This woeful, poignant tune was written by Jason Isbell as a tribute to a former schoolmate who was killed in the line of duty during the Iraq War. "I was coming off a tour with the [Drive By] Truckers, and I called my mom, and she told me about his funeral, which she'd attended that day," Isbell recalled. "When I got home, I wrote 'Dress Blues' in [the] time it takes to write it down on a piece of paper. I already had the chord progression from a song [I'd] been working on about Mickey Rooney, of all things. The song just fit that tune."
Isbell's original version
can be found on his 2007 Sirens of the Ditch