Interview: Pat Green Embarrassed, But Flattered By ‘Dancehall Dreamin” Tribute Album
Music industry veteran and Texas country pioneer Pat Green has the kind of big, booming presence that fills up a room. He's toured with Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney and the Dave Matthews Band, and can grab a crowd's attention alongside some of country's most legendary entertainers. However, when The Boot sat down with him to discuss the new tribute album, Dancehall Dreamin': A Tribute to Pat Green, dedicated to honoring his greatest hits, Green looked a little -- well, self-conscious.
"I mean, it's a bit embarrassing," he says sheepishly. "Not that it's unsettling or upsetting, but, for one thing, I didn't know I was old enough to have a tribute album. But I'm very flattered that people I consider peers would put their name right next to mine. That made me feel very good."
Featuring contributions from Texan artists such as Aaron Watson, the Randy Rogers Band, Radney Foster and many others, the tribute focuses on Green's legacy as one of the state's iconic country trailblazers. Green is known for the particular brand of country that hails from the Lone Star State, with its old-school roots and straight-talking, "what you see is what you get" attitude.
"I think it's the same thing that anybody would say about what they do if they're being really honest and genuine about the music they're making," Green says, when asked to define the "Texas country" approach. "You can take it or leave it. We love y'all anyway.
"I think culture makes music, first of all," he continues. "Culture defines people. The way that culture defines the people in a certain place, it also defines the music that they make. New Orleans defines jazz, in our country. Memphis defines the blues. Texas, as a group, defines our kind of country music."
Texas country traditions may be sacred, but within the subgenre, Green loves that all the artists performing on Dancehall Dreamin' have put their own spin on his songs: "I love it when people feel that they have the freedom to go off script," he explains. "It means that they either have enough faith in their own ability, or that they have enough of a relationship with the person that they're [covering] that they feel free to do that. On this album, I think both of those were the case in most instances, and that's beautiful."
Green feels that same freedom when he's covering songs by artists such as Tom Petty, or Willie Nelson: "I have such a love for their music that I feel very free to change the arrangement and make it mine," he says. "Their musical styles really speak to me."
There is one artist, however, whose songs he always covers straight, with few of his own embellishments: Bruce Springsteen.
"We do a song called "My Hometown" by Springsteen, and, man, don't touch that," Green says with a laugh. "The Boss is sacred to me."
While Green may feel a bit awkward about being the subject of a tribute album, he loves the idea of the format, and he wouldn't say no to the idea of appearing on one as a contributing artist some day. So who would the Texas country pioneer choose to pay tribute to, out of all the country legends he's gotten to know over the course of his career?
"Well, I would love to do something for old Wilbur -- old Willie [Nelson]!" Green responds, his eyes sparkling, his voice rising back up to its usual crowd-commanding boom. "Who wouldn't want to be a part of something like that? It would be the feel-good record of the century."