“Surrender Under Protest”
Written by Mike Cooley
For the better part of the past decade, the popular music press has often hailed the Drive-By Truckers as America’s premier contemporary rock band, and their latest single, “Surrender Under Protest,” fully justifies that praise.
The track’s rousing chorus– which powerfully reappropriates a slogan from the “Lost Cause” movement– sounds like The Clash dropped into a skillet full of bacon grease, while the sweaty blues licks that drive the verses gift even greater heft to co-frontman Mike Cooley’s shrewd observations about the modern South. Inspired by the fallout of domestic terrorist Dylann Roof’s massacre at an African-American church in Charleston, Cooley laments that, “the victims and aggressors just remain each others’ others/And the instigators never fight their own,” with equal parts grief and regret for what has been lost.
Sadly, the past two weeks have proven this song’s central thesis about our nation’s racism to be irrefutably true, and those who most need to reflect upon its message never will.