LOOTING THE BINS WITH PATTERSON HOOD

Browsing America’s
record stores with musicians – famous and infamous.

BY ANDY TENNILLE

 

“$2.99? Shit, I might buy another copy for $2.99. That
album’s well worth it.”

 

Patterson Hood shakes his head in disbelief at the deal in
his hands. Considering the gritty rock ‘n roll that Hood makes fronting the
Jack Daniels-guzzling Drive-By Truckers, you might think any album that he
believes merits repurchase would run along the lines of the Stones’ Exile on Main Street or The
Replacements’ Let It Be. But with
Hood –a known vinylholic with diverse musical tastes – all bets are off.

 

“Anyone that grew up when I did that says they weren’t
influenced by Elton John is just flat-out lying,” he decrees, hoisting Sir
Elton’s glorious 1973 triple-fold, double-album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road into the air at Amoeba Music in Berkeley.
“The guy was ubiquitous. He was huge, and he wrote some amazing songs with
these melody lines that I’ll hear in my head ‘til I’m dead. Dark Side of the Moon and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road were two of my
very first records I ever bought.”

 

Hood’s right, of course. The man with the pseudonym Sir
Horace Pussy rode a creative peak, from 1970s Tumbleweed Connection to Captain
Fantastic and the Dirt Brown Cowboy
in ’75, that is the stuff of legend.
Stevie Wonder’s extraordinary mid-‘70s albums – Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale – come to mind as well, as does the
recent run by Radiohead culminating in release this past fall of the
industry-shattering, pay-what-u-want In
Rainbows
.

 

“I think the whole thing was cool as shit,” Hood says,
fingering the band’s new box set. “I downloaded it for free and then bought the
vinyl when it came out. I figured that was fair enough. If people did the same
thing with our music, that’d be fine by me. I’m all about deconstructing the
business, burning it down and then rebuilding. It can’t be much worse.

 

“As far as the music, I love everything about that record.
It’s like a soul record to me. It’s so soulful and the songs are so good. You
can hear ‘em counting stuff off. It sounds a lot more live and not as processed
as some of their other work. The songs hold up on just an acoustic guitar and
that’s always a good measure for me – if something can be stripped down to just
an acoustic and still sound good, it’s passed the test in my book.”

 

Another band that’s passed Hood’s litmus test is The Kinks.
While critics constantly compare the Truckers to Southern rock icons Lynyrd
Skynyrd, the group’s punkier side was born of a collective love of the twitchy
riffs and primal simplicity of tunes like “You Really Got Me.”

 

“I just love the fuckin’ Kinks,” he says. “I’ve been
listening to Village Green Preservation
Society
a lot recently, but I hadn’t heard Ray Davies new one yet. I hear
he wrote a song about being shot down in New
Orleans. If I got shot, you better believe I’d write a
song about it too. It’d be called ‘That Motherfucker Who Shot Me…I’m Gonna Kill
Him.’”

 

Movies run a close second to music with Hood, who loved “No
Country for Old Men” enough to see the Coen Brothers’ Oscar-winner twice.
Wandering through Amoeba’s extensive DVD section, the Alabama native grabs The Stanley Kubrick Collection (2001: A
Space Odyssey / Dr. Strangelove / A Clockwork Orange / The Shining / Lolita /
Barry Lyndon / Full Metal Jacket / Eyes Wide Shut) before bolting down the
aisle toward the concert films.

 

“You know what I need? I’m looking for The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show,” Hood says, searching high and
low. “It came out last year and has all the best musical guests from the show –
Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Hank, Waylon, Neil Young and Loretta Lynn. We watch
a ton of concert DVDs while we’re on tour riding around on the bus and I’ve
been looking for this one ever since I read about it.”

 

Seeing Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers rock the Super Bowl
halftime show has revived a serious Petty jones in me. When I mention this to
Hood, he’s dumbfounded that I haven’t seen Peter Bogdanovich’s amazing,
four-hour documentary, Runnin’ Down a
Dream
.

 

“Buy it immediately,” he says, handing me the DVD. “It’s
amazing, really great. The concert footage they have from back when the
Heartbreakers started as Mudcrutch is incredible. I’m a huge Petty fan, always
have been.”

 

“You really never see any old Tom Petty records for sale in
record stores,” I say, flipping through the scant few in the Used Rock bin. “I
guess people hold on to their Petty when they get it.”

 

“For good reason: Petty’s built to last,” Hood guffaws.
“Landfills are too full to make disposable records. The trick is to make
something worth keeping.”

 

With the recent release of their catalogue on 180-gram
vinyl, it’s safe to say Hood and the Truckers have been considering their own
legacy of late. Hood, for one, is happy fans can finally drop the needle on
Truckers classics like “The Living Bubba” and “Box of Spiders.”

 

“It’s crazy seeing these records pressed to vinyl with the
covers so big,” Hood says, signing a freshly-pressed copy of the band’s 2003
album, Decoration Day. “It’s been a
long-time coming, I’ll tell ya. I’m not sure when the new one will come out in
vinyl, but I’m real excited about that. I usually can’t listen to the records
too much after they come out, but this one’s held up better for me than most.
We’re real proud of it. It’s my favorite record we’ve ever done.”

 

As Hood waxes nostalgic about the Truckers’ latest, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, his
long-time running partner and Truckers guitarist Mike Cooley appears with a
mischievous grin on his face.

 

“This can’t be bad,” Cooley says, excitedly handing Hood a
DVD copy of “Pervert!”, Jonathan Yudis’s 2005 slasher skin flick starring porn
star turned California gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey. “Look at the quote
on the front: ‘Sex, death and gore – is this the best movie ever!’”

 

“Goddamn,” Hood exclaims. “What a recommendation!”

 

 

 

 

 

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