3 Songs You Didn’t Know Jason Isbell Wrote for the Drive-By Truckers

Today, Jason Isbell is known as a solo artist. But he came up with the band the Drive-By Truckers before any of his recent success. Indeed, the 44-year-old Alabama-born songwriter and performer, who is known almost as much for his social commentary on social media as he is for his song releases, joined the Truckers at just 22 years old and stayed with the band for about six years.

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Isbell, who has been vocal about his bouts with substance abuse, released his debut solo record Sirens of the Ditch in 2007. With all that life and experience to his name, it can be easy to forget at times that Isbell is a standout composer. Look no further than the songs below. Here are three songs you likely didn’t know Isbell wrote for the Drive-By Truckers.

1. “Gravity’s Gone”

Written by Jason Isbell, Patterson Hood, Shonna Tucker, Mike Cooley, Brad Morgan

“Gravity’s Gone” was released in 2006 on A Blessing and a Curse, the final album from the Drive-By Truckers to feature Isbell. It is also a controversial record for fans and band members as the sound deviates from the Truckers’ more signature Southern rock style and heads towards a more anthemic stadium or classic rock vibe. This song, however, keeps some of the band’s original twang, with acoustics and drawing lyrics. Other songs Isbell had a major hand in on this album include “Daylight” and “Easy on Yourself.” The song opens,

I went stumbling through the fog
Trying to find a reason for the things I told her
She woke up sunny side down
And I was still thinking, I was too proud to flip her over

Between the champagne, hand jobs
And the kissing ass by everyone involved
Cocaine rich comes quick
And that’s why the small dicks have it all

2. “Goddamn Lonely Love”

Written by Jason Isbell

From the Drive-By Truckers album The Dirty South, which was released in 2004, this song is part of an overall concept, which the Truckers have come to be known for and Isbell too, of poking holes in the South’s “traditions.” The album ends on this Isbell-penned song, which he wrote around the time of his divorce from his first wife, musician Shonna Tucker. Isbell has called it a love song, but it’s the lonely side of love when love is gone that is most at hand here. The forlorn country song opens,

I got green and I got blues
And everyday there’s a little less difference between the two
I belly-up and disappear
Well, I ain’t really drowning ’cause I see the beach from here

And I could take a Greyhound home but when I got there it’d be gone
Along with everything a home is made up of
So I’ll take two of what you’re having
And I’ll take all of what you got
To kill this goddamn lonely, goddamn lonely love

3. “Outfit”

Written by Jason Isbell

From the Truckers’ 2003 album, Decoration Day, which was the first to feature Isbell, “Outfit” elucidates advice Isbell’s father gave him. Don’t worry about losing your accent, call home on your sister’s birthday, and don’t give it away. It’s a moving, personal song with much wisdom. The song includes this advice,

Don’t call what you’re wearing an outfit
Don’t ever say your car is broke
Don’t worry about losing your accent
A Southern man tells better jokes

Have fun, but stay clear of the needle
Call home on your sister’s birthday
Don’t tell ’em you’re bigger than Jesus, don’t give it away
Don’t give it away

Photo Alysse Gafkjen / Courtesy Sacks & Co.

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