Pat Green is satisfied with life.
“I always feel like I’ve won the race,” says Green from his home in Fort Worth, Texas. “If I look back at my life, at being able to be a musician for the last 18 years, that’s a win!”
Green takes a moment to kiss his wife while she’s leaving the house before getting back to the interview.
Green grew up in Waco, Texas, where he absorbed the music and the culture.
He says Waylon Jennings’ “Luckenbach, Texas” is the first song he can remember hearing on the radio.
“Hearing Waylon and Willie’s voice, I remember that clearly, so it stands to reason that that had a tremendous effect. ... If you live in Seattle and make rock ’n’ roll, it’s gonna sound a certain way and if you live in New Orleans it’s going to sound a certain way. I think Texas has a certain cultural effect for sure.”
He would drive 8 to 10 hours to see shows at Gruene Hall in New Branfels or in Luckenbach and then turn around and go back home so that he wouldn’t miss school.
“I got to see Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Robert Earl Keen and Jerry Jeff Walker. ... Because of those trips and those places I became who I am.”
After graduating high school, he attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock and began performing around town.
In 1995, he recorded his first album, “Dancehall Dreamer,” and followed it two years later with the album “George’s Bar.” It was during that period that Green considered quitting the business. He went to work with his father, who was a fuel wholesaler. Feeling that he was making a mistake by not pursuing music, Green’s father fired him.
Not long afterward in 1998, Willie Nelson heard Green and invited him to play at the Willie Nelson July 4 Picnic.
The appearance gave Green a major profile boost. In 2001, he signed with Universal Records and released the album “Three Days.” That disc was led off with the song “Carry On,” which Green had immediately known was a keeper.
“I can honestly say when I wrote ‘Carry On,’ I thought, ‘Man, I’m gonna be playing this song forever,’” he says. “But every song that I play every night to this day, my signature songs, I can remember writing them.”
Green says that he can tell the difference in his songwriting and he’s glad it has changed.
“Where you live and the culture you live in, it has to affect the way you write. Then wives and kids and relationships that you’re in really define who you are and what your creative outlet is going to look like. ... Those people whose songwriting never changes, it must be dull to be them.”
His most recent project is a collection of other artists’ old favorites, “Songs We Wish We’d Written II,” a follow-up to an album Green recorded with Cory Morrow in 2001. The disc (again with Morrow) includes numbers by Lyle Lovett, Shelby Lynne, Tom Petty, Collective Soul and many others.
He says the number of songs he considered for the new album correlates with outside stimulus.
“It was probably as many songs as we had cold beer. That’s how you make one of those records. You sit down with a pitcher of beer and a pizza and a band and eventually you have a record! It was just like, ‘Does that sound cool?’ ‘OK, let’s do it!’”
Green immediately followed recording the album of covers by recording an album of new songs, which should arrive sometime later in the year.
While Green is happy in his music career, he’s branched out into other businesses. He’s a partner in a soon-to-open restaurant called The Rustic in Dallas.
“I was approached by a group of guys who are very well known around the state to help develop a music venue and a restaurant where the restaurant would not intrude on the music.
“It’s not like I hadn’t seen 3,000 venues!”
He says he likes a foot in both worlds, but he isn’t about to give up music.
“I have two kids and I’ve been married to my wife for 13 years, together for 17, and I just feel very fortunate to hit this part of my career while my kids are still young and I can be with them. I’m at a place where I can call all the shots.”
When: 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: Bijou Theatre
Tickets: $23, plus service charges, available at Knoxville Tickets outlets, 865-656-4444 and www.knoxvilletickets.com
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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