Texas Country’s Prodigal Son Pat Green Returns “Home”
That’s the term most artists dread being labeled, unless they embrace the direction of making as much money as possible from the beginning of their career and can never sell out because they never sold in, and their concise is immune to such concerns.
And then there’s Pat Green.
To say that Pat Green’s career arc has been unusual doesn’t even begin to explain the half of it. Starting out completely independent in Lubbock, TX, recording albums on his parents’ dime produced by Lloyd Maines, he became a Texas country hero and one of the very first superstars of the burgeoning subgenre during its heyday of the late 90’s. Stars like Waylon, Willie, and Joe Ely were strong influences on Pat, and one of his big breaks came when he played at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic in 1998. He was considered a mverick, maybe even an Outlaw. Next thing you knew he’d sold 250,000 albums without a label. In early 2001, he released his first of two Songs We Wished We’d Written volumes with Cory Morrow that included a cover of Waylon’s “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way.”
Then came a big Miller Lite endorsement, and then the major label. Universal Republic came calling, and not far behind were image consultants, frosted hair tips, shell necklaces, spangly shirts and jean pockets, as well as big-selling albums orchestrated by Nashville producers and consisting of mainstream chart hits. Though Pat never hit the serious big time, and many of his album sales continued to rely on the strong grassroots he’d cultivated in Texas, his 2003 single “Wave On Wave” reached #3 on the country charts—a remarkable feat for a Texas artist. In 2004, he was nominated for the ACM’s New Artist of the Year right beside Dierks Bentley and Josh Turner.
But as Pat was drawn deeper and deeper into the same Nashville machine he’d spent the first portion of his career shying away from and spitting venom at, the calls of “sellout” grew louder and louder. If Pat hadn’t first made his way in the music world independently, and clearly knew better than to fall prey to big producers and image consultants of Nashville, maybe it would have been a different story. Pat wasn’t just a sellout, he was a turncoat, which made him reviled in many of the same circles he helped create in the Texas country scene.
Pat isn’t really isn’t shying away or disputing any of these accounts of his history these days. If anything, he’s embracing them, and in certain moments of his new album Home, singing about them. Publicists, labels, and managers love to craft talking point narratives around album releases to give something for the artist to reinforce in interviews with the media and such. In the run up to the release of Home, one of Pat’s talking points has been his sellout past. He says he made the decision to go the commercial route to make the effort to provide for his family, and though he’s not necessarily proud of it, he’s not running from it or denying it either. It’s just as much a mark of his musical story as anything.
“Yeah I was young, like an old gunslinger, shooting the finger off to any and everyone,” the title track of the new album released through Thirty Tigers starts off. If Green accomplished nothing else on the album, he strikes a chord with “Home” that is incredibly personal, self-reflective and deprecating, and a brutally-honest assessment of an artist by his own pen. “I was blind to the game, I sang the wrong song,” the assessment continues, “and disappeared for way too long,”—-alluding to the extended hiatus in Pat’s career that led up to this new release.
This is not the only song on Home where Pat draws from his personal narrative and shortcomings for inspiration. “While I Was Away” scores an emotional mark too as you hear Pat reminiscing on the passing of time, and the parts of life he’s missed with his kids while on the road making music. Even though the song was written by fellow Texas country singer Zane Williams, it’s true enough where it could be Pat’s own. “I’ll Take This House” is another song inspired by family, and the strength and fulfillment Pat has found post his major label career. “You can keep your mansions full of money . . . I’ll take this house.”
Without anyone left to please but himself, Pat Green is free to exorcise his demons, get some stuff off his chest, make the album he wants to, and hopefully reconnect with those grassroots in Texas country that once helped carry him to the top, and he once turned his back on. To some his name will continue to be mud, but that doesn’t mean his musical output will be.
Pat also takes to opportunity to collaborate with some friends on the new record, including Delbert McClinton, Lee Roy Parnell, and Marc Broussard. “Girls From Texas” is a duet with Lyle Lovett, and though it’s always great to hear Lyle’s voice, especially in collaboration with another, this song about Texas girls that lists off other states and the virtues of the females found there feels like it’s been done 1,000 times. Though there’s nothing wrong with it, “Right Now” with Sheryl Crow might have been the most forgettable track on the album.
Green throws you a curve ball with “Bet Yo Mama”—a sort of Buddy Guy blues song that might be considered misogynist if it wasn’t so anachronistic. It’s a pretty weird anomaly on this track list, but not entirely bad. “Life Good As Can Be” is the type of song that Pat Green has built his career upon—decently-written material that tells a story and gives off a positive vibe. “Day One” is just a damn well-written song, plain and simple. Some are quick to draw no distinction between mainstream country and Texas country, especially when it comes to artists like Pat Green. But the use of story in a song like “Day One” is what separates the two, and gives Texas country the edge in quality and impact on the listener.
The sound of Home is what you would expect from a Pat Green record, and frankly, is one of the drawbacks of the effort. The music settles down in the sort of country pop rock indicative of much of Texas country, especially from the hair highlights crowd of the late 90’s and early 2000’s that Pat Green is a product of. Compared to what passes for “country” today it may sound refreshing, but the music of Home refuses to take chances, and though not hard on the ears, resolves to be incredibly unremarkable, aside from Pat’s efforts to make sure his songs deliver an affable melody, and the traditional leanings of his Lyle Lovett duet.
It feels refreshing to receive an album like this from Pat Green. A country fan is so used to being let down these days, it’s almost expected a new Pat Green record could only go one way, especially considering his past history. This is a Texas country pop release with a few pretty forgettable songs, but some really personal and well-written moments that regardless of style, shouldn’t be discounted because of past trespasses. All we can ask from artists in the 40’s is to continue to attempt to improve. By bearing his soul, getting personal, and being willing to admit his past mistakes, Pat fairly well redeems himself. And just like the parable of the lost son who returns home teaches, there’s no reason not to embrace it, if it lies in your listening wheelhouse.
1 1/4 of 2 Guns Up.
– – – – – – – – – – –
August 26, 2015 @ 9:21 am
Love Pat Green (granted I went to Texas Tech and am from West Texas) and I love that he’s giving new exposure to Zane Williams. Still haven’t listened to the whole album but I like what I hear so far.
August 26, 2015 @ 10:52 am
I really like Pat Green and I wouldn’t call him a sellout. He had his shot at Nashville for 6 years and 1 top 10 hit and few top 40 hits but he went back to Texas just like Jack Ingram did. Eli Young Band is a sellout but enough of that. Pat Green music is very good even when he recorded in Nashville his music sounds like Texas music is some songs.
August 26, 2015 @ 11:09 am
I really dislike the term ‘sellout’, as it applies to pretty much anyone, but especially musicians. We don’t criticize anyone in any other career for trying to provide for their families by trying to make a buck doing what the industry expects you to do to make that buck. Poor is romantic when you’re young and on your own. When you have a family, it loses all appeal. I think the man has balls to acknowledge the fact that he did what he did for the reasons he did and not deny it – to himself or to ‘fans’. I don’t know why we expect our musicians to suffer for their art while we live any way we want to. I’m all good with demanding that radio demands more from the artists they play. But I’m not going to put somebody down for making the kind of music that radio wants in the meantime. Just something to think about.
August 26, 2015 @ 12:50 pm
These are all fair points. The way Pat has decided to handle this criticism in regards to this album release is to acknowledge it and explain his side. Other artists ignore it, and other artists attack their critics. I think when you consider what Pat is saying, and then the actual music on “Home,” even if you do consider him a “sellout,” it’s hard to not forgive him, or at least give him credit for being a stand up guy about the issue.
Deer clint n trigg pleez send money Im so broek that it aint funny. luv yer Lil Dale
August 26, 2015 @ 11:42 am
1. I demaned the emediate reinstatement of clint, homophobic avatar n all, back in to savin country music dot com. this is the bigest travesty in country music sense hank bein kicked out of the oprey.
2. pat green is a classic all timer in the same vane as blate sheltan. looks like his older cooler brother may be.
August 26, 2015 @ 12:29 pm
For the record, Clint was not banned. He is free to post if he wants. I politely requested he consider a different Avatar since the one he was using was causing a distraction, and he chose to no longer post or read the site. I wish Clint was still around too. His perspective was valued by me if nobody else, even though we commonly disagreed.
August 26, 2015 @ 6:12 pm
You’re a big man with a big heart. some of the stuff that goes on in this comment section would drive a lesser man to the grave. Dale and I have both been a part of it, at times. As much as I enjoyed Clint’s commenting, probably more than most anybody else, I thought that avatar was in poor taste. I would never bring it up, because doing so would inevitably start something… I said it before but there really is no winner. Clint did ask other commenters not to debate his avatar here, and they did anyway. I think you made the best choice Trigg…
Bigfoot is Real (naked and afraid)
August 27, 2015 @ 6:41 am
Really? Maybe you should have clicked on his avatar and given him the attention he was seeking. If you had you would have discovered that he is a hate filled racist and as well as homophobe. His presence here did nothing but play upon the misguided notion that ALL country fans are also homophobic racists. When he found out differently he played the victim card and whined that others needed to be tolerant of his assinine values. Honestly, it is his kind that helps drive people away from country music.
August 27, 2015 @ 7:38 am
Got anything helpful to add? or do you just want to start a comment feud? I may not agree with Clint but arguing benefits nobody. Further replies to me about this will not be answered. Thanks.
August 27, 2015 @ 8:26 am
…which is why I requested he stop using the avatar. The problem was solved. The folks who wanted Clint gone have won. So congratulations.
I don’t want ANY perspective banned or feeling unwelcomed at the site. Even though Clint’s perspective might have been disturbing in your eyes, it’s also a perspective many hold. And I think to serve a truly healthy environment, you must include that perspective along with all others. I want pop country fans commenting here, I want hard line traditionalists commenting here. It doesn’t mean any of them are right. It just means that we’re fostering a healthy environment for discussion and inclusiveness. And perhaps from that, some can learn inclusiveness in other aspects of life.
August 27, 2015 @ 9:15 am
“Honestly, it is his kind that helps drive people away from country music.”
As many people as possible need to be driven away from country music. Trying to appeal to the broadest audience possible is exactly why it sucks today.
Oh, and Clint knows about 1,0000 times more about country music than any progressive fascist rat on this site.
Bigfoot is Real (AKA Progressive Fascist Rat)
August 31, 2015 @ 12:32 pm
Well progressive fascist rats like me do know something about correct comma placement in the base ten number system.
August 27, 2015 @ 11:52 am
Does anyone have a link to his website? I went back and tried to find a recent comment but no luck.
August 27, 2015 @ 6:21 pm
Try going back a few more articles. The Daniel Romano review he commented on…
August 26, 2015 @ 11:45 am
To bad he had to go away from the songs that made him so good early on. Songs like whiskey, the bottle, and threadbare gypsy soul were all solid. His cover of Django Walker’s Songs About Texas is excellent as well. Glad to hear Pat’s coming back and trying to record songs that made him so good in the first place.
August 26, 2015 @ 5:11 pm
Songs About Texas was written by Walt Wilkins. Texas on my Mind was Django’s.
August 27, 2015 @ 4:41 am
My bad, you are correct. Should of gave proper credit to an excellent song writer like Walt Wilkins.
August 27, 2015 @ 3:34 pm
Walt is, for a fact, really, really good at what he does.
August 26, 2015 @ 2:48 pm
Single reminds me a tad of Charlie Robison. Generally speaking, though, I’ve written this guy off as essentially pop.
August 26, 2015 @ 7:09 pm
I like Pat, but I will say I’ve basically tuned out everything from “Wave on Wave” until now and listened to his previous stuff instead. I think I’ll give this one a try.
August 26, 2015 @ 7:31 pm
” While I Was Away ” . What a gem of a song . One of the most honest , emotionally evocative things I’ve heard posted here in a while . Everything about this song is right , in my opinion . They lyric is conversational, completely relate-able and flawlessly written telling it like it is for this road-weary dad . The twist on the title is classic country -crafted songwriting…..clever without trying to be . The music could not be more appropriate to the narrative ..supportive at every turn and NEVER looking for the spotlight . Pat’s vocal performance is refreshingly unaffected letting the lyric and melody do the heavy lifting . Nothing on this track gets in the way of the story, the reflective regretful thoughts of the narrative .As a songwriter but mostly a fan of songwriters who understand that its ALL about the song I love this one top to bottom . BTW I was not familiar with this artist’s music history . I’m looking forward to hearing more from Pat Green .
August 27, 2015 @ 6:27 am
Sell out all you want. Just make some good music along the way.
I’m talking to you Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, and Garth Brooks.
August 27, 2015 @ 7:29 am
I hate to admit it (because I generally really enjoy Texas Country) but Trigger is right about the whole Texas Country pop rock thing going on right now in Texas. I feel like every time I listen to a Texas Country Music radio station, the songs are getting closer and closer to the Nashville sound (i.e. Jon Wolfe’s latest record). There are still really good, solid country acts out there (i.e. Zane Williams) but Its rather disheartening because Texas has produced some very unique, well loved country records. That being said, I still think the ship can be corrected. Take the Recent Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen collaboration for example.
August 27, 2015 @ 8:21 am
The difference between Texas country and mainstream country is that in Texas country, there’s still great stuff out there, and there always will be. It’s significantly more diverse, and there’s still a place for traditional artists.
August 27, 2015 @ 8:30 am
I agree with you in that regard (Coming from Austin, listening to KOKE FM). However, I feel as though the quantity of consistently good records coming out of Texas is declining. Perhaps I haven’t technically been in the scene long enough, but the recent mass migration, especially from California, to Austin, I feel, has really watered down the consistency of more country music with more traditional leanings. I could be completely wrong of course but that seems to be what is currently happening, at least in my mind.
August 27, 2015 @ 8:42 pm
Many Texas country artists have moved into a pop-rock territory. Funny Austin that you should mention Zane Williams as traditional. Zane Williams has a strong pop sound to his stuff. The first two tracks off of his latest record sound just like something off of Top 40 FM radio. Nothing like the raw, dusty, or rootsy stuff that attracted me to Texas music in the first place. I love traditional country, but please do not classify me as one of those who is a purist. I love Wade Bowen’s stuff and I would hardly call him a traditional country artist. I love the Dirty River Boys, and they are progressive in their sound as hell, but the stuff Zane and Sam Riggs put out sounds like pure pop fluff to me. Maybe I just don’t get it.
I live in Cedar Park just north of Austin and I work in Austin. I listen to KOKE as well. KOKE drives me nuts sometimes. So much great talent coming out of Texas, and they will play Eric Church or Easton Corbin. I really wish KOKE would focus on Texas. They would be wise to model themselves after KNBT 92.1 out of New Braunfels or even 95.9 The Ranch out of Ft Worth
August 27, 2015 @ 8:49 pm
I dunno…Zane seems to write for 16 year old kids to me. I just can’t get down with Zane. He sounds right out of the generic pop country I ran away from circa 2002-2003.
“I wanna taste your kisses, feel ’em burnin’ on my tongue”¨
The night is kind to lovers, she can keep us forever young”¨ Baby let’s ride”¨
Ah, come on come on come on pretty baby let’s ride”¨
Where it’s you and the moon and me”
“You’re always in a hurry girl, where you gotta go”¨
Rat race runnin’, now what you got to show”¨
Makin’ your mark on the modern-day world”¨
Why you want a man like me girl”
“She is a fighter when you get her goin’”¨
She is a riot when the good times are flowin’”¨
She is the bread to my butter but she’s still a mystery”¨
And it’s hard to say everything she is to me but”
August 27, 2015 @ 11:51 pm
You may be on to something there. I only came across Zane as of late and honestly I haven’t listened to his latest record save the singles. I just keep coming back to Zane through the writing he puts out for people. His single (Jayton and Jill) follows a very standard country progression and writing. While I Was Away is another example of his superior writing style. You pointed out some lyrics of his that i honestly don’t know. I just have been impressed with, at least, some of his older written songs that have been picked up by other artists. I do agree with you about KOKE FM. I honestly think its because of the Californian influx that has created a drive for a more pop sound. I appreciate what The Ranch does for the Texas Country scene and, honestly, I think Ft. Worth is becoming a better live (country) music town. I can appreciate KOKE Fm when they work their way around to playing Chris Stapleton, Lee Ann Womack, Sturgill and others though. I just think the market in Austin wasn’t able to support the staying completely independent of the Nashville sound.
August 27, 2015 @ 11:55 pm
Note* I am not against any Californians moving to Texas. When I discuss the migration of Californians to Texas as an over-saturation I am discussing the musical influence of California with out the crucial Bakersfield type sounds. associated with far west country music
August 27, 2015 @ 8:11 am
“While I was Away” is the best song I have heard in a while that can strike a nerve. This song will be ignored by country radio, but man it hits home. This song should be a radio smash if they would play it. I guess only kids request songs anyway. Oh well, we will never find out.
Jennifer Nettles Signs to Big Machine; Haggard and Nelson Announce Tour; Jason Isbell Salutes Guy Clark | Country California
August 27, 2015 @ 10:41 am
[…] Saving Country Music”™s Trigger wrote about the new Pat Green album. […]