Music -- all kinds of music -- has been a part of Green’s life from his beginning growing up in a blended family with nine children in Waco, Texas.
“I grew up around so many kids – I had five sisters and four brothers. It was a real Yours, Mine and Ours situation and growing up around all those kids, there was so much going on and so many distractions and so many sources of feeding my younger self with music. People always ask you what are your influences, and I’ll give them some answer, but the truth is that my influences were everything from some really crappy Eighties music to the best of Motown to a little classical music. Hopefully, I’ll be able to give my own children something like that to grow up on – that incredible range of music. For instance, the first album by Terence Trent D’Arby made a huge impact on me. And from that point, I would listen to records so meticulously – to the point that I would know all the burps, and farts and bits so well of every performance musically and especially vocally of all the songs that I liked.
Country music -- specifically some of the great Texas writers -- didn’t really connect with Green until a little later. “After my senior year in high school – the summer before my freshman year at Texas Tech, I had a female friend who was listening to Robert Earl Keen and I thought his songs were so incredible,” Green recalls. “The stories were great, and the music was so much deeper than the crap on the radio, they just painted a better picture with deeper colors. Robert’s music turned me on to Jerry Jeff Walker and that led me to go further back. Sure, I had already heard of Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, but now I explored it all. I fell in love with country music and the way it can be a great way of heartland storytelling – and so far from the plastic world it could be at the time, and sometimes still is. That’s a battle I’ll always have to fight and I don’t always win the battle, but if you’re trying to make a living at this, that’s the river you have to negotiate.”
With the important early support of Nelson, Walker and Keen, among others, Green began to make a real name for himself as a live act with a growing fan base regionally. “Guys like Willie and Jerry Jeff and Robert Earl were letting me open their shows which was amazing. Of course, there were plenty of other times that I had to call the bar and beg for that opening gig or call the frat. It didn’t matter how I got the gig -- the important thing was to get the gig and get in front of someone else’s crowd until I began to build up my own. I owe them all a debt of gratitude not just for the platform, but also for their attitude and their example. They all had their impact without selling their souls. I was always willing to sell part of my soul, but I’ve always wanted to be in charge of what part was for sale.”
So rather than leave home and try and squeeze into the Nashville system right away, Green was able to find an audience as he began to grow as a singer-songwriter on early self-released albums like 1995’s Dance Hall Dreamer and 1997’s George’s Bar. “I was happy in Austin, in love with my girlfriend who’s now my wife, making a living, making the music I love,” Green remembers. “So going to Nashville to try and become a `star’ did not seem very appealing, especially since it might mean actually making less money and getting frustrated and leaving the greatest place on the planet. So I just rejected it. We were selling a lot of records our own way – a Houston based company sold my records for me – and there still were record stores then.”
Eventually, Green found a limit to such independence. “I kept running into a wall,” he recalls. “I’d go play to 1000 people in say Atlanta, but a block away the store would not have my records. That was finally what tipped things for me -- I thought I needed to get a national company that could get my music out in front of me. It wasn’t really the money. I just wanted the impact of people having my music in their possession, so they could study my quirks and kinks just like I did the people who inspired me early on. I wanted to become part of the roots system instead of just part of the scenery. So that’s when I signed my first big record deal. We started getting lots of distribution. Then all of a sudden we had a monster hit with “Wave On Wave” and then Nashville kind of perked up and said, “Okay, we’ll take you just the way you are.”
What I’m For is the sound of Pat Green, just the way he is today, walking in footsteps of his own making, with respect for the past but his eyes very much on the future.