My Top 1000 Songs #314: Puttin' People On The Moon
The Drive-By Truckers have so many harrowing, truly moving populist anthems, it's hard to pick one without picking a half dozen; I was all set to hone in on the amazing "Sink Hole," but ended up pivoting back to "Puttin' People On My Moon," one of the songs that first attracted me to the band. This track from 2004's The Dirty South, like much of that amazing record, pairs post-punk Southern rock with no-holds-barred, thoroughly de-romanticized examinations of Southern politics, culture, and economics. "Moon" is downright savage, a mini soap opera raging at income inequality in America, the narrator's descent into despair and drug-dealing in response to personal health crises, Breaking Bad set to Lynyrd Skynyrd. He shakes his fist at the nearby NASA outpost, a nation blowing money on space exploration rather than his wife's cancer treatment, but there are no easy answers to be found.
"Another joker's in the White House, said a change was comin' 'round. But I'm workin' at the Walmart, Mary Alice in the ground." The whole song is just one holy shit moment after another.
(Incidentally, my wife & I did a civil rights road trip through the South earlier this year, and made a stop in Huntsville, AL, home to the NASA space center in question; nice town, worth it just to check out the Lowe Mill arts center--fantastic collective of artists in the most unexpected of places.)
BTW, the Truckers recently released a revamped version of Dirty South, which includes a new version of "Moon"; I checked it out, and I'm still partial to the original.Live in 2008:Here's the new version with re-recorded vocals: