BR: To me, Go-Go Boots combines that sludge with a whole lot of soul. That soul was in your bones anyway, but did the time the Truckers spent with Booker T recording Potato Hole and touring affect the sound of this album?

PH: It absolutely did. Actually, Go-Go Boots and The Big To-Do were both influenced by that experience. During the time we worked with Booker, I learned so much – not only about music, but about us.

We only spent four days in the studio recording his Potato Hole album, but those four days were like taking a doctorate course in music composition and playing music all at one time. We’d never met Booker prior to making that record – the first day of recording was when we met him. We came in cold with just four days to make an album.

BR: Oh, man.

PH: Oh, yeah. (laughs) The first day we never did a single cut – didn’t get a single keeper take. On the second day, I think we got one. By the third day, I think we had another song done and were working on a third, but Booker just wasn’t liking what we were doing … we were playing it correctly, but we weren’t playing it right.

Booker stopped everything, gathered us all in a corner, and told us a story – the story that inspired the song that we weren’t getting. “Don’t think about the music,” he said. “Think about the story.”

He created the scene for us – this vivid scene of, like, a Thanksgiving dinner or a family reunion – when you haven’t seen your family in a long time … there’s all these cousins and uncles and aunts and everybody that you haven’t seen, okay? They’re all there and there’s all this food laid out and it smells so good … Booker was describing the smell; he was describing the tablecloth. He had everything right to the T. And at the end of the telling us that story, he said, “Now don’t think about the song – think about what I was telling you. And just play.”

And we got it in one take.

BR: Oh, cool.

PH: From then on, for the rest of the record, Booker would tell us the story that had inspired him to write each song, and then we’d play the song. The 10 cuts on that album were essentially recorded in a day and a half – and that’s the way we did it.

Booker figured us out in his head – even though he barely knew us: “These guys’ songs are built around the lyrics and the way they play is built around that imagery. Having these instrumentals without lyrics is fucking them up, so I need to provide them with the imagery. Then they’ll be able to play the songs right.”

He figured that out – and he was exactly right, of course. And that whole experience taught us something – I’d never thought about it that way before. It was always I’d write a song; we’d learn to play it; we’d record it and move on. I never really conceptualized the process before – but Booker having us do that was like having a light come on in all of our heads. He taught us something about ourselves.

That approach really helped us with this project – it revolutionized the way we do things, honestly. So The Big To-Do and Go-Go Boots were the first things we did after recording Potato Hole and our whole technique kind of morphed because of what Booker taught us.

BR: There’s a feel to this album that I can’t come up with a better description of than “country soul.” I’m stuck on that.

PH: That’s probably the best thing to call it. That’s what I’ve been calling it – and that’s after years and years of trying not to call our music anything but rock ‘n’ roll. But I think Go-Go Boots is our “country soul” record, you know? I mean, that’s the way to describe that Muscle Shoals sound – white country boys playing the music on those great black soul records. Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack … Bobby Womack in particular could be called country soul – he even made a country record once upon a time, a really great country record. And then, of course, there are people like Tony Joe White and Dan Penn …

BR: And, of course, Eddie Hinton, who you cover twice on this album with “Where’s Eddie” and “Everybody Needs Love”.

PH: Oh man … we make a point to talk about him at just about every show, you know? For a while now, we’ve been playing Eddie’s music over the PA before and after our sets. I try to make a point out of letting people know, “If you like that music that was playing before we came out, at least half of it was Eddie Hinton.”

It’s well worth seeking out – all his records were so amazing. His music has been such an important part of our band – if nothing else, just the amount that we listen to it. Eddie’s music is something that we all agree about no matter what kind of mood anybody’s in. Put that on aboard the bus and everyone is happy with it – that’s saying a lot with our crowd. (laughter) We all respect each other’s tastes, but it definitely goes in a lot of different directions.

I imagine that I like everything Cooley likes for music, but he probably likes about 10 percent of what I like. (laughter) I like a lot of different stuff, where he likes about five bands. (laughter)

BR: Well, this feel almost sacrilegious to say to you…

PH: (laughs) Yeah?

BR: But of all the fine, fine original tunes the Truckers have recorded, the cover of Eddie Hinton’s “Everybody Needs Love” on Go-Go Boots is the song that the whole world ought to be holding hands and singing together, man – it’s a great piece of work.

PH: Oh, listen: I feel exactly the same way. Not counting The Fine Print, which was different – that was a collection of oddities and outtakes and all that – we’ve never put a cover song on one of our albums. But I just felt so strongly about that song – it just made sense, you know?

For me, it’s Eddie’s songs and where they came from. I remember Eddie Hinton being at my house when I was four years old. He was always sort of right there in the shadows during my time of growing up.

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