Welcome 2 Club XIII by Drive By Truckers


And so it’s come to this. Which catastrophe can I process today? The Russian invasion of Ukraine leading to a four year old girl being killed by a missile in Vinnytsia? Or is it the issue of the next Prime Minister of the U.K. where the choice is between a billionaire, an idiot, a climate change denier, a liar and an angry man? When I read that Kemi Badenoch describe it as typical of the left wing that she was discouraged from being a doctor because of the colour of her skin, I’m actually speechless. The rewriting of truth whereby the party that represents the oppressed and under privileged is accused of being in favour of maintaining the superiority of those with wealth, power and white skin is so shocking that I can’t really articulate a valid counter argument.

In a televised debate last night, only the billionaire backed a target of net zero emissions by 2050. Yes, that’s right. 2050. A target of ensuring the sixth wealthiest nation in the world won’t stop destroying the planet in 28 years time was not supported by four of the five candidates. The idiot and the liar would only support it if it didn’t harm the economy. The climate change denier and angry man put their own ambitions ahead of the future of the human race. These five self serving, narcissistic, power mad, egocentric, right wing politicians are aiming to become one of the most powerful people in the world, (even if BREXIT (which they all support) means the position is less influential than it could be). It’s a hot scary summer.

Which leads us to the third catastrophic issue. The forecast is for the temperature to rise to the mid thirties today and tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to this as I don’t like very hot weather. I’m also quite concerned about Roo as her MS makes it extremely difficult and distressing for her when it’s over 25 degrees, let alone 35. As I write, it’s 8:30 in the morning and we are sitting in the dark with the curtains drawn, the lights off and fans on trying to minimise the impact of the imminent ferocity. To lighten my mood, I’ve read an article in The Guardian by Bill McGuire. He is a professor of geophysical and climate hazards at UCL and he cheerily states that “when our children are our age, they will yearn for a Summer as cool as 2022” because summers are going to get hotter and last longer, punctuated only by short winters consisting of flash floods and damaging storms.

So today, climate change is my main concern and I have a choice but to “drive on past the near flaming demise” (as Drive By Truckers sing in the opening song on this astounding album). I could read the paper in it’s entirety (and probably end up phoning The Samaritans) or I can listen to great music, write some incoherent nonsense and watch “Star Trek – Brave New Worlds”. I’m opting for music and crap TV, my refuge in bad times since there’s no sport on TV today.

But let’s get back to Bill McGuire for a connection to Drive By Truckers. In years to come, our children (your children – I don’t have any) will reminisce about the good times of 2022. Looking back on the past can have a positive or a negative effect on my mood and disposition. Remembering good days can elicit good memories but dwelling on the past can place the present in a depressing context and make it hard to face the future at all. This is what Bill McGuire thinks your children are going to do. Equally problematic is reliving past mistakes and feeling guilty about things I have said or done or people I have hurt or let down. Learning from past mistakes is essential but wallowing in them is destructive. More damaging is worrying about lost opportunities and concluding that “life is shit and then you die”, as an old friend messaged me the other day. So, looking back can be beneficial but it can also be harmful.

The opening track on “Welcome 2 Club XIII” finds the singer looking back on his past exploits, driving around the USA. He recalls seeing flaming dumpsters and Klansmen in a town called Tuscumbia in North West Alabama, where “the Main Street is a time trip to the past”. In other words, he is reminiscing about a past where he was thinking of an even more distant past. Your children will be reminiscing about how we felt in 2022, thinking about the glorious cold, wet summers of our youth. In the fourth verse of “The Driver”, the singer (or narrator, since the words are spoken, not sung) remembers driving West of Texas, into previously unexplored areas of the country with “our lives spread before us like a page. An unwritten novel, our Huck Finn adventure come to life.” At one point, he and his friends switched off the car stereo and “let the wide open vistas fill our minds.” In the final verse, he is on a bus and a flaming meteor just missed killing them all. He repeats the line “We drove on past a near flaming demise” four times at the conclusion of the song. That’s all we can do. We have no option but to continue with our lives despite the near flaming demise of a Liz Truss Premiership. God help us.

In 1836, Maria Monk published a book called “Awful Disclosures Of Maria Monk or The Hidden Secrets Of A Nun’s Life In. A Convent”. She told her story of her time in a Montreal convent, forced to have sex with priests from the next door seminary and watching unco-operative nuns disappear. If any nun had a baby, it was baptised and then strangled and dumped in a lime pit in the basement. After many Catholics from Ireland and Germany emigrated to the USA, there was a groundswell of anti-Catholic feeling in the country and the book became a best seller, becoming the most widely read book in the country before the publication of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852. A public outcry demanded that the convent be investigated and two separate reports concluded that the book was a complete work of fiction with no foundation in reality. It transpired that during the time that Maria Monk claimed she was in the nunnery, she was a patient in the Magdalen Asylum for Wayward Girls in Philadelphia. When her dishonesty was disclosed, her supporters abandoned her and she was left destitute, dying in an almshouse in 1849, aged 33.

Track Two on “Welcome 2 Club XIII” is “Maria’s Awful Disclosure” and is one of two songs on the album which were written by Mike Cooley. It tells the story with much sympathy for Maria Monk, hinting at how she was manipulated by ghost writers and publishers. “If some know nothing, nothing’s keeping some from knowing it all” is a great line which, in time, I might fully comprehend. More relevant is a pointed comment about pedlars of fake news taking advantage of the susceptible. “Professional victims with recycled lies stoking satanic panic in fear addled minds”.

The title track of the album is a barroom stomper which reminds me of “Mr. Wrong” from Cracker’s first album. Club XIII doesn’t sound like the sort of place you’d take someone you were trying to impress with your cultural sophistication but it sounds like fun. The bartenders can’t be bothered, the people on the door have an attitude, the crowd is rude and the opening act is a Foghat cover band. (That’s a bit hard on a great English rock band from the 1970’s). Between acts, the sound system is tuned in to Radio Tokyo which is playing “Sweet Home Afghanistan”. Patterson Hood, who wrote most of the songs on the album, conceived this as a song to be played when he gave solo performances but the song went down so well with audiences, he suggested it to the rest of the band who immediately conceived of a “Replacements vibe”. It’s a great song and I want to go there.

“We will never wake you up in the morning” (only the first word is capitalised) is a look back at the life of a friend who has hung himself. “The season of our discontent has given way to torment” neatly sums up the desperate life of a soul whose life never found happiness or fulfilment.

“Forged In Hell And Heaven Sent” is sung by Patterson Hood and Margo Price. The singer is reacquainting himself with another old friend and they are looking back on their youth when they raised hell, driving recklessly, racing trains and chasing storms. Although they have both fallen on hard times, they have raised families and trying to live in the moment without dwelling too much on life’s disappointments. “I’m trying to make this time that we’re in last, not let the moments all slip past”. Although they were bad in their youth, their friendship gives their lives a purpose. “The minutes we’re together are forged in hell and heaven sent”.

My favourite song on the album is “Every Single Storied Flameout” which is sung by Mike Cooley with anger and conviction. The target of his vitriol is any rock singer who dares to peddle well intentioned lies as rules for living a worthwhile life. Most of his denigration is aimed at himself, “If I’d been my example, I’d be worse”. It’s an up-tempo busy song with added brass to complete another thought provoking rock song from a band whose body of work over the past 26 years bears comparison with the very best.

Published by wilfulsprinter

Music lover

3 thoughts on “Welcome 2 Club XIII by Drive By Truckers

  1. Great analysis of the shameful, hypocritical and mind bogglingly useless candidates to become the UK’s next joke prime minister. And their collectively dismissive attitude to climate change just rubs salt into the wound. This album sounds like a great antidote to all that. I’ll give it a listen.

    Liked by 1 person

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