Pat Green talks about the honor of his tribute album Dancehall Dreamin’: A Tribute to Pat Green.
Cowboys & Indians: You’ve recently been honored with a terrific album — Dancehall Dreamin’: A Tribute to Pat Green — that has many of your contemporaries recording some of your biggest hits. But, well, did you feel a little odd knowing you’d been around long enough for someone to produce this?
Pat Green: [Laughs.] Well, I don’t think anybody has ever had a tribute record put together that didn’t also at the same time feel old. So that’s exactly right — I don’t feel decrepit by any means, but, yeah, I know that I’ve been in the business for 25 years. And I mean, if you would have told me when I was 25 years old that I’d be in the business for 25 years, I would have told you, “You’re crazy.” So I’m a happy guy, and a lucky guy.
C&I: One of the most impressive things about this album is the way individual artists pay respect to your songs, but also bring their own unique spins to them. For example: Jack Ingram’s version of “Wave on Wave” acknowledges your version, but he does it a little slower. It’s more contemplative, if you will, whereas yours is more celebratory.
Pat: I can tell you how that worked. Justin Pollard produced most of this record, and he also co-wrote “Wave on Wave” with me. And to be completely frank, that is the way that we wrote “Wave on Wave” — much more of a downtempo song than a midtempo, as it turned out to be when I recorded it. So I have a feeling that Justin had a lot to do with that turning out the way it did.
C&I: How much input did you have for the album?
Pat: None. Zero. I didn’t even know they were doing it until they were halfway through it.
C&I: And now you feel you owe all these singers a favor?
Pat: [Laughs.] Yeah, I told my management, “Now I’ve got to do something for all these guys now.” Man, like, now I’ve got 10 tribute albums I’ve got to do.
C&I: On the subject of Dancehall Dreamin’ — what do you think defines a great dance hall?
Pat: Well, I mean age and culture are things that dance pretty well together. And you also have to consider the way a place smells and how it feels, because you’ve been in there so many times. But it’s not just judging it as a performer. It’s also based on the times you’ve watched other people perform in there.
C&I: Fair enough. But if we asked you to take us on a tour of, say, three representative Texas dance halls, where would you take us?
Pat: Well, obviously, I got married in Luckenbach, so that’s always going to be my favorite. And then Jerry Jeff Walker had a live album there called ¡Viva Terlingua! that was a game changer for the Texas music world. Gruene Hall would be No. 2 — it’s where George Strait got his start. Oldest dance hall in the state of Texas. Arguably one of the coolest scenes you could ever be a part of. And then third, I think you’d have to go straight to Billy Bob’s [Texas] up in Fort Worth, where I live, which is the granddaddy, if you will. It’s the biggest one that we’ve got. It holds 6,000 people, and I mean, yeah, it’s an ocean of redneck, and it’s fun to be around. There’s a lot of energy in a place like that.
C&I: Aside from your music, you have a lot of other things going on in your life. For example, this year, you and your wife opened an art gallery in Fort Worth.
Pat: Yeah, I’ve played in real estate, and oil and gas, and we own a few restaurants, and the [Galleywinter Gallery] art gallery. And my wife is brilliant — she makes a lot of fashion jewelry as well as purses, and things like that [as Kori Green Designs]. So we’re just busybodies.
C&I: Sounds like you’re making sure that if the music thing dries up, you’ll have other means of making a living.
Pat: Hey, I know that the public is fickle, and the music business in general is fickle. So I try to have different sources of revenue, just because you never know when this pond’s going to go dry.
MAKING MUSIC: Pat Green readily admits he is more focused on releasing singles than recording albums these days. “Unless you’re on a major record label, and they’ve got all the money in the world to put behind you, putting out 10 songs at a time is kind of past its usefulness. I think, even if you put out a record of 10 songs, people fall in love with two or three songs. And they buy those two or three songs, and then they don’t ever listen to the rest of the album. So, yeah, I think those days have peaked and passed.”
From the November/December 2018 issue. illustration: Jonathan Fehr