August 12, 2015 – LA Times interviewed Muscle Shoals, Alabama born Jason Isbell who has been regarded as a songwriter’s songwriter since gaining wide acclaim with Southern rock band the Drive-By Truckers. After he left the band in 2007, Isbell released three albums as a solo artist before his breakthrough in 2013 with “Southeastern.”
The South and the Confederate flag have been in the news of late. You, the Drive-By Truckers and Kacey Musgraves are often among those held up to stand for the South in some way. Is that an uncomfortable spot to be in, or are you happy to do it?
It’s not any more uncomfortable now than it was when I was 15 years old. I’ve always known that there are conflicting issues going on where I’m from. It’s always been that way. The interesting thing to me now is that the rest of the world is just starting to figure out the complexity that’s involved in being an open-minded person who grew up in the South.
For me, the things like the Confederate flag — I just don’t think that it does anybody much good, and it certainly causes a lot of people a lot of pain. I can understand how people want to affiliate with something … something to be proud of. But I think maybe affiliating with your family might fill that hole a little bit better than affiliating with a bunch of [Confederate] soldiers, most of whom died of diarrhea.