American Band

American Band

Release Date: September 30, 2016 - ATO Records



Ramon Casiano
Darkened Flags on the Cusp of Dawn
Surrender Under Protest
Guns of Umpqua
Filthy and Fried
Sun Don’t Shine
Kinky Hypocrite (45 included)
Ever South
What It Means
Once They Banned Imagine


Ramon Casiano

It all started with the border
And that’s still where it is today
Someone killed Ramon Casiano
And the killer got away
Down by the sister city’s river
Two boys with way more pride than sense
One would fall and one would prosper
Never forced to make amends

He became a border agent
And supplemented what he made
In creative deportation
And missing ammo by the case
Since bullet ran the operation
There’s hardly been a menace since
That ain’t amassing at the border
From Chinese troops to terrorists

He had the makings of a leader
Of a certain kind of men
Who need to feel the world’s against them
Out to get them if it can
Men whose triggers pull their fingers
men who would rather fight than win
United in a revolution
Like in mind and like in skin

It all started with the border
And that’s still where it is today
Down by the sister city’s river
What for sure no one can say
Killing’s been the bullets business
Since back in 1931
Someone killed Ramon Casiano
And Ramon still ain’t dead enough

Mike Cooley / DBT - © Cheap Labor (BMI)


The darkest nights we look upon
They smolder on the lawn
What we smite and bathe in light
and where we crawl out from
Draw the blood, accept the stain
Everyone looks upon
Darkened flags on the cusp of dawn

We should light out for the trees or the great beyond
Light out for the love of thee, we build our lives upon
Cast aside the hurtful things that bear the fruit of scorn
Darkened flags on the cusp of dawn

So you’ve moved out from the city to horizons stretched out far
Beyond the pains and the reach of planes, chasing distant stars
The baggage that you take defines the things that you become
Darkened flags on the cusp of dawn

Patterson Hood / DBT - © Mt. St. Helen Keller Music (BMI)
July 2, 2015, living room, Portland OR.


From the comfort zone of history on the lips of trusted loved ones
To the wounded fragile minds of angry youth
No sooner was it over than the memory made it nobler
A selective means by which to point the view

If it’s all you can remember then its been that way forever
And for six long generations its been told
that among the fallen was tradition
that tradition was the mission
that the wrongness of the sin was not the goal

Does the color really matter
On the face you blame for failure
On the shaming for a battles losing cause
If the victims and aggressors
Just remain each other’s others
And the instigators never fight their own

Compelled but not defeated
Surrender under protest if you must
Compelled but not defeated

Mike Cooley / DBT - © Cheap Labor (BMI)


I see birds soaring through the clouds outside my window
Smell the fresh paint of a comfort shade on this new fall day
Feel the coffee surge through morning veins from half an hour ago
Hear the sound of shots and screams from the hallway

Spent my last weekend camping out again down the road aways
Just me and Joan and a couple of friends on this beautiful trail
Watched the sun slip down behind a mountain stream in these great Cascades
Saw a mighty hawk swoop down upon a stream to devour its prey

Now We’re moving chairs in some panic mode to barricade the doors
As my heart rate surges on adrenaline and nerves I feel I’ve been here before
Made it back from hell’s attack in some distant bloody war
Only to stare down hell back home

Outside my mind I wander freely past the rocky shore
Waves crash against the banks where Lewis and Clark explored
We’re all standing in the shadows of our noblest intentions of something more
than being shot in a classroom in Oregon

It’s a morning like so many others with breakfast and birthdays
The sun burned the fog away, breeze blew the mist away,
my friend Jack just had him a baby
I see birds soaring through the clouds outside my window today
Heaven’s calling my name from the hallway outside the door
Heaven’s calling my name from the hallway outside the door

Patterson Hood / DBT - © Mt. St. Helen Keller Music (BMI)
(front porch, Portland, Oct. 5 / Delta Flight DL 773 PDX to ATL and back of bus,
Athens GA. Oct. 7, 2015)


Bottles falling in a dumpster send a stale smell rising
through a sickening summer haze
to the rhythm of a boot-heeled hipster cowgirl’s
clunky sashay of shame
Mundane mayhem the last of the AM’S gasoline powered release
of the rest of the day to the afternoon’s rising relentlessly stifling heat

Up round the corner a B model Mazda’s sitting crooked between the lines
feeling lucky that 27’s the hardest thing she’ll have to survive
Just don’t mix your Browns and your whites with your wine
and don’t sit on your cigarettes
You’ll feel like shit soon enough and deserve’s got no say in a story’s past

It’s what alive feels like
Bored children caught between dog days when night turns them loose
All that’s different for girls is the bragging and who it’s done to
Everyone claims that the times are a changing as theirs pass them by
and everyones’s right

Way down beneath all the talk and tequila and reasons excuses and doubts
breathing steam from his cup and stink from his fingers
he’s starting to figure it out
The old man’s world was more doing than thinking
and the doing was more cut and dried
Now girls collect trophies as much as the boys and come home just as filthy and fried
Now girls collect trophies as much as the boys and come home just as filthy and fried

Mike Cooley / DBT - © Cheap Labor (BMI)


When the sun don’t shine
I’ll be better when the sun don’t shine
I like it better when the sun don’t shine

When it’s cold outside
I grab a sweater when it’s cold outside
Get close together when it’s cold outside
I get so happy when it’s cold outside

I like it better when the sun don’t shine
I’d much rather watch the clouds go by
Or watch the moon peak into my room
A little rain to make the roses bloom

I like it better when the sun don’t shine
And I don’t have to watch you say goodbye
I can stand behind the clouds and hide
A little rain to protect my pride
I like it better when the sun don’t shine

I’m gonna love you till the big one comes and shakes my bones
and washes us out to sea
Have a blast till the markets crash and smoke and ash
is left of these beautiful trees
The next morning it will be so lonely they’ll have to send somebody around
to pick up the pieces of me
Pick up the pieces of me

I’ll be better when the sun don’t shine
I like it better when the sun don’t shine
Clouds are forming in this state of mind
Always storming in this state of mine
When the sun don’t shine

Patterson Hood / DBT - © Mt. St. Helen Keller Music (BMI)
July 14 and 15, 2015, Portland OR. (Parlor).


Hot blooded bible thumping cash on the barrel honey
private jets and drunk CEOs
from Pentecostal denim to highfalutin linens
empty pockets line the deepest egos
Its a tricky navigation from the wanting to the having,
all the needs of a kinky hypocrite
The greatest separators of fools from their money
party harder than they like to admit

Ain’t it always you know who’s boots
scooting up a goose stepping rhythm to a simpler time
quickest on the stick when the call of nature hits
shuffle shoeing to a pissy Florsheim
Every slope is slippery with a little something lacy
tween your business and your poly wool blend
The greatest separators of fools from their money
party harder than they like to admit

Book tours, miracle cures, affirmation and the end times immanence
Low hanging headline grabbing ring masters and imaginary elephants
all at once or making payments on a daily syndicated hissy fit
The greatest separators of fools from their money
party harder than they like to admit

Mike Cooley / DBT - © Cheap Labor (BMI)


We packed our few belongings and we moved across the ocean
To start a new life in this land so bold and vast
Dispersed from Ellis Island, my distant Irish kin
Eyes cut to the future, heart’s tied to the past

We held tight to our loved ones and we held on to the promise
and we scraped our meager living hand to mouth
We prayed to what would have us, every doubting John Thomas
spreading through the Appalachia ever south
Spread through Appalachia ever south

And I hear we weren’t welcomed here, at least not in those days
No one needs our drunken, fighting, thieving kind
But we settled in this new place and we worked it in our ways
and spread our kin upon it in due time
Spread our kin upon it in due time

And we fought our losing battles and we held onto our ways
and we talk of how we left behind our better days
Some were living lives of leisure, some surviving hand to mouth
Bash our heads against the future, ever south
Bash our heads against the future ever south

When I set my sights upon you, we were both still in our prime
We were moving in big circles that I sought out to combine
And I held you in my arms and swore eternal love this time
Tried to lasso brighter futures and let it drag us both behind
Lasso brighter futures, let it drag us both behind

So we aimed our sights westward like so many did before
Expanding our horizons to some distant shore
Where everyone takes notice of the drawl that leaves our mouth
So that no matter where we are we’re ever south
No matter where we are we’re ever south

Now my Christian Southern brethren will tell you all what for
to keep your heathen ways up in you and your shoes outside the door
take your stand for noble causes till you just can’t stand no more
and surrender to some savior, Praise the Lord,
Surrender to some savior, Praise the Lord

But despite our best intentions, it pains me to report
we keep swinging for the fences, coming up a little short
We sure can get it wrong for someone so devout
I hear you whistling past the graveyard looking down
Whistling past the graveyard looking down

Ever Southern in my carriage, ever southern in my stance
in the Irish of my complexion and the Scottish in my dance
in the way I bang my head against my daily circumstance

Let this blue eyed southern devil take you out upon the prowl
with decadence and charm we’ll take it into town
tell you stories of our fathers and the glories of our house
Always told a little slower, ever south

Patterson Hood / DBT - © Mt. St. Helen Keller Music (BMI)
December 1, 2015 (Parlor, Portland OR.)


He was running down the street when they shot him in his tracks
About the only thing agreed upon is he ain’t coming back
There won’t be any trial so the air it won’t be cleared
There’s just two sides calling names out of anger and of fear
If you say it wasn’t racial when they shot him in his tracks
well I guess that means that you ain’t black, it means that you ain’t black
I mean Barack Obama won and you can choose where to eat
but you don’t see too many white kids lying bleeding on the street

In some town in Missouri but it could be anywhere
it could be right here on Ruth Street, in fact it’s happened here
and it happened where you’re sitting, wherever that might be
It happened last weekend and it will happen again next week
And when they turned him over, they were surprised there was no gun
I mean, he must have done something, or else why would he have run
And they’ll spin it for the anchors on the television screen
so we can shrug and let it happen without asking what it means
What it means?

Then I guess there was protesting and some looting in some stores
and someone was reminded that they ain’t called colored folks no more
I mean we try to be politically correct when we call names
but what’s the point of post-racial when the old prejudice remains?
And that guy who killed that kid down in Florida standing ground
is free to beat up on his girlfriend and wave his brand new gun around
while some kid is dead and buried and laying in the ground
with a pocket full of Skittles
What it means?

Astrophysics at our fingertips and we’re standing at the summit
Some man with a joystick lands a rocket on a comet
We’re living in an age where limitations are forgotten
The outer edges move and dazzle us but the core is something rotten
Cause we’re standing at the precipice of prejudice and fear
We trust science just as long as it tells us what we want to hear
We want our truths all fair and balanced as long as our notions lie within it
There’s no sunlight in our asses and our heads are stuck up in it
And our heroes may be rapists who watch us while we dream
but don’t look to me for answers cuz I don’t know what it means
What it means?

Patterson Hood / DBT - © Mt. St. Helen Keller Music (BMI)
November 2014 (kitchen table)


We had our heart strings dangling ripe for the yanking
and lot of reasons grabby was good
Poor huddled masses singing boots up their asses
giving grabby what he needed to pull
all the way back to where ghosts from the past were still
fighting their wars from the grave
Complete with record burning and threatening and spurning
the crime of getting blood on the page
Since the big one ended we’d been mostly pretending
we’d have had the same gumption and grit
as the greatest among us when harm came upon us
we wouldn’t hesitate to defend
But with or against something’s been out to get us
and it looked like something finally did
No nobler cause in our lifetime for setting our sails to the wind

But once they banned Imagine it became the same old war its always been
Once they banned Imagine it became the war it was when we were kids

Are you now or have you ever been in cahoots with the notion that people can change
When history happens again if you do or you did you’ll be blamed
From baseless inquiry
to no knocking entry
becoming the law of the land
to half cocked excuses for bullet abuse regarding anything browner than tan

cause once they banned Imagine it became the same old war its always been
Once they banned Imagine it became the war it was when we were kids

Mike Cooley / DBT - © Cheap Labor (BMI)


I was listening to the radio when they said that you were gone
Already feeling more than just a little down
Mood swings run rampant on both sides of my family
Like an albatross I carry around
I never ever met you but it shook me all the same
life was better for the happiness you brought
For the joyride that you took us on and rocky roads we landed on
whiplashed by the demons that you fought

Fighting with the baggage that is pulling down on me
like an undertow pulls into the sea
It lights our daily struggle till it’s hard to separate
you from all the darkness in me

Some asswipe on TV said that you should be ashamed
for your cowardice in facing down your flaws
I’m not sure what makes me sadder, all that talent up in flames
or the lack of understanding that it wrought

Tossing off the baggage that is pulling down on me
Toss it in the river and be free
Move so close together, only inches separate
you from all the darkness in me

I’m not seeking explanations for this thing that you did
a thin line separates the laughter from despair
I’ve had my own depression since I was just a kid
but been blessed with the means to repair
There’s this baggage that we carry and some sweetness locked within
just be careful where you implement the straps
All this weight can be salvation when the air is much too thin
but it can pull you down too far to climb back out

Tossing off the baggage that is pulling down on me
Toss it in the river and be free
Move so close together, only inches separate
you from all the darkness in me
Tossing off the baggage, too much weight too much drag-gage
All this freight can put you six feet in the ground
Nothing left to do but try to keep it all together
Better off without the baggage that I carry around, carry around, carry around

Patterson Hood / DBT - © Mt. St. Helen Keller Music (BMI)
August 13, 2014 (Athens GA. - Manhattan Bar and my kitchen.)



As America sinks into the 21st century, we are a very divided people. For all the talk about a red-state / blue-state divide, I think it often comes down more to an urban / rural division. ‘Gun culture’ means something very different in the big city and country folk often feel like their needs, wants and ideals are being compromised and infringed upon by some force that they neither know nor understand. The reddest states tend to have one or two metropolitan areas that are pushing progressive change. I (now) live in one of the most liberal cities in America but I can get into my car and drive twenty minutes in any direction and culturally be back in Alabama. Perhaps we could call this the new (?) duality of America. Maybe it’s not so new but with modern communication being what it is, it appears that we, as a people seem to be having a tougher time than ever dealing with the differences and needs of the other side of the cultural landscape.

As a band, we have kind of straddled that line in what we do. Although our lyrics and politics have always tilted a ways left of center, our music has been rooted in deep traditions and a well of historic and literary influences. This record tends to lay these threads more bare than anything we’ve ever done.

Drive-By Truckers are completing our twentieth year on a high note. American Band is our eleventh studio album. Our records have often attempted to tell some kind of story, sometimes current things veiled in some tale set in some other time period. This album is pretty much centered around contemporary issues. Tales of our time. Even a murder story from 75 years ago has an unfortunate current cultural relevance. Even in times of vast upheaval, things just don’t change enough.

Ramon Casiano was murdered outside of El Paso, Texas in 1931. There are many parallels between that case and the “stand your ground” shooting of Trayvon Martin decades later. The man who killed him went on to head up the NRA and was the one responsible for turning it into the political organization that it has become. It’s a nearly forgotten chapter in our country’s painful history of racial violence.

Last summer, I was asked to write an Op-Ed for The New York Times Sunday Magazine about the continuing controversies surrounding the flying of the so-called Rebel flag at some public buildings in the South. It was only a couple of weeks after the massacre of some African-American churchgoers in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. I pondered that perhaps there were plenty of other things that we as Southerners could be proud of besides a flag that so many view as divisive and hurtful. I wrote the song Darkened Flags on the Cusp of Dawn on the same night as my first draft of the op-ed.

Cooley and I have played together for more than thirty years. He has written some of my favorite songs in the world. His songs have always had political ramifications, often somewhere under the surface. This time his beliefs are front and center and direct. I think we all have spent a fair share of our lives listening to The Clash. Maybe it’s starting to show. That’s a beautiful thing as far as I’m concerned. The Clash meets Marty Robbins perhaps.

I moved to Portland, Oregon last summer. It’s a beautiful city and people there have been very kind and welcoming. It’s weird moving cross-country and being so far from so many friends, family members and loved ones, but it’s also incredible having such an adventure with my family at this point in our lives. We arrived during a heat wave, substantially hotter than the temperature back home in Athens, Georgia. Two weeks after our arrival, the New Yorker printed a story about the impending earthquake that is supposed to destroy my new home region. I wrote Sun Don’t Shine around that time as a love song to my new hometown.

A few months later, I wrote Ever South as a love song to my home region and the people and places that I come from. I couldn’t escape who I am and where I’m from if I wanted to, and I’d never want to. Sometimes a little distance is just what is needed to put all of that love in perspective.

On my family’s three-week cross-country drive to Portland, we spent the last evening of our journey in a sleepy college town called Roseburg, Oregon. A couple of months later, on a stunningly beautiful autumn morning, someone in that town opened fire on the campus of Umpqua Community College killing ten and injuring seven others. I was at home with my family when the news broke and I walked around all day in a daze of questioning and sadness. I wrote Guns of Umpqua on a flight back to Atlanta a few days later. It’s fictionalization but there’s far too much truth within it.

I wrote What It Means a while back. Stories like the ones it references were starting to be a daily occurrence around that time. Not that the events were all that new. It’s been happening for way too long, but now we’re starting to really talk about it. Hopefully that will be a first step to finding some answers. As a father of two children, I see a new generation of kids who seem much kinder and wise than we were as kids and it gives me a feeling of hope and optimism about the future. Evolution indeed.

On a similar note, one evening on a recent tour, some friends in Providence, Rhode Island gave us a “Black Lives Matter” sign that we have been proudly displaying on our stage. There have been some folks who have questioned our intentions. Let’s just say that, for now, there are conversations that my friends with black children have to have that the rest of us can take for granted and leave unsaid. I’ve traveled all over this beautiful country and seen first hand that no matter how far we’ve come; we still have a long ways to go.

Like so many others, I sometimes wake up in a cloud of depression and turmoil. I’m one of the fortunate ones. I have artistic outlets for my angst. I have a loving family and friends who keep me in check and help me keep the demons at bay. Our band has raised money for years for an organization in Athens, Georgia that helps musicians get assistance, Nuci's Space. I wrote Baggage in the days immediately after the suicide of Robin Williams, at a time when so many of us were asking how a man who brought so much light and happiness to so many people couldn’t find his way out of the darkness. I pray that if you ever find yourself in such a situation that you can get the help you need.

Finally, I have no definitive answers for any of these questions. All I know is the time has passed for burying our heads in the sand and not asking. So many of the problems of our time can boil down to a failure to communicate. To talk to each other. To ask the tough questions of ourselves. To open up our hearts and minds and seek a higher calling. To summon better angels, as they say. Or as the prophet Patti Smith said, to “Love each other, Motherfuckers.”

Play it Loud!
See you at The Rock Show.
Patterson Hood (Drive-By Truckers)



Mike Cooley, Patterson Hood, Brad Morgan, Jay Gonzalez and Matt Patton

Produced & Mixed by David Barbe
Engineered by Matt Ross-Spang and David Barbe
Mastered by Greg Calbi
Equipment Technician - DeWitt Burton
Assistant Engineers at Sound Emporium - Mike Stankiewicz and Zaq Reynolds
Assistant Engineer at Chase Park Transduction - Henry Barbe
UGA MBUS Assistant Engineers at the 40 Watt Club - Alyssa Schell, Rachel Joseph, and Anna Reed
Recorded at Sound Emporium, Nashville TN; Chase Park Transduction and the 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA

Photography by Danny Clinch -
Art Direction by Lilla Hood -
Artwork by Wes Freed -


Ansley, Ross, Lucas and Delilah Cooley; Rebecca, Ava and Emmett Hood; Ruby Morgan; Sibby and Louise Morgan; Katey and Billy Gonzalez; Megan and Hazel Sue Patton; and Kelly and Alfonso DeFilippis.

Jenn Bryant; Wes Freed and Jackie Folkes; Jason Wilson; Amy, Winston and Henry Barbe; Annabelle and Adam Byer; Chris, Lilla, Reed and Duncan Smith.

Thanks to our beloved Road Crew: Matt DeFilippis, Cole Taylor, Paul McHugh, Wyatt Pless, Henry Barbe, Asa Leffer, Darrel Plampin, DeWitt Burton, Jim Wilson, Dick Cooper (retired, but never forgotten) and our Spirits in the Night: Craig Lieske, Newt Carter, Marty Gelhaar and Philip Carpenter.

The Greatest Management / Agency / Label / Legal & Biz Team on Earth: Kevin Morris, Christine Stauder and everyone at Red Light Management; Matt Hickey, Frank Riley and everyone at High Road Touring; Jon Salter, Mike Quinn, Kelly Kettering, Robin Hendrickson and everyone at ATO Records and PIAS Cooperative; Ken Weinstein and everyone at Big Hassle; J. Reid Hunter and everyone at Serling Rooks Hunter McKoy & Worob, LLP; Dwight Wiles, Zach Opheim and everyone at Smith, Wiles and Co, P.C.

Alabama Shakes; Wendy, Sadie Jane and Stella Rose Morris; Graham Hickey; Drew Vandenberg; Matt Ross-Spang; The Dexateens; Robert and Cynthia Patton; Bill Kingery; George Davidson; Milton Chapman; Marc Tissenbaum; Chris Grehan; Steve Hunter at Thee Electric Church Tube Amp Repair; Jeff Soileau; the fine folks at Widespread Panic, Athens GA; the fine folks at REM, Athens GA; Bertis Downs and family; Traci Thomas; Danny Clinch; Dan Prakopcyk; Liz Leavitt; Chris Funk; Seann McKeel; Phebe Rue McKeel; Chelsea Cain; Marc Mohan; Peter Buck; Jim Desmond and family; Chloe Johnson; Bennett Moon; David and Judy Hood; Jim and Linda Wright; Jan Patterson and Jim Martin; Jay Leavitt and Deep Groove Records; Barrie Buck, Velena and all the fiane folks at The Fabulous 40 Watt Club; The wonderful staff at Sound Emporium and Chase Park Transduction; Linda Phillips and Bob Sleppy and all at Nuci’s Space; Jason and Beth Thrasher; Ken Zankel and Anna Veyna; Andy LeMaster; Uncle Josh; Three Dimes Down; Charlie Mustard and Jittery Joes; Willy Vlautin; Billy Reid and his wonderful staff and of course our beloved families and friends.

David Barbe is grateful for the collective excellence of the entire DBT Family, and the patience of Amy Barbe.

Scott Baxendale has been building some incredible guitars for us for a few years. They are amazing handcrafted instruments made with love and care (and only the finest of woods). Scott works out of The Baxendale Guitar in Athens, GA, and can be reached at

Brad plays Ludwig Drums and Meinl Cymbals, special thanks to Chris Brewer at Meinl Cymbals for all his help.

Jay uses Nord Keyboards (as well as a vintage 1958 Hammond B-3 with Leslie).

DBT Proudly Uses: Rapco Cables, Seymore Duncan Pickups, D’Addario Strings, Fender Amps, Sommatone Amps, Shure Microphones, Steve Amps (Steve Hunter, Athens GA.) and Jittery Joes Coffee.

DBT Proudly Supports Nuçi’s Space Artist Resource Center. Please read all about this great organization at