Song Premiere: Patrick Sweany, “Working For You”

(Photo: Nate Burrell)

Patrick Sweany has been playing gigs since the early ‘90s, mixing his bluesy Rust Belt roots with heavy-handed doses of folk, rock & roll and Southern soul. On his new album, he looks back on his 20-year career and takes stock of the present. Several songs deal with the unexpected loss of two family members, but angrier tunes like “Working For You” turn their focus to the stage, a place Sweany knows all too well.

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“‘Working For You’ is my manifesto of stubborn adherence to touring in the face of adversity and indifference,” he says. “It is definitely a song I fantasize about being a road band anthem. Band dudes singing along to it in the van, like the dirt rock version of the bus scene in Almost Famous. That’s the fantasy, anyway — an anti-ripoff rallying cry. I know that every musician has been ripped off, and this song comes from a particularly unpleasant experience on a particularly low-budget tour.”

Like the rest of the slinky, sweaty tunes that comprise Close to the Floor, “Working For You” was recorded to 2” tape in Nashville. Dan Auerbach, Sweany’s former bandmate and fellow Ohio expat, doesn’t handle the production duties this time, but Sweany still packs in plenty of cameos from other Nashville heavyweights, including Lambchop’s Ryan Norris and session drummer Jon Radford.

“[This song] is definitely voicing a little pent-up anger at the poor treatment you can receive as a performer, especially from the people who would immediately benefit from you having a successful performance,” he added. “It’s also a voice to the frustration of not being more successful, and the succession of corners you cut to stay afloat. Lots of people do it; no one is proud of it. ‘How’s that working for you?’”

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