Pat Green Talks New Album & Taking a Break From Songwriting: 'I'm Having the Best Year of My Life'
Pat Green -- long one of the most respected singer-songwriters around -- returns with Home, his first project since 2012’s Songs We Wish We'd Written II on August 14. Green took some time to talk to Billboard recently to discuss the album -- and talk about happiness, Texas women and where he’s been.
Are you ready for the album to come out?
This has been a long time coming. I’m ready for this to come out. I’ve just been waiting for the right time. That’s a hard thing for me to do. I’m like the little kid who has to open the packages on Christmas Eve when everybody went to sleep.
Why the longer-than-usual absence?
I took two years off without writing a word. I was so burned out because the record label I was with wanted an album a year, which was pretty standard. That just was a lot for me. If I get a good idea to write, I’ll stop the world, but it has to be that. I just don’t sit down and write everyday as an exercise. I started writing about a year and a half after the last record. I wrote what I wanted to write, and found some other songs to fill in the cracks. I left the label and my management and restarted things. That took a year and a half, but now we’re ready to go.
In listening to Home, there seems to be a feeling of contentment.
I’m having the best year of my life. I’m exactly in the place that I want to be. I am very satisfied. I’ve done some good work, and worked hard. My wife and I are happy. The kids are happy. If I get struck by a train or sucked up by a twister -- God forbid -- I went out on an up tick.
The first single from the album, “While I Was Away,” is breathtakingly poignant. The lyrics -- about a man missing his family -- seem so perfect for you. Yet you didn’t write it.
That’s a Zane Williams song. He’s truly a poet. I was driving down the road and popped in his CD -- which I hadn’t heard yet. I look down, and there were chill bumps on my legs and my arms. Then I feel these tears filling up my eyes. I was really having an emotional response to it, and I looked over at my wife, and she’s crying buckets. I thought, "This is a real song. It speaks the truth." I called Zane and begged him not to put it out. It took a lot of begging, but at the end of the day, I’m going to have to buy him a Cadillac or something... a steak dinner for sure.
As a songwriter yourself, what was it that spoke to you about Williams’ approach?
I’m a pretty serious guy when it comes to songwriting. There’s a lot of stuff that I just don’t get into because it’s so flippant. I know when I’m writing that song too -- I’m not disparaging that method. I can tell when someone is writing something light hearted, but also when they are trying to write something serious. This is a very serious song -- as far as subject matter. He did a really great job in capturing every specific angle of that emotion.
One of the standout cuts on the album is “Girls From Texas.” How well does that song work in other locations besides the Lone Star State?
Fortunately, it does mention a lot of states. In the places that it doesn’t mention, I will be apologetic. But most of the time, I’m playing in a state that the song does mention, and I can change the words so they don’t come at me. But really, it’s a homage to California girls. I’m not trying to put anyone down. I’m not like that. This is a much more uplifting song.
Obviously, between “Wave on Wave,” “Feels Just Like It Should” and “Let Me,” you’re no stranger to success on the radio. Is that something that you think about when you’re recording new material?
I don’t know that I think about anything specifically when I’m making a record. I am an “in the moment” person. The only way I know to maintain my happiness is to try to not ever move off of where I am. If someone asks me what my favorite song is, I will say it’s my next one. I love all of these songs on the record. It’s my baby right now, but the next song I write -- I will be jazzed when I hear myself sing it.