Drive-By Truckers – Live At Cooley’s House

Live At Cooley’s House (Bootleg, rec. 2003)


1. Zip City 2. Lookout Mountain 3. Decoration Day 4. Winter Wonderland 5. Love Like This 6. Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus) 7. Outfit 8. Where The Devil Don’t Stay 9. Murdering Oscar 10. When The Pin Hits The Shell 11. Do It Yourself 12. Danko/Manuel 13. George Jones Talkin’ Cell Phone Blues 14. Uncle Frank 15. Goddamn Lonely Love 16. The Company I Keep 17. Little Pony And The Great Big Horse 18. Never Gonna Change 19. The Day John Henry Died 20. Tales Facing Up 21. Bulldozers And Dirt


Boot boot boot booty bootleg!! I DID IT! I TOOK THE BOOTS!!! UNDER THE FLOORBOARDS!!!!

That was some vintage SpongeBob shit right there. I hope y’all appreciated that.

Did you ever wish your could hear a recording of the Stones sitting around on the porch of Nellcote with acoustic guitars in between the takes that resulted in Exile? Well, you’re shit out o’ luck, cause that shit ain’t never gonna happen. In between takes, they were all shooting up or flying off to Paris or fucking each others wives and girlfriends. And you wondered why Dirty Work happened. But have you ever wondered what Drive-By Truckers would sound like sitting around Cooley’s house playing acoustic guitars in period straddling the release of Decoration Day and The Dirty South? THEN BOY ARE YOU IN LUCK.

No seriously, I only bring the Stones comparison up, because if a comparable recording were to surface of Mick, Keith, Mick Taylor, and Bill Wyman fucking a 14-year old girl while they played down acoustic versions of golden era Stones classics, I would probably spend my entire life savings and be willing to go down on Gollum-looking 70-year old Anita Pallenberg for the pleasure. See, that’s not the kind of thing we normally get from our favorite classic rock bands! The curtain is too tightly pulled in front of them. Fortunately there’s a buncha classic rock legends walking amongst us that aren’t dying of hepatitis and their names are “DBT.” This intimate, guard-down, home-recorded set is the kind of shit most old people would die for from the likes of the Stones, the Beatles, the Allman Brothers, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, the Eagles, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Bad Company, Elton John, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Mountain, Derek and the Dominoes, Free, Steppenwolf, The Band, Billy Idol, Chicago, Dire Straits, Grand Funk Railroad, John Mellancamp, Santana, ZZ Top, Steely Dan, Pearl Jam, The Kinks, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Blue Oyster Cult, Electric Light Orchestra, Chuck Berry, Kansas, Deep Purple, Motorhead, Oasis, REM, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bees Gees, Yes, Fleetwood Mac, Journey, Cream, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Black Sabbath, Billy Joel, Creedance Clearwater Revival, Foo Fighters, Steve Miller Band, KISS, Stone Temple Pilots, Aerosmith, Grateful Dead, Genesis, Nirvana, David Bowie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rush, the Beach Boys, Guns & Roses, Boston, Foreigner, Iron Maiden, U2, The Police, The Who, Queen, Metallica, The Eagles, Van Halen, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin. And if you think I got that entire list off of Yahoo Answers, aka The Cesspool of Humanity, then fuck you for figuring out how to use Google.

My only point, if I have any whatsoever, is that this is the kind of shit diehards would cream themselves over if it was laid down in the 70s, just cause it was recorded two days before New Year’s Eve in 2003 doesn’t means it don’t deserved to be creamed over. Nonetheless, Live At Cooley’s House is not the thing you’ll want to listen to if you care about things like “singing in tune,” “playing the right chords,” “not having a bunch of drunken chatter going on all the time.” Nah, see, this was an informal soiree at the abode named in the title, with only the band’s crew and respective families in attendance. So they were less concerned with such trivialities than were about gettin’ hammered and yukkin’ it up. But what it lacks in polish it more than makes up for in great songs and opportunities to hear a great band at the height of their powers at their most unguarded. I refuse to use the well-worn phrase “a peak behind the curtain” in this case, because that implies there was a curtain to peak behind in the first place. Of course every public figure puts up a public façade to some degree. But part of what makes DBT so appealing is that they seem far less concerned with appearances than they do with the songs. They care too much about craft to ever actually release something as sloppy as this set, of course, but its existence doesn’t put any kind of dent in a deliberately cultivated public image – it adds to an organically developed one.

Do I sound hopelessly naïve and stupid right now? “I love them because they’re more REAL than everyone else, you plastic conformist nitwits!” I know DBT aren’t the only band of genuinely regular folks in the biz, and even if they were, I wouldn’t give a shit if they didn’t write such great songs. The fact that I know the stories behind those songs and can verify that they came from a genuine place just adds depth to them. And hearing what those songs sound like in such a relaxed setting as the one presented on this boot adds even more depth to them.

Actually, perhaps the most notable aspect of this set is the fact that it was recorded just after buxom blonde Shonna Tucker, Isbell’s then-wife, joined the band as the new bass player, and before they had actually played any shows with her. So you’ll get to hear Jason shouting out chord changes in the middle of songs and nervous comments from the new bass player like “y’all have a lot of songs…” Well, if Shonna made many mistakes, I sure didn’t notice, cause I was mostly listening to the guitars. Well, the guitars and the talking. Yeah, half the fun of this thing is listening to them drinking and chattering away like nobody’s listening and summarily reveling in the fact that they act just like you always thought they did when behind closed doors. Well, more or less. The usually gregarious Patterson is surprisingly reserved and not saying much at all. Meanwhile, Jason is blabbering away at a near constant clip like a drunk ass motherfucker, and singing like one too – that reedy hitch in his voice says nothing if not “I’ve had about nine whiskey drinks since I got here.” It made him the life of the party in this instance, but within another three years, his drinking would nearly break up the band. And it took him another half dozen years or so after that to get sober. Honestly in the present day it’s hard not to listen to him here without thinking about what was to come for him later on, at least for me. Anyway, overall, the set makes for an interesting glimpse into intra-band dynamics that us fans rarely ever get to catch of any band.

But you know what, even if they just sat in complete silence between songs, Live At Cooley’s House would come highly recommended from me. For as loud as DBT can often get, especially during the Isbell period, they’ve always been a songwriter’s band first and foremost, and stripping their best tunes down to the bare bones only makes them shine more. Who cares about the shaky inebriated harmonies and sloppy licks? These are some of the greatest rock songs of their era. All of ‘em (well, except for the Jason-sung attempt at “Winter Wonderland.” It was Christmas, after all, but they don’t get to count that one). They reach back for some golden oldies like “Love Like This” and “The Company I Keep,” plus they play a bunch of the then-upcoming The Dirty South. They even do some rarities that wouldn’t be released officially until more than five years later (Cooley’s “Little Pony And The Great Big Horse” and Patterson’s “George Jones Talkin’ Cell Phone Blues” would eventually come out on the outtakes collection The Fine Print, while an electrified version of the stomping “Murdering Oscar,” transformed her into a gutbucket blues thanks to Jason’s tasty slide, would become the title track of Patterson’s second solo album). And like I said, maybe I’m just getting played by these guys after all (though I severely doubt it), so make if it what you will when I say that it don’t get much more authentic than this.


  1. victoid wrote:

    Sure sounds tasty! I love that kinda stuff.
    Some of the outtakes from Exile and the acoustic studio rehearsals for Stripped give a little taste of the real Stones but that’s a really thick curtain to pull back even a touch and these glimpses are hardly as intimate and informal as what you describe here.
    The problem with copy/paste is you reproduce the errors: misspellings of Mellencamp and Creedence and a double mention of The Eagles, an error I expect you would find unforgivably egregious.
    But looking at that list, I realized that I have seen almost all of those acts over many years, with a few regrettable exceptions (Zeppelin, Beatles, AC/DC, ZZ Top, Sabbath) and a few more I fortunately avoided (Yes, Journey, Kansas, Oasis, Bee Gees, ELO). O what a lucky man I wa-as.

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