The Big To-Do

The Big To-Do

Release Date: March 16, 2010 - ATO Records

We started it off by recording twenty-five new songs in twenty-five days.

No big dramas or big whoops going on so everyone was able to put full attention to building the beast. No concept or intentional story line here, yet as we sit down to sequence, it somehow seems to imply otherwise.

We were touring in Norway and one night at dinner the TV was on and the top story on the news was about a woman in Selmer, TN, about 35 miles from my hometown, who had shot and killed her husband, a prominent preacher in town. Selmer was the same town we visited a few years earlier on our album The Dirty South, as it was the home of Sherriff Buford Pusser and all of the exploits he was involved in, many deeply involving some folks from my hometown that inspired a few of the songs on that album. I got a really nasty letter from his daughter. I felt bad about that.

Here I was, halfway around the world from my home and the top story is only 35 miles away from there. As a touring band, we have frequently found ourselves in the exact place and time as the national front-page story of the moment. We've laughed, uncomfortably about it for years, but it keeps on happening and sometimes it gets a little creepy. When our bus was almost hit by a meteor a couple of years ago, we felt it was getting a little ridiculous, but at the same time if our number had been up, we'd be gone and what a way to go that would have been. My wife hates it when I talk about that.

Then, I'm halfway around the world and the top story is back home. Some songs beg to be written.

A year later, I was staying in a fleabag motel in Hernando, MS, getting ready to go visit my friends The Dickinsons there. The TV was on and damned if it wasn't Court TV covering the very trial for the woman from Selmer (just an hour or so away from where I was staying). I was watching when the defense attorney pulled out the wig and high-heeled go-go boots and I could hear the audible gasp from the courtroom. It isn't my job to judge the morality of that tale or decide who was right or wrong. That was the job of the judge and jury. They went quite easy on her by most standards. I had predicted such upon hearing the audible gasp. I decided right then and there that I was going to write a song about it called "The Audible Gasp". I wrote "The Wig He Made Her Wear" instead, a couple of days before it was recorded.

The story we tell in "The Flying Wallendas" is a true one. The part about my Grandparents house is true also. I don't know what made me write that one. A few days after writing it, we were in the studio to work on this album and we recorded it in one take. A few days later, a friend gave me a copy of a book on The Ringling Brothers.

I never really was all that into the circus as a kid, but I sure was into the Rock Show, which was sort of The Circus for kids of my generation. I went and wanted to join. I've been living on the road for much of the last two decades. I get tired and burned out, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. The Big To-Do.

I don't write a lot of songs on the road, but I did more than usual on this album and many more were inspired by or set there, either in a literal sense or by something I witnessed or heard about while out there. I wrote two songs one afternoon in Santa Fe.

We went to Europe for our tenth tour over there last summer. While on that tour we got exhausted, homesick, and froze our ass off. I grew up in Alabama and just couldn't comprehend how fucking cold England can be in August. While we were there, our friend Jerry Wexler passed away. He lived a very long and often wonderful life. He was sort of an honorary Godfather to me. Certainly not in a religious sense, but he was a life-long friend to my family, was very good to me as a boy, and became a huge supporter of my band in later years. I walked through a festival in Wales, thinking about him with tears running down my cheeks. It was too cold to pretend it was sweat, but we played an extra great set that afternoon in his honor.

The next two days were spent in freezing rain at a music fest. We were parked on the mud trail winding between stages and spent the afternoons watching soaked Brits walk through the puddles back and forth with a running commentary from our beloved Cooley. I chained several of his comments together and wrote "Girls Who Smoke" on the spot. I played it for Cooley that afternoon and he actually liked it.

The highs and lows associated with the road and the lives we lead bring a bipolar whiplash of emotions and our songs often reflect that. I came home from Europe and flew to San Francisco two days later. I wrote "Daddy Learned To Fly" on the plane out there. It was inspired by an unspeakable loss that I still can't quite comprehend or get over. A couple of days later, we were playing at The Democratic Convention in Denver and got the call to make an album with Booker T. Jones. We accepted and two weeks later had finished it. Potato Hole. A week later AIG went bankrupt and our national economy collapsed. I had just written "This Fucking Job". People are losing jobs and it scares the shit out of me. Folks come to see us to forget their troubles. Our songs are dark but our shows are a lot of fun. We try really hard to make it worth their hard earned money. The Big To-Do.

We've often set our songs and albums in different periods of time, but this one finds us directly in our present. Riding all through the highways of America (and Europe) trying to make sense of a very different world than the one we grew up in. Sometimes I feel disconnected but that's not always such a bad thing. I'm not nearly old enough to bury my head in the dirt and dwell on the good ole days, as I am quite positive and cautiously optimistic. There's a world of bad shit going down but I've also seen some great strides and some amazing improvements happen during my lifetime. I love my damned iPod but I also love going to record stores that sell nothing but vinyl. I have lost some close friends lately but I see our amazing children and can't help but believe in a kind of hope I never got from a church or a politician. Our album begins with a little boy missing his dad and ends with a father missing his children. The other day my four year-old daughter asked me to play her a Clash record.

As we were finishing our album, we lost another friend. Jim Dickinson has been a hero of mine for over twenty years. As a musician, a writer, an artist, a producer and above all as a role model on how to be all those things and still be a fantastic father, Jim was a true treasure to everyone who knew him. His influence on me has been profound and I am proud to be friends with his amazing family. He wrote his own epitaph: "I'm just dead; I'm not gone." His life accomplishments will live on for generations to come.

I grew up worshipping Rock and Roll like a religion. I know its shortcomings and strengths but have loved it unconditionally all the same since I was eight-years old. I ran away and joined the circus and honestly, I'm still as obsessed as I was as a boy. I'm not a kid anymore but I still remember how it felt and it doesn't really feel all that different to me now. I pay the price, but I get to get up there with my best friends and tell dirty and violent stories about desperate people in troubled circumstances. I get to turn it up loud, and sometimes I even get to dance.

The Big To-Do.
Patterson Hood - January 2010

The Big To-Do is Lovingly Dedicated to
Jerry Wexler (Jan. 10, 1917 - Aug. 15, 2008) and
Jim Dickinson (Nov. 15, 1941 - Aug. 15, 2009)


1. Daddy Learned To Fly
2. The Fourth Night Of My Drinking
3. Birthday Boy
4. Drag The Lake Charlie
5. The Wig He Made Her Wear
6. You Got Another
7. This Fucking Job
8. Get Downtown
9. After The Scene Dies
10. (It's Gonna Be) I told You So
11. Santa Fe
12. The Flying Wallendas
13. Eyes Like Glue



The Tenth Drive-By Truckers Album.
Starring: Shonna Tucker, Jay Gonzalez, Patterson Hood, Brad Morgan, John Neff and Mike Cooley

Backup Vocal Stylings by The Bottom Feeders (USA)
Special Guest: David Barbe

Produced, Engineered and Mixed by David Barbe; Chase Park Transduction Studios, Athens, GA.
Recorded in 2009, 16 tracks of glorious 2" analog tape. Mixed analog to 1/2" 2 Track.

Mastered by Glenn Schick at GS Mastering, Atlanta, GA. Vinyl was Half Speed Mastered by Stan Ricker at SRM, Ridgecrest, CA.
Mastered from the original 1/2" master tape.

Assistant Engineer - Drew Vandenberg. Interns - Drew Carroll, William Brookshire, Thomas Johnson and Scott Lee

Art Direction - Lilla Hood -
Artwork and Paintings - Wes Freed at Willard's Garage, Richmond VA.
Willard's Garage maintained by Jyl Freed - or

Management - Kevin Morris and Christine Stauder at Red Light Management, NYC.
Agent - Frank Riley and Matt Hickey at High Road Touring, Sausalito, CA and Austin, TX.
Agent Europe - Neil Warnock and Danny Bowes at The Agency Group, London, UK.
Press and Publicity - Traci Thomas at Thirty Tigers, Nashville, TN.
Legal - J. Reid Hunter Esq. and David Gold Esq. for Serling, Rooks and Ferrara, LLP, NYC.
Web - Jenn Bryant at Knuckle Sammitch, Athens, GA. and Jason Wilson at Alabama Ass Whuppin', Santa Rosa, CA.
Business Management - Tom Scott CPA and Robert Bachman CPA at Trinity Accounting Group, Athens, GA.

Road Manager and Chief Mule Wrangler - Matt DeFilippis (The Mattador)
Live Sound Engineer - Matt DeFilippis (The Mattador)
Stage Production, Ax Grinding and Mule Wrangling - Damon Scott and Justin Crockett
Road Merch and Additional Support - Craig Lieske

Scott Baxendale has been building some incredible guitars for us for a few years. He's currently building one for Shonna and a second one for Patterson. They are amazing handcrafted instruments made with love and care (and only the finest of woods). He works out of The Colfax Guitar Shop in Denver, CO and can be reached at

Thanks to Suzi Matthews at Electro Harmonix and Lucas McCulley at Rapco/Horizon. Thanks to Seymour Duncan Pickups, and Stompboxes. Thanks to D'Addario Strings.

Brad has pretty much always played Ludwig Drums and would like to thank Kevin Packard and all the folks there for treating him so well. Brad also wants to send special thanks to Chris Brewer and Meinl Cymbals for all they have done on our behalf. Shonna thanks Ampeg for the fine bass amplification. Jay thanks Nord Keyboards. Cooley thanks Jimmy and Danny at Sommatone for his amazing guitar amp. John Neff thanks Mr. B's Bottleneck Slides and Normandy Guitars.

Tubes, Tapes and Vinyl, Springs, Loops and Cords.
No Artificial Ingredients whenever we can help it.
Rip off the knob and spit if you need to.
It was the boom-stand that killed him.



Daddy's gone away and no one can tell me why
Mommy's been so sad since Daddy learned to fly
Everyone brought food and everybody cried
Nothing's been too good since Daddy learned to fly

The fun we used to have and the way we used to laugh
Have all gone away since they cut my world in half
But sometimes I can see him smiling from the sky
But he never stops to visit since Daddy learned to fly

Everyone tries so hard to ease my troubled mind
I guess he's doing better than the ones he left behind
They say that I'm not old enough to know the reasons why
The clouds reached down from heaven and Daddy learned to fly

They tell me that in time everything will be ok
Life gets back to normal like before he flew away
They say he can see me so I'm trying not to cry
But sometimes I can't help it since Daddy learned to fly

Lyrics: Patterson Hood / Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez
© Razor and Tie Music (BMI)
(August 21, 2008 - 30,000 ft. Airtrans: Atlanta to San Francisco)

Patterson Hood - Lead Vocal, Electric Guitar / Mike Cooley - Lead Guitar / John Neff - Lead Guitar / Shonna Tucker - Bass / Brad Morgan - Drums / Jay Gonzalez - B3 and piano / David Barbe - Electric Guitar


On the first night of my drinking I was looking for my keys
I was half blind and stinking and bloody at the knees
I had a built in fever and bright red cheeks
My checks and balances up shit creek
It was all in fun, I didn't hurt no one until I crawled back for more
Then there was damage done but I made it home and woke up on the floor

On the second night of my drinking I was looking for my car
And as the luck would have it I found it parked outside my favorite bar
I had a leather liver and lipstick streaks
I had a disposition of valleys and peaks
It was a lot of fun until I shot my gun and the neighbors called the law
They didn't take me in but they let it sink in that I was headed for a fall

On the third night of my drinking I was yelling at your house
I had a stick in my hand and was convinced that some man was in there hiding out
I had a foot on your door; you had me down on the floor
I woke up next morning and my jaw was sore
Then I was back at the bar and I was wanting some more
Then I was back at the bar and I was wanting some more
Then I was back at the bar and I was wanting some more
Until they tried to cut me off

On the fourth night of my drinking I had to go it all alone
As my friends list was shrinking and I was sinking like a stone
I had a steely eye and a mouth full of grit
My disposition had gone full tilt
There was a taste in my mouth, I wasn't liking it

Guess it will be through with me before I'm through with it
Guess it will be through with me before I'm through with it
Guess it will be through with me before I'm through with it

Lyrics: Patterson Hood / Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez © Razor and Tie Music (BMI) (December 13, 2008 - Athens GA. Office)

Patterson Hood - Lead and Harmony Vocal, Electric Guitar / Mike Cooley - Lead Guitar / John Neff - Lead Guitar / Shonna Tucker - Bass / Brad Morgan - Drums / Jay Gonzalez - B3 and Wurlitzer; Harmony Vocal / David Barbe - Shaker


Which ones the birthday boy?
she said I ain't got all night
What'd your mama name you?
You can call me what you like
Every skinny mystery gotta make it hard somehow
Sit your narrow ass down hot shot
I'll solve yours right now

You got a girlfriend don't you boy?
Nervous hands cant lie
Married men don't ask how much, single ones ain't buying
One day you got everything, next day it's all broke
Let miss Trixie sit up front
Let her wipe your nose

Working for the money like you got eight hands
Flat on your back under a mean old man
just thinking happy thoughts and breathing deep
Between your mama's drive and daddy's belt
It don't take smarts to learn to tune out what hurts more than helps

The pretty girls from the smallest towns
get remembered like storms and droughts
that old men talk about for years to come
I guess that's why they give us names
So a few old men can say they saw us rain when we were young

Which ones the birthday boy?
she said I aint got all night
What'd your mama name you?
You can call me what you like

Lyrics: Mike Cooley / Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez
© Razor and Tie Music (BMI)

Mike Cooley - Acoustic and Electric Guitar and Lead Vocal / Patterson Hood - Guitar and Backing Vocal / John Neff - Guitar and Lap Steel / Shonna Tucker - Bass / Brad Morgan - Drums / Jay Gonzalez -Piano / David Barbe - Piano (also) and percussion


Drag the lake Charlie
Charlie, drag the lake
Lester didn't come home last night and Wanda's all irate
Better keep your fingers crossed and hope we find him drowned
Wanda's gonna come and kill us all if he shows up in town

Drag the lake Charlie
I heard that he was seen
Cavorting with old Shorty up at the line again
Wanda's got that goddamned pistol in her purse
If she goes back on rampage they'll have to call the hearse

Better drag the lake Charlie
Charlie, drag the lake
Remember what happened last time Lester went on the make
I heard it took the cleaning crew two weeks to clean the bar
They never found that teenaged girl
They never found the car

Drag the lake Charlie / Drag the lake Charlie
It won't be the first time but it might be the last

Drag the lake Charlie
And keep your fingers crossed
And if your friends with Jesus
Please ask him to help us
Our best-case scenario is Lester turns up dead
I'm almost out of Valium, courage and self-respect

Drag the lake Charlie / Drag the lake Charlie
It won't be the first time but it might be the last

Lyrics: Patterson Hood / Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez
© Razor and Tie Music (BMI)
(December 3, 2008 - Athens GA. Office)

Patterson Hood - Lead Vocal, Electric Guitar / Mike Cooley - Lead Guitar / John Neff - Lead Guitar / Shonna Tucker - Bass / Brad Morgan - Drums / Jay Gonzalez - B3 / Harmony Vocals by Shonna Tucker and Jay Gonzalez


It was as open and shut as anything I have seen
He was a pillar of town his reputation was clean
It was right before Easter in the first week of spring
He didn't show up for service that Wednesday night
The congregation knew something weren't right
Blood on the bed when they opened the door
The preacher was dead on the bedroom floor

Everyone knew there had to be some outside thing that made this happen
Because they seemed like the perfect family

He'd been shot in the back, a day before he was found
His wife and three kids were nowhere around
An Amber Alert was issued in town
Everyone was shocked at the scene of the crime
She'd taken the kids across two state lines
Found her in Orange Beach with the kids in the car
Sent back to Selmer to await her trial for first-degree murder

Was she crazy or just plain old mean to have gone and done it?
She said she heard the bang and was afraid he'd be mad and made a run for it

Said, they were having a fight and the gun was a bluff
She didn't pull the trigger it just went off
Said that he berated her about everything
Make her do things that made her feel so ashamed
Nobody at church would ever suspect
Made her dress up slutty before they had sex
In the courtroom that day there was an audible gasp
What they put up on display the locals couldn't quite grasp

There was an audible gasp in the courtroom that day
When the defense pulled out and displayed

Them high-heeled shoes and that wig he made her wear
Reduced her charge to voluntary manslaughter
And I ain't judging either way but she's already out of jail
And it was them high-heeled shoes and that wig he made her wear

Lyrics: Patterson Hood / Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez
© Razor and Tie Music (BMI)
(October 15, 2008 - Athens GA. Midnight in office)

Patterson Hood - Lead and Harmony Vocal, Electric Guitar / Mike Cooley - Lead Guitar (Beat It Gtr.) / John Neff - Lead Guitar (slide gtr.) / Shonna Tucker - Bass / Brad Morgan - Drums / Jay Gonzalez - B3


I see you're runnin' Baby, out of time.
I see you're runnin' Babe, We're way out of line.
You got another and you'll go to her.
You got another and you'll go to her.

Babe, it ain't funny, we've got a lot of love.
And only God knows where the hell it came from.
You got another and you'll go to her.
You got another and you'll go to her.

Lyrics: Shonna Tucker / Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez
© Razor and Tie Music (BMI)

Shonna Tucker - Piano, Bass and Lead Vocal / Jay Gonzalez - B3 and Mellotron / John Neff - Pedal Steel / Mike Cooley - Electric Guitar / Patterson Hood - Electric Guitar and Backing Vocal / Brad Morgan - Drums


Working this job is a kick in the pants
Working this job is like a knife in the back
It ain't getting me further than the dump I live in
It ain't getting me further than my next paycheck

Working this job's running out of excuses
Working this job is like lighting two fuses
It's like a dead end where a roadmap is useless
Until I'm dead and there's nothing to show for my uses

Nobody told me it'd be easy or for that matter be so hard
but it's the living and learning that makes the difference and makes it all worthwhile

Working this job there's nothing left but to hate it
I won't get as far as my daddy made it
Ain't getting me further for all my striving
than the dead end I live on and the piece of shit that I'm driving

Nobody told me it'd be easy or for that matter be so hard
but it's the living and learning that makes the difference and makes it all worthwhile

Sometimes I dream that I had aimed my life in different ways
But there was nothing to show me a way to get out of this place
So I just did what my Daddy did before me
Only to find the only door I found was closed to me

Working this job, it sucked when I had it
Now it is gone and I am learning what bad is
Now I'm trying to hang on to the worst of places
A family can't live on these fast food wages

Nobody told me it'd be easy...

Lyrics: Patterson Hood / Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez
© Razor and Tie Music (BMI)
(June 7, 2008 - Athens GA. Office)

Patterson Hood - Lead Vocal, Electric Guitar / Mike Cooley - Lead Guitar / John Neff - Lead Guitar and Backing Vocal / Shonna Tucker - Bass and Backing Vocal / Brad Morgan - Drums / Jay Gonzalez - B3 and Wurlitzer; Harmony Vocal


Kim said Jimmy you better get yourself up off of that raggedy couch
I'm too pretty to work and I'm tired of you uglying up my house
Jimmy said Baby the guys at the top are doing bad as the guys on the street
Kim said the guys at the top ain't about to be paying alimony to me

Get downtown
see what you can find
put your face in someone's that ain't mine
looks like the unemployment blues
are wearing out your house shoes
Baby left when your boots came untied

Jimmy said baby ain't you seen the news its as far as the eyes can see
Foreigners are coming in and doing our jobs for half of what they would've paid me
You mean half of what you would've made for something you've never done
Sounds like the bright side to all this Jimmy is you're asking price went up
Now get downtown

Jimmy said baby if I work for you're daddy its worse than being his son
Kim didn't like what he said one bit and it didn't surprise him none
She said my daddy took good enough care of my mama she hardly had to say a thing
Jimmy said that's part of what's wrong Kim said don't you say another damn thing
Just get downtown

Lyrics: Mike Cooley / Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez
© Razor and Tie Music (BMI)

Mike Cooley - Lead Guitar and Lead Vocals / John Neff - Lead Guitar / Patterson Hood - Lead Guitar / Shonna Tucker - Bass / Brad Morgan - Drums / Jay Gonzalez - Piano and Wurlitzer


The graffiti on the back stage wall gets painted over in muted shade
The club becomes an Old Navy
After the scene dies

When the last six-string slinger has to bow down for health insurance
and accept the mundane
After the scene dies

When the last one leaves and the last note fades and the last dream's been put away
Shut the light off / Shut the light off

When the front man turns to Jesus and the drummer moves away
I'll still be doing what pleases me
After the scene dies

When the bartender passes and the owner cashes out
And they box up the glasses and take the sound system down
Guitars back in their cases
Don't forget my fries
After the scene dies

Lyrics: Patterson Hood / Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez
© Razor and Tie Music (BMI)
(September 2, 2006 - Corpus Christie TX. Bus)

Patterson Hood - Lead Vocal, Lead Guitar / Mike Cooley - Lead Guitar / John Neff - Lead Guitar / Shonna Tucker - Bass and Backing Vocal / Brad Morgan - Drums / Jay Gonzalez - B3 and Backing Vocal


I don't even like the way it sounds but one day it's gonna be "I told you so"
I'm expectin' that you're gonna be down. One day it's gonna be "I told you so"...

You never listened to a word I said, One day it's gonna be "I told you so"
I told you something' and you kicked me in the head
One day it's gonna be "I told you so" One day it's gonna be "I told you so"...

I'd like to catch you when you're fallin'
But you're too busy for me Darlin'
I tried to tell you you'd be fallin'
Now go on home and do your bawlin'

You picked up 'Crazy' and you let it in your head
Now one day it's gonna be "I told you so"
I'm all full up from the shit I was fed
One day it's gonna be "I told you so"
One day it's gonna be "I told you so"
One day it's gonna be "I told...

Lyrics: Shonna Tucker / Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez
© Razor and Tie Music (BMI)

Shonna Tucker - Electric and Acoustic Guitar, Lead Vocal / David Barbe - Bass / Mike Cooley - Acoustic and Lead Guitar and Bass Vocal / John Neff - Acoustic and Lead Guitar and Backing Vocal / Patterson Hood - Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Backing Vocal / Brad Morgan - Drums / Jay Gonzalez - Dart and Backing Vocals


You said that you'd be waiting for me here in Santa Fe
with hotel rooms and TV's booming loud every night and day
And all I have to do is just be careful what I say and do and what I put us through

Colorado, lines were down
Des Moine's an underwater town
Don't know what it is I thought I'd find out here
It's moving forward as it must
95 and blowing dust
Sitting here and missing us
It couldn't be more clear

You said that you'd be waiting for me here in Santa Fe
with dreams and postponements made along the way
Conditioned by the outstretched miles and high desert air
Thinking I might find you there

Holding you in my dreams
Ricocheting back and forth between my two extremes
of light and dark and all the in betweens
All of us know too well exactly what that means

Will you be here waiting for me here in Santa Fe?
With arms and obligations and tears along the way
All I have to do is revel in the everyday
Then do it again tomorrow
Do it again tomorrow
Do it again tomorrow in some other place

Lyrics: Patterson Hood / Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez
© Razor and Tie Music (BMI)
(June 17, 2008 - Santa Fe, NM. Before and after soundcheck)

Patterson Hood - Lead Vocal, Electric and Acoustic Guitar / Mike Cooley - Lead Guitar / John Neff - Pedal Steel / Shonna Tucker - Bass / Brad Morgan - Drums / Jay Gonzalez - B3 and Wurlitzer and Backing Vocal


And they fell from the skies with the greatest of ease
And they landed on the ground under tents and trapeze
And they were told that they fell with such beauty and grace
That The Flying Wallendas would be the name on their case
And the fine folks of Akron would forever be saying
That they flew through the air like the wings of a prayer
But they all walked away amidst the gawking and stares
And the children revisited their fall in nightmares
But they never would stop and they never surrendered
And they lived like they died, The Flying Wallendas

They could dance on the wire through the fire and the storm
John Ringling had seen Karl in Cuba perform
And he raised up his kids for performance and stardom
They performed center ring at Madison Square Garden
With a seven man pyramid folks lined up just to see em
Till they fell from the sky at Detroit's State Fair Coliseum
And they fell to the ground with the greatest of ease
And three didn't get up from the blood in the breeze
But Karl wouldn't be stopped from his home in the skies
Till he fell from the wire in San Juan and he died

In Sarasota as a child my Grandparents lived next door
To the surviving Wallendas and their amazing wild stories
I was amazed and astounded that the old lady who was out
Pruning her orange trees had flown to the heavens and back

Lyrics: Patterson Hood / Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez
© Razor and Tie Music (BMI)
(March 1, 2009 - Athens GA. Office and snow)

Patterson Hood - Lead Vocal, Electric Guitar and Piano / Mike Cooley - Lead Guitar and Banjo / John Neff - Pedal Steel and Recorder / Shonna Tucker - Bass / Brad Morgan - Drums / Jay Gonzalez - B3, Piano, Accordion and Harmony Vocal


I see you watching me
Your eyes are just like glue
Stuck like glue to every foolish thing I say and do
But there's a safer distance still not out of touch
If Daddy's quiet it probably means he's thinking way too much

Someday you'll be a man
You'll have a big old brain
You wont need it but you'll try to use it just the same
But it's like any house lonely people roam around
Wasted empty space a maze with only one way out

Nobody ever told me half the things I'm telling you
Even if they had I'd have had the same look that you do
Sometimes you think it and you want to hear it said out loud
If no one else does then its up to you to shout it out

You'll want to do it all
And you'll believe you can
But when the best that you can do becomes all you can stand
You'll know you're just a man when you feel all the weight press down
Next time you're watching me remember that's all I am now

Lyrics: Mike Cooley / Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez
© Razor and Tie Music (BMI)

Mike Cooley - Lead Vocals and Acoustic Guitar / Patterson Hood - Second Acoustic Guitar / Jay Gonzalez - Wurlitzer / John Neff - Pedal Steel

GIRLS WHO SMOKE (vinyl only bonus track)

I can tell by her lips she's got fucked up teeth
She's got a banged up grill like she just hit a deer
In a while she'll go down in a tent with a bloke
You know what they say about girls who smoke

It's festival season and all around the UK
They're herding the fans like cattle
All the blogs are alive and the kids are all stoked
You know what they say about girls who smoke

We're parked at the venue the driver will skin you
If you paper or do number two in the loo
It smells so bad as it is you could croak
Outside there's mud and rain and girls who smoke
Girls who smoke - Girls who smoke

It's August and freezing, the headliner's cheesy
The Port-O-Potty's are shaking and wheezing
The catering sucks and vendors blow
It's the middle of the afternoon
Drink like its midnight - Time for the show

But the kids keep coming and Thank God for them
Lasses with passes and dudes round the corner
It's storming in Stafford and everyone's soaked
You know what they say about girls who smoke

Lyrics: Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley /
Music: Cooley, Hood, Morgan, Neff, Tucker and Gonzalez
© Razor and Tie Music (BMI)
(August 17, 2008 - Chelmsford UK - Bus)

Patterson Hood - Lead Vocal, Electric Guitar / Mike Cooley - Lead Guitar / John Neff - Lead Guitar / Shonna Tucker - Bass / Brad Morgan - Drums / Jay Gonzalez - B3 and Dart / Backing Vocals by The Bottom Feeders USA (Cooley, Hood, Neff, Tucker, Morgan and Gonzalez)


Drive-By Truckers - The Big To-Do
Song By Song by Patterson Hood

1. Daddy Learned To Fly

I wrote this song after the death of a friend of mine a few years ago. It was written from the point of view of a child missing his Dad and trying to understand it all. I actually wrote it on a cross-country flight during a very long tour and while missing my own child. I kinda had the idea of it for a while but was struggling with the reality of actually writing it. Once it came together, it happened really fast.

We usually track our songs live and in minimal takes and this one was especially quick in the studio. I think everyone felt it right away and we had it in a take or two.

2. The Fourth Night Of My Drinking

Wrote this one in my office, which is just off from my kitchen at my house in Athens, GA. It's a pretty self-explanatory snapshot of binge drinking taken to a nearly "Leaving Las Vegas" extreme. I used to binge drink quite a bit in my younger days but never tended towards violence. I was always a sweet drunk, although vodka could make me quite belligerent in a comical way. My wife asked me not to drink vodka around her. Never serve white liquor to a redneck.

We spent some time tracking this one, as it originally had a slower intro that bogged it down and it took a bit of time to figure out that it needed dropping. After the basic track I asked Jay Gonzalez (who's now playing keys in the band) to add a horror movie organ part and he lit up like a Christmas tree and immediately nailed the part that's on the record.

I wanted to shoot a video that was part take off / tribute to the old "Dark Shadows" TV show for it, but we'll have to see what happens.

3. Birthday Boy

This was the last song written and recorded for the album. We had already mastered the finished album when Cooley wrote this, which to me provided the one missing element of the album. Not sure of Cooley's motivation and don't want to speak for him except to say the song involves an "awkward" lap dance and Miss Trixie was the character that Madeleine Kahn played in Paper Moon, which is one of our favorite films. In the movie she tells Tatum O'Neal's character to "Let Miss Trixie sit up front with her big ole titties." One of the funniest lines in movie history.

We came home from the road and cut, mixed and mastered this really quickly so that it could make the final cut. I love playing in this band.

4. Drag The Lake Charlie

Not sure what inspired this one. It just kinda played out like a scene from a movie in my head and I just wrote it down. When Wes Freed (our beloved friend who does all of our art work) heard it, he immediately pictured that great scene from The Night of the Hunter where Shelly Winters' dead body is sitting in that old car underwater with seaweed flowing in her hair.

This was the first song we tracked for the album and it kinda set the tone for how the album was going to sound sonically. We wanted to do a "Big Rock" album since our last one was so swampy.

5. The Wig He Made Her Wear

I write about this one in the liner notes. It is based on a real murder that happened in Selmer, TN a few years ago. A prominent preacher in town was shot by his wife and her defense attorney played on the mores and religiousness of the town, successfully I might add, as she was basically handed a suspended sentence and within a couple of years had her kids back. As I've said before, I try hard to never be judgmental about the stories I tell.

When the story broke, we were touring in Norway and I actually saw it on the news over there. The fact that it was all happening about 35 miles from my hometown got my attention. To drive home the fact that I would have to write about it, I have never watched Court TV in my life and happened to be watching it the morning they presented her defense. When they held up the wig, shoes and special outfit he'd make her wear when they had sex, you could literally hear the gasp in the courtroom and I knew she was going to walk. I let the story percolate in my head for a couple of years and wrote it on a Sunday night right before we began tracking the album.

If my memory serves me right, the tracking of this song was one magical take, Everyone just knew exactly where to go with it. Johnny plays that beautiful sleezy slide part and Cooley plays what I refer to as the "Beat It" guitar throughout with the "Purple Rain" sounding soloing at the end. One of my favorite things this band has ever done.

6. You Got Another

One of my favorite things about this band is its messy democracy and open-endedness. Watching Shonna grow into her expanded roles within the band has been a blast. She came in with a really cool sounding demo of this that she cut at home and we all enthusiastically climbed on board.

We tracked this one live in the studio with Shonna playing the piano facing us. Jay played the B3 on the basic then added the Mellotron later. I've always loved Big Star's "Kangaroo" and have always wanted a Mellotron on an album. Johnny plays the Juice Harp during the chorus. This one is going to be a showstopper when we work it up live.

7. This Fucking Job

I wrote this one in my office shortly before the economic collapse of last 2008. I came out of a several year drought of songwriting and wrote about three albums worth of songs for this project but I always knew that this one would be for The Big To-Do.

I never forget how lucky I am to get to do what I love so much as a job and career. I also never forget that it almost never happened and happened only after a lot of sacrifice and some gut wrenching decisions that at the time seemed very foolish to anyone looking for tangible evidence of our reasons. Cooley and I were in our 30's when we started this band. We hit the road with a vengeance that went way beyond obsession and at a pace of much younger bands. At the same time, coming home meant working shitty jobs to pay off the debt that touring at that level incurred (plus some of us were married and everyone had to eat). I can still remember a soul-searching decision where we just decided to go for broke and try to make all of this happen. We didn't really have much chance of making all of this work out to a point of actually making a living at it but decided to do it anyway.

We worked really hard, made some right moves but inevitably we also got lucky and I still go to bed knowing that my shitty old day job is still nipping at my heels and with children in the picture we certainly couldn't be so cavalier in waging it all on some pipe dream.

8. Get Downtown

From day one, this band has gotten lucky with Cooley and I showing up with songs covering similar themes from different points of view and this one connects with "This Fucking Job" in unintended and beautiful ways. I love the conversational lyrics and the back and forth between Kim and Jimmy. I feel like I know them (and probably do).

We had fun cutting it. I especially love the old school battle of the guitars / piano soloing. We used to do that kind of thing a lot and haven't in a while. Having Jay in the loop has taken it to a new level.

9. After The Scene Dies

This one predates the other songs on this album. I actually wrote it on the road during The Black Crowes tour we did back in 2006. We worked it up acoustically and played it during The Dirt Underneath Tour in 2007 and took a few stabs at it for Brighter Than Creation's Dark but never had a take we liked and also just felt like it didn't fit that album (which it didn't).

We've been on the road long enough to see clubs and venues come and go. Every so often we lose a really good one and it's always sad. A "scene" is a fragile thing and sometimes success can kill one as fast as failure. (The same could be said for bands too). I moved to Athens 16 years ago because of the amazing music scene here and have watched it change but continue to thrive. Same time, I see the gentrification of downtown and always fear that a beloved venue will become a parking deck. That's what I wrote this song about.

Shortly after we recorded this song, The Georgia Theatre burned down. Ironically, there was already a plan in place to build a mammoth parking deck, basically surrounding it. Fortunately, my community is rallying and it appears like they will be able to rebuild. I sure hope so.

10. (It's Gonna Be) I Told You So

We were all thrilled when Shonna came in with this kickass rocker. To me it is one part Motown, one part early Pretenders, maybe even a little Wall of Sound girl-group heyday.

We tracked it with Shonna on guitar and David Barbe playing bass. The (World Famous) Bottom Feeders (USA) came by to sing backup. Oh Boy!

11. Santa Fe

I've been writing songs since I was 8 years old and I'm still as perplexed by it's mysteries as ever. Maybe even more so since I probably figured I would have figured it out by now. Sometimes I'll go six months without writing a damned thing and then one day for no apparent reason I'll write several songs in a row. I don't multi-task very well so when I'm in writing mode, I'm seriously not any good for anything else. I'll forget words to songs I know and forget where I put my keys. I have to be really careful crossing streets.

We were parked at the venue in Santa Fe last year waiting to sound check and sitting around on the bus and I wrote the first half of this song. I was interrupted by a visit from a friend and during the visit, he told me a story so intense that I wrote another song based on it five minutes after he left (a song called "Ray's Automatic Weapon" which we have already recorded for our next album) then went back to this one and finished it right after sound check.

This song wasn't based on anything literal happening that day, but I felt like it captured the homesickness and loneliness that often accompanies doing what I love so. We were on The Home Front Tour shortly after the release of Brighter Than Creation's Dark and the Midwest was flooded. We were ending that tour in Des Moines and there was talk that day of having to cancel due to the venue being underwater. It all worked out and we ended up having a great time there.

We spent a little extra time figuring out how we wanted this one to sound and tried several slants and arrangements before locking in on this one. I felt like it was a day very well spent and I think Johnny and Cooley play some extra cool shit on this track.

12. The Flying Wallendas

My favorite movie of 2008 was Man On Wire about that crazy Frenchman who walked on a tightrope between the World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974. I ended up reading Philippe Petit's autobiography about it also, all of which made me start thinking about The Flying Wallendas, who had fascinated me as a kid. My Grandparents did in fact live two doors down from one of the surviving Wallendas in Sarasota when I was a kid. I first became aware of their story from a TV movie that I saw when I was probably around 8 or 9 (around the same time as Petit's famous walk).

I've never been much of a daredevil. Crossing streets sometimes makes me nervous. However, watching that madman describe his obsession and blind pursuit of his dream totally hit a nerve in me. Maybe several. We were already calling the album The Big To-Do before we started recording it. Shonna came up with that title back when we were recording our last album and we all agreed that it would make a great album title (just not that album). It never really had anything to do with circuses but always seemed to imply the show, whatever kind of show. The preacher in the small town was putting on a show. (One could argue the parallels between the church and the Rock Show all day long). We had the clubs closing and the homesickness and somehow all of that led me to write this one about the actual show.

The next day we recorded it and the day after that my friend Jason Thrasher gave me a book on The Ringling Brothers. Jay Gonzalez did an amazing job singing harmony on this one.

13. Eyes Like Glue

This gem of a Cooley song was inspired by something his son said to him a few months ago. I think it's a beautiful song and it certainly speaks for my feelings for my children as well. I would think it speaks pretty well for anyone with children and families and all of the weighty decisions that accompany them.

The Big To-Do Art

This album is the seventh one in a row that has featured artwork by our dear friend Wes Freed. He and his wife Jyl live in Richmond, VA and have been a part of our family for nearly as long as we've had this band. We never tell him what to draw and often give him no input at all, yet he always seems to find some subtext, often one we didn't know was there, that he brings out and runs with.

I think that the relationship has hit a new level on this album, as he basically illustrated every song. He honed in on the circus allusions on The Rock Show and how it all could be tied together in The Big To-Do. As I've said, a lot of this one was written on the road and it has a movement in it that reflects that. Wes picked up on that and ran with it.

Recording The Big To-Do

This album marks the seventh album we've made with David Barbe. (He mixed Alabama Ass Whuppin' and co-produced Southern Rock Opera also, but didn't start from the ground up on one until Decoration Day). It's a partnership that rivals any within the band itself. David is a consummate artist as a player, producer and engineer (as well as parent and baseball coach, both of which are sometimes called for in making our records). There is also a trust between us that can't be quantified and a communication that often helps break through barriers of dysfunction in uncanny ways.

We began recording in January of 2009 and reconvened a couple of times as the year progressed. We actually cut 26 songs (so far) but fairly quickly surmised that it would be best to divide them into two albums (The Big To-Do and Go-Go Boots) and work on finishing The Big To-Do first. We will piddle with the remainders for a while between tours until we have it like we want it and release it at the appropriate time.

Sonically, as a band, we've always resisted trendy sounds and production techniques. They certainly have their place in the grand scheme of things and sometimes in my personal record collection but we've always maintained a preference to record this band in an old school way. Analog, on a sixteen-track tape machine onto 2" tape; then mixed to another tape machine (1/2" two-track stereo). We run a computer simultaneously so that we always have a tape running in case something accidental and beautiful happens and so we never have to ask if it was on but we prefer to get the sounds in as natural a way as possible. The reverb comes from two custom-built plate reverb chambers that David keeps at his studio. David actually has a working Mellotron and our friends in Widespread Panic loaned us their beautiful B-3 for Jay to play.

Our preferred format upon completion is on 180gm vinyl and we spared no expense having Stan Ricker half speed master it onto the lathe and having R.T.I. manufacture the actual record. The vinyl version with its gatefold sleeved album cover (beautifully laid out from Wes' art by my sister Lilla Hood, who has done all of our album art design since Southern Rock Opera) is the absolute best way to enjoy this record. We have also included a CD in the vinyl version so you can listen to it in your car and download it into your iPod. ENJOY!