Drive-By Truckers' Patterson Hood Defends Athens, GA With 'After It's Gone'
Hood rails against hometown land development with new collaborative single.
With the release of a new single titled "After It's Gone," Drive-By Truckers founding member and Athens, Georgia resident Patterson Hood -- alongside a collective known as the Downtown 13 -- is standing up for his city.
What exactly is he fighting against? What Hood and his musical cohorts feel is an affront to Athens' beauty and musical heritage in the form of a proposed building of an 8.3 acre mixed-use development, anchored by a 94,000 square-foot Walmart.
Video: Patterson Hood and the Downtown 13, "After It's Gone"
Athens, home of the University of Georgia, has long been a hotbed for the development of national musical acts, several of which appear on the song and its accompanying video (above), among them members of the Truckers, R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, Widespread Panic's John Bell and Todd Nance, Lera Lynn, and members of Futurebirds, Hope For Agoldensummer, Justified True Belief, and the Quick Hooks. The group came together on the track to express their opposition to the proposed development by Atlanta-based Selig Enterprises. The back wall of the anchor tenant, Walmart, would be within stone's throw of Hood's home and would tower over the greenway trail along the Oconee River.
"There has been tons of exaggerated and misleading information coming from the developer -- as well as some well-intentioned groups opposed to it -- and I am working with a group that is devoted to getting factual, vetted and backed-up information out to the public so that an informed and educated debate can occur," Hood tells Billboard.com. "The developer is trying to say this is a 'done deal,' but as I write this, they haven't closed on the land, turned in the traffic study, gotten approval on the changing of traffic flow from our current city plan, or submitted any plans to our city's planning department. Athens can not afford to sit idly by while a savvy developer makes a mess of a key development site with no regard for long-term effects on the economic and transportation core of our city."
Hood wrote "After It's Gone" three weeks ago as "a love song to [his] beloved Athens Georgia and its vibrant downtown... and legendary arts and music scene," he says, adding that he recorded the song "in the hopes of drawing attention to [the Protect Downtown] website and to foster a positive dialog on what direction our town should go."
"The song was recorded during sound check at the legendary 40 Watt Club in downtown Athens during DBT's annual Athens Nuci's Space Homecoming Weekend three days after I wrote it," he says. "Then David Barbe and Chase Park Transduction studios donated the time for a wide assortment of Athens musicians to come in and participate on it."
Fans can download the song, view the video (above; directed by Jason Thrasher), and read about Protect Downtown Athens at the organization's website. Video of an impromptu performance of the song by Hood and other musicians was shot yesterday (Feb. 1) in a "total guerilla operation" on the roof of the downtown Wuxtry Records. In true rock'n'roll (and DBT) style, Hood broke a string on the first chord.
"The song is a very heartfelt statement of love for a town and a scene that has given me so much," Hood says. "The recording was a blast, bringing so many different types of artists together one afternoon for a common cause."