Hell Hath No Grits

Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death

Bury my body in the ole sinkhole: I'm damned, like all ugly Americans, not only for avoiding soul stirring on Sunday but for the hatred we spread around the world like a killer virus. Your daddy hates me, and we all loathe difference too. Yet once upon a time in the place once called America, these ears bridged the Great Divide between the comfortable African-centered space provided by the Godfather of Soul, Dr. Funkenstein, and Patti Patti to bravely embrace the alien turf of these Athens residents' Dixie funk. Marry me to twice-told truths about man's inhumanity to man and the incompatibility of man and woman. For a brief shining while, the Rock Show brought us not only awareness but deliverance as well. Thank you, Buford, for the last rays of rising sun (son).

Darker, more personal than political, Decoration Day rocks easier and rolls harder than Southern Rock Opera, but nevertheless proves beyond a doubt that the DBT engine's got enough horsepower to keep on. Well, notwithstanding the fervent prayers of Cooley, O singer of harrowing soliloquies about love and loss, when the pin hit the shell I found myself in Hell. But tricksters as brave as the Truckers earn their wings to the Other Place on high, along with Melvin Van Peebles: "This here's the home of the sheriff/Not the land of the free/In America, folks don't run in the street/Blood streaming from where they been beat." Back on Earth, as Cooley would say, that terrible implosion of Americana "sounds better in the song."

Oh will this damnable tedium of baptism by fire never end? Let this branded wrinkle in my forehead indicate there's a natch'l born Negress fit about to be thrown. Hell hath no grits, NASCAR, nor sound and fury. As World War III's ill wind now done gone with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the joke is on me. But I've still got my accent, chillun.

Virtuosos of dixie-funk impossibility, and it ain't purty
photo: Traci Goudie
Virtuosos of dixie-funk impossibility, and it ain't purty

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Drive-By Truckers
Decoration Day
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Heaven, though, is said to be a hell of a place, with PBR and pickled eggs on a silver platter, and a never-ending Player's Ball in progress. If there was a jukebox, it'd loop Gangstabilly, Pizza Deliverance, Alabama Ass-Whuppin', Southern Rock Opera, and now Decoration Daytoo. And ahhh, "Careless" on the new one evokes a faint, half-remembered time like a fading daguerreotype of good clean fun—me running Patterson and Cooley's ass-whup gauntlet (bloodshed or chocolate 'tang, anyone?), a red tee shirt reading "Home Sweet Alabama," cranked amps and a bottle of Jack. We're ready for our close-up, Mr. McKinnon.


Drive-By Truckers play Maxwell's June 18 and the Bowery Ballroom June 19.

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