Gritty Southern Rock: The Best Of The Drive-By Truckers

The first person who introduced me to the band the Drive-By Truckers called them “the band Lynyrd Skynyrd wished they were.” While bands like Skynyrd and bro-country artists have staked their own claim in defining the musical history of the South, the DBTs take it to another level. Formed by two members who hail from the Muscle Shoals region of North Alabama, their sound is gritty, deep and often profane, and unafraid to call the region out on its problems, hypocrisy and sketchy history. They’ve been a band for nearly two decades and have released 15 studio, live and collection albums. If you like Southern rock, you should make time to listen to their entire discography—but here’s a 31-song overview to get you started.

*Most accessible/a good place to start.

“The Living Bubba,” Gangstabilly (There’s also a good live version of this on their live album Alabama Ass Whuppin’)

“Late for Church,” Gangstabilly (Vocals by Adam Howell, who was with the band only briefly. Also, a ukulele!)

“Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus),” Pizza Deliverance (Come on, the name.)

“Love Like This,” Pizza Deliverance (Lyrically excellent.)

“72 (This Highway’s Mean),” Southern Rock Opera (This road runs right through my hometown!)

“The Three Great Alabama Icons,” Southern Rock Opera (One of their more well-known songs. Kind of spoken word-esque.)

“Women Without Whiskey,” Southern Rock Opera (A good precursor to their future work!)

“My Sweet Annette,” Decoration Day* (Oh, a good love triangle song.)

“Outfit,” Decoration Day (Featuring Jason Isbell, who’s made it big now in his own right. Beautiful narrative in the song.)

“Sounds Better in the Song,” Decoration Day* (Vocalist Mike Cooley found himself in this song. Also, good slide work near the end.)

“(Something’s Gotta Give) Pretty Soon,” Decoration Day* (Poignant and a bit quieter than most of their other ballads.)

“Decoration Day,” Decoration Day (The album’s title track and one of its most popular, due to its military tie-ins.)

“Carl Perkins’ Cadillac,” The Dirty South (People forget about Carl Perkins, man, and that’s not fair.)

“Danko/Manuel,” The Dirty South (A beautiful song about Richard Manuel and Rick Danko of The Band.)

“Cottonseed,” The Dirty South (Acoustic-led quintessential DBTs.)

“Never Gonna Change,” The Dirty South (A beautiful narrative about growing up in the rough parts of North Alabama.)

“Lookout Mountain,” The Dirty South (This song is one of their grittier, both content-wise and musically.)

“Goddamn Lonely Love,” The Dirty South* (A beautiful song about love and loss.)

“Easy on Yourself,” A Blessing And a Curse (One of the more mainstream-sounding songs they recorded.)

“Goodbye,” A Blessing and a Curse* (Such an appropriate song for the twenty-something; it’s about losing close friends.)

“Daylight,” A Blessing and a Curse (Listen to this and tell me you don’t weirdly think of Sugar Ray.)

See Also
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“Space City,” A Blessing and a Curse (I’m partial because this song is about my hometown.)

“The Purgatory Line,” Brighter Than Creation’s Dark* (One of the few songs led by their female vocalist, Shonna Tucker.)

“The Monument Valley,” Brighter Than Creation’s Dark (This song indrectly mentions the director John Ford. Can’t beat that.)

“You Got Another,” The Big To-Do (Another ballad led by Tucker. It’s about the sadness of knowing your partner has somebody else on the side.)

“After the Scene Dies,” The Big To-Do (A great song about times changing, or what happens when they turn your favorite bar into an Old Navy.)

“Used To Be a Cop,” Go-Go Boots (Another great story-telling song in their typical fashion.)

“Pauline Hawkins,” English Oceans (The single to their most recent album.)

“Hanging On,” English Oceans (About growing up and moving on.)

“Made Up English Oceans,” English Oceans (The title track to their most recent album.)

“First Air of Autumn,” English Oceans (A pretty little song about Southern culture.)

“Rebels,” The Fine Print (Yep. You guessed it. A cover of the Tom Petty song!)

“TVA,” The Fine Print (Again, about the company that supplies my hometown power, so I’m biased.)

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