Long-running Southern rock heroes Drive-By Truckers announced their upcoming album American Band a little less than week ago. It will follow up 2014’s English Oceans this fall. The band, and frontman Patterson Hood in particular, have always been outspoken about Southern ideals, stereotypes, and their region’s relation to the rest of the country, and the music on this album so far has been a loudspeaker for them to advocate for what is important to them in no uncertain terms. The first single, “Surrender Under Protest” is about the fight to remove the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina Statehouse.
“What It Means” follows the same political path but broadens the view to issues the whole country is facing, particularly police killings and the Black Lives Matter movement. Over twangy guitar chords, airy accordion, and organ, Hood gets straight to the point with no bullshit. He sings “If you say it wasn’t racial when you shot him in his tracks/ Well I guess that means that you ain’t black, it means that you ain’t black.” Among other things, he also points out how the officers continually get off for their crimes and just how much palpable tension and unrest that has caused, especially recently. Hood isn’t really saying anything new, but in his thick Alabama accent and through his proud Southern lens it’s great to hear. Here’s what Hood had to say about the song:
“What It Means” is a song I wrote a couple of years ago protesting the Ferguson decision and the Trayvon Martin killing. Unfortunately, the song is still timely today. I hope and pray that one day it won’t be.
American Band is out 9/30 via ATO Records.