Seven days before Pat Green's latest studio album, What I'm For, debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, his 2003 hit "Wave On Wave" completed its last round of presidential duty. As the folks of Midland, Texas, welcomed home George W. Bush on Jan. 20, Green's voice rang out over the rally via the song that Bush had unofficially adopted years prior as his "walk-off" music.
The 36-year-old Texas native says "Wave On Wave" caught Bush's attention early in his presidential campaigning. Green's father was a big Republican he even ran for Congress a couple of times and Green played a few stops for the would-be president. He says he didn't campaign for Bush the second time around because he didn't want to alienate people who were trying to get into his music. Bush, however, kept using his song.
"What was I gonna do? Call the president and say, 'Hey man, I've never had a No. 1, but I've got a big ol' pile of No. 2 records; I'd sure appreciate it if you wouldn't play my song'? I just don't have that much pull.
"Agree or disagree with him," Green says, "it's an honor for any American to have an American president use your material."
Unless, of course, you're Bruce Springsteen, he adds, laughing.
"It wasn't an honor for Springsteen when old Ronald Reagan used 'Born in the U.S.A.,' but old Springsteen is a little bit you know, he's an extremist. I'm a huge fan of Springsteen's music, but I cannot stand anybody who goes so far out to the far right, or so far out to the far left, that they can't see that there are tremendous qualities in both sides that are worth exploring."
What I'm For, Green's 11th album, finds him exploring a broad range of subjects, from hitting rock bottom ("In the Middle of the Night") to falling in love ("Let Me"), with a detour to the tongue-firmly-in-cheek "Country Star," a play on Nickelback's "Rock Star."
"All celebrities need to be made fun of at every convenience," says Green, who came to the industry's attention after a well-received appearance at a Willie Nelson 4th of July picnic. "We're a rotten lot, and we're ridiculous on the side. So you know, to me it's just a natural subject matter."
Green co-wrote the majority of the songs on What I'm For, and also penned one on his own. "In this World," featuring Green's voice and guitar, brings a lighter, folky, less crossover-country sound to the album. Even though Green says he's received many compliments on "In This World," he doesn't often write by himself because he thinks his writing is "all over the map."
"If you really listen to that song, it doesn't make a lot of sense," Green says. "It's these two little vignettes about a sister and a brother who are having a hard time settling down. And then this diatribe about money. And then another little vignette about my guitar."
He's just started performing it live, though, and concertgoers can likely expect it when he's in Colorado Springs. That, and just an entertaining evening of his hits.
"I don't get real preachy, 'cause when I'm drinking beer I don't want people preaching at me, either," Green says. "So you know, I keep it simple."