Singing sensation Pat Green on music, family, and the great state of Texas
H Texas sat down with traveling crooner, Pat Green, the same day his eleventh album, “What I’m For” was released. His excitement overshadowed his exhaustion. He’d been touring for weeks promoting this album and was finally home in Fort Worth. The country star allowed this interview under one condition—he could take a time out when his two-year-old daughter and five-year-old son wanted Daddy to play.
A Texan through and through, Green was born in San Antonio and grew up in Waco. He graduated college from Texas Tech, moved to Austin, and now lives in Fort Worth.
One of nine siblings in a blended family, he remembers a “buffet of music” echoing throughout his childhood home. The family listened to everything from Motown to Mozart. He had heard Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, but he did not fall in love with country music until a friend urged him to listen to Robert Earl Keen. That was just before Green headed to Texas Tech. “I thought his songs were incredible; the stories were great and the music was so deep.” He was soon turned on to Jerry Jeff Walker and was inspired by the way these men used their music as a way of heartland storytelling.
Throughout college Green performed on any stage he could find. “Every Friday night I’d try to get a gig at Bash Rip Rock, County Line BBQ, or Depot Beer Garden,” he recalls. With money borrowed from his parents, 18 year-old Green recorded songs he had written and released a series of independently produced albums, including “Dancehall Dreamer” and “George’s Bar.” He had a day job working for his stepfather’s wholesale fuel business, but it was clear Green’s passion was elsewhere. “One day my stepdad called me into his office and let me go,” Green says. “He knew how much I loved music, and he wanted me to go for it. That’s when I made the total commitment to my dream; it’s music all the way.”
Green’s warm, rugged voice and charismatic connection with audiences earned him a rapidly growing fan base. He soon had the support of the same people who inspired him to sing country music. “Guys like Willie, Jerry Jeff, and Robert Earl were letting me open their shows which was amazing! I owe them all a debt of gratitude—not just for the platform, but also for their attitude and example.”
Green’s album, “Live at Billy Bob’s Texas,” was recorded during a performance at Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Family Picnic. Soon after its release, Green was headlining his own shows and performing in front of sold-out crowds. His next album, “Songs We Wish We’d Written” was recorded in 2001 and within five years, Green sold 250,000 tapes, records, and CDs—an unheard of figure without backing from a major label.
“Going to Nashville and trying to become a star didn’t seem very appealing,” Green says. He believes Texas is the greatest place on the planet, so he avoided the frustrations of the Tennessee music business and found an audience here. While living in Austin, Green married his girlfriend Kori and earned a decent living doing what he loved—playing music. Though he was happy, there remained a large void in his music business. “I’d go to some towns and play for 1,000 people, but the local stores wouldn’t have my records,” he remembers. “I needed a national company to put my music out so people could study my quirks and kinks just like I studied the people who inspired me.”
When Republic Records came knocking, Green opened the door, signed a contract, and released “Three Days.” His next album, “Wave on Wave” was a hit, and the single of the same name rose to number three on the charts. “That was the album that really made a difference,” he says. “It really got the ball rolling toward radio success and national recognition.” The record catapulted him to stardom. He was suddenly in the same ranks as Keith Urban, Gretchen Wilson, and Kenny Chesney; “Wave on Wave” won three Grammy nominations.
Green wrote eight of the ten songs on his new album, “What I’m For.” To him, this album is a “coming of age” vehicle. Looking back on the songs he wrote early in his career, he thinks they were good, but with the new ones, he feels like he has come into his own. “They’re written by a man, by a father, by a guy that kind of has a handle on the situation.” As far as Pat Green is concerned, this is the best album he has ever done. The critics say he is right; his single “Let Me” is already number 13 on the charts. His favorite song, “Footsteps of Our Fathers,” was written with his friend, Brett James; “it’s the best song I’ve ever been a part of writing.” This song is his legacy, his story to his children.
Green released his first book, “Pat Green’s Dance Halls &Dreamers,” last year. The coffee table book is a look at Texas’ legendary music venues and the musicians who made them great. Each chapter documents a venue’s history, atmosphere, and individual charm. Green shares memories of each venue and gives readers a glimpse into his favorite, Gruene Hall. Billy Bob’s Texas, Stubb’s BBQ in Austin, and Luckenbach (where Green was married) are also highlighted. Interviews with honky-tonk heroes like Ray Wylie Hubbard, Kevin Fowler and Jack Ingram add flavor to the book. “I love those old dance halls,” Green says. They’re where life slows down and people seem to have a better sense of reality. I see those great old hardwood floors and know that’s where a lot of our granddaddies walked. I love it!”
Despite performing for large crowds year-round, there is still one show that gives Green butterflies. “The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo still scares me to death, but I look forward to it,” he says. “I’ll never forget the first time I performed there … about ten minutes before I went on, Kori told me we were pregnant with our first baby. I swear I don’t remember that performance at all—I have no idea how I made it through.”
Pat Green believes in the American dream. He aspires to continue to grow and, “be involved in the everlasting chase to be bigger than I am, to be better than I am.” Though much of his life is spent traveling and playing his music, he has never lost his contagious enthusiasm for life or excitement for each new performance and audience. His music pays homage to those who have cleared the path and made him the man he is today.
From Footsteps of Our Fathers:
We are walking in the footsteps of our fathers
Standing in the shadows of our mothers
Standing in the shadows of our mothers
Trying to learn from those who came before us
I see the roadmaps and lines upon their face …