Misfits, Celebrated in Song

Chronicling the lives of misfits, the Drive-By Truckers dwell on despair, but never give in to it.


A bracing cross between Lynyrd Skynyrd and Flannery O’Connor, this quintet of self-described “big, loud Southern men” has produced a raw, riveting masterpiece. The Drive-By Truckers specialize in stark portraits of misfits who can’t get past their limitations but aren’t about to give up trying. It’s exhilarating to encounter the emotion of “Sink Hole,” a failed farmer’s tirade against the bank, or “Do It Yourself,” the angry response to a friend’s suicide, however grim the sentiments. Amid the turmoil, a healthy dose of wry black humor keeps despair at bay, just barely. Memorable lyric: “Rock ‘n’ roll means well / But it can’t help tellin’ young boys lies.”

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  • Jon Young is a contributing writer for Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here.