Music That Makes a Difference 2018

Music That Makes a Difference 2018

CNN Music & Art

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson

CNN Music & Art

Eddie Van Halen donates guitars to public schools

Eddie Van Halen

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Patterson Hood compares Donald Trump to George Wallace

Patterson CNNLos Angeles (CNN) The lead singer of Drive-By Truckers, Patterson Hood, admits that he fits right into Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” – at least on paper: a middle aged white guy from north Alabama and front man of a southern rock band. But nothing scares Hood more than a potential Donald Trump presidency.

“We’re supposed to hold democracy as this beacon of light to the rest of the world,” Hood told CNN‘s John Vause in a recent interview. “If we elect somebody like that it’s gonna make people question, ‘Maybe their queen’s not so bad.’”

The Drive-By Truckers just released their eleventh album, American Band, and their frustrations with this country are uncorked with every note. The band squints a critical eye at race relations, gun violence, crooked corporations and political fear-mongering.

dbt album art

Hood links Trump to former Alabama Governor and segregationist George Wallace. “They both tapped into a seething anger that was under the surface and were able to catapult that into their own power,” he says. “It’s scary.”

Hood believes centuries of racism, especially in the deep South, is the biggest blemish on American history. It’s part of the reason the flag flies at half-staff on the band’s latest cover art.


DBT 1“I think as long as you have politicians who are stoking fear of ‘the other’ for their own means, it just drags it out and makes the healing take longer. I think Trump is very much the product of what the Republican Party has been doing and pushing forth as their agenda… He’s just saying those things out loud that have been implied in coded language for the last decade or so.”

But as Barack Obama’s second term as president comes to a close, opinion polls show race relations got worse during his tenure.

“I liken it to – if you go down into your dark basement and you turn on a light and you realize that you have bugs or rats or something scampers when the light comes on,” Hood says. “I feel like the Obama presidency has sort of turned a light on some of this.”

One of the tracks on American Band is called “What it Means.” Hood wrote it in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting and Ferguson, Missouri, protests. He doesn’t mince words as he takes the country’s temperature.

If you say it wasn’t racial
When they shot him in his tracks
Well I guess that means that you ain’t black
It means that you ain’t black
I mean Barack Obama won
And you can choose where to eat
But you don’t see too many white kids lying
Bleeding on the street


Unfortunately, “What it Means” doesn’t have any answers. It just asks a lot of very tough questions. As Hood says, “I look at that song as the beginning of a conversation that, perhaps, we all need to have.”

Written and produced by: Ben Bamsey for “CNN Newsroom L.A.

Ben With Patterson

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