Recently, several music industry institutions have decided to change their names due to the renewed dialogue about racism in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Nashville country trio Lady Antebellum became Lady A, record label One Little Indian became One Little Independent, and former Young Turks imprint Whities became AD 93. And now Patterson Hood, frontman of the long-running Southern rock band Drive-By Truckers, has penned a lengthy essay on NPR grappling with his own privilege and apologizing for his band name: “What kind of asshole would name his band Drive-By Truckers?”
“The band name was intended as a tribute to two forms of music that I loved and revered,” Hood explains. “Hip-hop in the mid-’90s was filled with crime sagas, not necessarily far removed from the content of old Johnny Cash songs — which, of course, I also loved — and a direct descendant of the narcocorrido. I would not (and regardless, could not) rap, but I could approach my subject matter in a lyrical way, set to this old music that was a new passion of mine. From the start, the band was fun and rowdy and loud as hell. Our name had an irreverence that befit our style and sense of humor. It was such an absurd band name that I didn’t have to worry about a blues performer in Seattle having the same. I had the privilege of being blissfully unaware.”
“It has always been my intent to be a good person, and to try to be a better person,” Hood writes. “It’s always a work in progress. Many of our band’s songs have attempted to examine our country’s fatal flaw of racism, from its origins in slavery and religion to our current systematic failure to advance beyond this quagmire of hate and mis-opportunity. It’s an ongoing conversation that can be at times painful, but necessary. Our name was a drunken joke that was never intended to be in rotation and reckoned with two-and-a-half decades later, and I sincerely apologize for its stupidity and any negative stereotypes it has propagated. I’m not sure changing it now serves any higher purpose, but I’m certainly open to suggestions. In the meantime, you’re welcome to just call us Lady DBT.”
Read the full op-ed here.