Pat Green spends a record tipping his hat to his influences
Pat Green has been something of a favorite son in the Texas music scene long enough to give advice — and still smart enough to take it. If there’s one piece of advice he’s been true to, it’s “Know thyself,” and its corollary, “Be yourself.”
That’s the answer he offered when asked why he kept his boots parked on the soil of the Lone Star State instead of making Nashville his home base.
“I look at it with a business mind, too,” Green said. “Back when I started, 30 percent of country music that was bought was bought right here in Texas. Now, I don’t know if that holds true today, but it was one of the reasons why I wanted to be in Texas. This is where it was happening. And it just made sense to tour where you could be out among your fan base. Other than that, Texas is home for me.”
There it is again: that idea that a musician can be his best writing what he knows. And any music or literature fan can name a title or two where the setting is as much a part of the story as the characters.
Just be who you are, Green says. The rest will line up accordingly.
Green plays at 8 p.m. today at WinStar World Casino as part of the Thackerville, Okla. casino’s Red Dirt music concert series. Green keeps his live set churned and ready with oldies, and he’ll also perform some tunes from Songs We Wish We’d Written, Vol. 2.
The 2012 album is Green’s second round in the studio with his most cherished songs by other artists. He puts his own stamp on Joe Ely’s “All Just to Get to You,” Shelby Lynne and Greg Ballard’s “Jesus on a Greyhound,” Tom Petty’s “Even the Losers” and Lyle Lovett’s “If I Had a Boat.”
“A cover song is the best way to pay a compliment,” Green said. “At least to me it is. There’s a hat for every head, and I can wear a lot of hats. I can try to do a song as close to the original as possible, like I did with the Lyle Lovett tune, and then I can turn around and do it a lot differently, like I did with ‘Even the Losers.’ There’s no right way to cover a song.”
Green said there wasn’t anything special about the selection process — though he and his band suggested more titles than would fit on an album (or maybe even a box set).
“There was nothing methodical about it,” he said. “Pizza is great for leveling things. We discussed it over pizza, and then we went into the studio and recorded the songs.”
As for arriving at the 10-track album, Green said a musician has to follow his heart when it comes to making a record that sounds coherent and whole.
When he was just starting out, Green said he had a rule: He’d perform one song each by Springsteen and Petty. He’s still drawn to those musicians and still appreciates much of their music. But that rule has loosened and his favorites have informed his songs more deeply.
Like a lot of Southwestern songwriters, Green tours in “little blocks,” meaning that he travels on weekends for shows but stays as close to home as he can.
“You can tour pretty much in two ways — big blocks or little blocks. The little blocks work for me,” he said. “I’m older now. I have a family, and being home more is important to me.”
Green is a Grammy nominee with deep cred in Red Dirt and country music. When it comes to songwriting, Green said he usually visits the well when he’s thirsty, so to speak.
“Certainly, there are guys out there who feel like you’re not a musician unless you are writing music all day, every day. I’m the opposite,” he said, adding that he doesn’t do “anything in particular” to keep his creativity going.
“When I need to write music for an album, I’ll do it. If I don’t, I won’t,” he said. “I look at it like this: You don’t know you’re out of milk until you’re out of milk. I write when I need to — when I’m ready to make a record.”
Up next on Feb. 21 in WinStar’s Red Dirt music series: Josh Abbott Band.
8 p.m. today at the Global Event Center inside WinStar World Casino, 777 Casino Ave., Thackerville, Okla. Tickets cost $10-$25. Visit www.winstarworldcasino.com or call 1-800-662-6317.