Crossing Oceans: Music, Memory, and The Drive-By Truckers

Drive-By Truckers
I first heard The Drive-By Truckers on my way to see them live at Bonnaroo in 2005. My oldest brother had been turned on to them by his coworker, and we listened to Southern Rock Opera, Decoration Day, and The Dirty South on through the Blue Ridge Mountains and into Tennessee. As I anticipate the release of English Oceans, The Drive-By Truckers' newest record set to be released today, I find myself turning back to that time in my life. I've always been fascinated by the deep connection music has with memory, and how it can transport us back to a time—a self—we thought we'd forgotten. When I hear a song like The Darkness' “I Believe In A Thing Called Love,” I'm immediately back to 7:17 in the morning as I enter my high school's parking lot, my Ford Ranger's plastic dashboard rattling out alongside the music. I can smell the new asphalt. I think in many ways I was a typical music listener back then. I listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin—enough to find songs that I didn't like—and I'd usually play a little Jay-Z (almost always “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”) or Biggie (almost always “Hypnotize”) here and there; I'd try to hide the fact that one of the first albums I ever bought was Mariah Carey's Butterfly. Under my oldest brother's influence, I also listened to a lot of bands who were more heavily featured in his high school parking lot: Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, and Rage Against the Machine, to name a few.

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  • Point Grey
    A column centered around features by writer Paul Thompson, who's main focus is hip-hop music, news, and the culture.