Certain Songs #360: Drive-by Truckers – “The Righteous Path”

brighter-than-creations-dark Album: Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
Year: 2008

Despite the loss of Jason Isbell, the Drive-by Truckers kept rolling along, and their 2008 album, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark was a definite rebound, despite being their most stripped-down album since Pizza Deliverance.

So naturally, my favorite song on the whole record — Patterson Hood’s “The Righteous Path” — was the most rockingest. But I swear it’s because it’s got my favorite lyric.

With the guitars chopping like axes clearing a way through the jungle, Hood sings:

I got a couple of opinions that I hold dear
A whole lot of debt and a whole lot of fear
I got an itch that needs scratching but it feels alright
I got the need to blow it out on Saturday night
I got a grill in the backyard and a case of beers
I got a boat that ain’t seen the water in years
More bills than money, I can do the math
I’m trying to keep focused on the righteous path

He’s singing this breathlessly, like he’s worrying that if he stops to look around, it’s all gonna catch up with him. After all, he knows how thin the line can be between a good life and a bad life.

There’s this friend of mine I’ve known all my life
Who can’t get it right no matter how hard he tries
He’s got kids he don’t see and several ex-wives
And a list of bad decisions bout eight miles wide
Trouble with the law and the IRS
And where he’ll get the money’s anybody’s guess
He’s a long way off but if you was to ask
He’d say he’s trying to stay focused on the righteous path

Exactly. Even the biggest fuck-ups among us usually think that they’re trying to do the right thing. It’s just that there are a million circumstances that can warp your focus on doing the right thing.

But, of course, it’s hard to hold steady on the righteous path.

“The Righteous Path” performed live on Austin City Limits, 2008

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