And then there’s Mike Cooley. Especially in the early days of my DBT fandom, I underrated him and his songs. But over the years, I’ve come around.
After all, Patterson Hood was the big picture guy, and almost immediately after Southern Rock Opera, they got Jason Isbell, who came out of the gate with motherfucking “Outfit, so it took me awhile to kinda noticed the baby-faced dude with the ancient voice.
Anchored by three big chords — sometimes crashing loud, sometimes laying back, “Women Without Whiskey” is probably the most gorgeous song on Southern Rock Opera, and like most of Cooley’s greatest songs, it’s a focused character study of someone whose life ain’t doing so well.
You know the bottle ain’t to blame and I ain’t trying to
It don’t make you do a thing it just lets you
When I’m six feet underground, I’ll need a drink or two
And I’ll sure miss you
Take me piece by piece till there ain’t nothing left worth taking away from me
With guitar solos at nearly every turn, and Cooley’s deep sympathy for the guy at the center of his song, “Women Without Whiskey” still doesn’t completely fit in the overall story of Southern Rock Opera, but it was also clearly too great of a song to be left off.
“Women Without Whiskey” performed live in Athens, GA 2004