BY HANK REICHMAN
A little less than a year ago, in the wake of the 2016 election, I posted to this blog “A Playlist for the Trump Presidency,” a collection of 30 songs/videos of political relevance. It generated considerable traffic. In February I followed up with “Another Trump Playlist,” with 40 songs/videos, but that post attracted considerably fewer views, unjustifiably in my humble opinion. (Maybe it was the graphic imagery in the Pussy Riot video.) One song on that second list was “What It Means,” by the Drive-By Truckers, which I described as “southern white boys embrace Black Lives Matter.” The song was a centerpiece of the band’s highly political album, American Band. Now the group has released a new song, “The Perilous Night,” which is band leader Patterson Hood’s most intensely political statement yet. Here it is:
In an informative online interview, here’s how Hood, raised in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, but now living in Portland, Oregon (after years in Athens, Georgia) talked about the song’s genesis:
the current situation in our country is just, you know, it sucks. And it’s hard to write anything with much finesse about what’s going on because it’s such a clusterfuck. It’s like writing about a bowel movement. It’s hard to write anything eloquent about diarrhea, and that’s kind of what the political situation in our country is right now. It’s just like a big exploding shit. Everything I would write, I would hate it. And I would tear it up and cast it aside. I guess I wrote a first draft of that song last December on the day of the Electoral College vote. Because it was already becoming evident to anyone if you actually looked at it with an open mind that there was some fucked-up shit already surfacing. And it hadn’t even gotten as far as the Russian thing and all that. And it just kept getting worse, and I kept going back to it trying to tackle it again and getting mad and tossing it aside. And then this summer when the Charlottesville thing happened, the song got finished. It all kinda came out there ’cause that was just unconscionable.
The band plans to release the song backed by a live version of the aforementioned “What It Means,” recorded at the Newport Folk Festival this summer. Here’s that version: