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Where the Devil Don't Stay

Where the Devil Don't Stay
Traveling the South with the Drive-By Truckers

In the first full-length book on the Drive-By Truckers, Deusner examines the southern spaces that shaped the band’s ideas of what music can say and do while also discovering how their music shifted the way we view the modern South.

Series: American Music Series

September 2021
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296 pages | 6 x 9 |

In 1996, Patterson Hood recruited friends and fellow musicians in Athens, Georgia, to form his dream band: a group with no set lineup that specialized in rowdy rock and roll. The Drive-By Truckers, as they named themselves, grew into one of the best and most consequential rock bands of the twenty-first century, a great live act whose songs deliver the truth and nuance rarely bestowed on Southerners, so often reduced to stereotypes.

Where the Devil Don’t Stay tells the band’s unlikely story not chronologically but geographically. Seeing the Truckers’ albums as roadmaps through a landscape that is half-real, half-imagined, their fellow Southerner Stephen Deusner travels to the places the band’s members have lived in and written about. Tracking the band from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia, to the author’s hometown in McNairy County, Tennessee, Deusner explores the Truckers’ complex relationship to the South and the issues of class, race, history, and religion that run through their music. Drawing on new interviews with past and present band members, including Jason Isbell, Where the Devil Don’t Stay is more than the story of a great American band; it’s a reflection on the power of music and how it can frame and shape a larger culture.

  • Introduction
  • The Shoals
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Athens, Georgia
  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Outside Gillsburg, Mississippi
  • Back to the Shoals
  • Richmond, Virginia
  • McNairy County, Tennessee
  • Out West
  • Acknowledgments
  • Selected Discography
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index

Stephen Deusner is a freelance music journalist whose work appears in Pitchfork, Uncut, Stereogum, No Depression, and the Bluegrass Situation, among other publications. He has contributed longform liner notes to recent reissues by Pylon and the Glands.


“The rare writer who understands the totality of the Southern experience, Stephen Deusner has created a masterwork. Exploring the forces that have shaped the music of the Drive-By Truckers, this book stands as a definitive band biography and insightful regional history, as well as an exploration and deconstruction of our most powerful American myths. ”
Bob Mehr, author of the New York Times bestseller Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements

“Deusner’s multilayered book is so much more than a musical biography. His deeply researched dive into the Drive-By Truckers’ lengthy career encompasses the perseverance of America’s indie musicians while providing a thoughtful, evocative look at the group’s Southern roots, which imbue their artistry with its singularity. The excellent analysis of DBTs’ songcraft complements the rich storytelling, filled with unforgettable characters populating those songs – and the Truckers’ lives.”
Holly George-Warren, author of A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton and Janis: Her Life and Music

“Some of the happiest nights of my life have been spent — drunk, but fortunately not dead or naked — at Drive-By Truckers shows. In Where The Devil Don't Stay, Stephen Deusner puts this magnificent band in its proper context as a cultural, political, and above all rock 'n' roll force of nature. I wish it were possible to turn a book up to 11, because this one deserves to be blasted at full volume.”
Steven Hyden, author of Twilight of the Gods and This Isn't Happening: Radiohead's Kid A and the Beginning of the 21st Century