Dress Blues

Album: Jekyll + Hyde (2015)

Songfacts®:

  • 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 album.
  • Zac Brown Band covered the song for their Jekyll + Hyde album. Their version received its TV premiere on March 30, 2015, during the band's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
  • Zac Brown explained to Country Countdown USA's Lon Helton why they covered the tune. "Every record we do, we do one song we didn't write," he said. "This is that song. It was written by Jason Isbell, it was on a record he did 10 years ago, and it floored me. I just wanted to show the world this song, do it our way, and I arranged a version of 'Taps' in the middle of the song. I've been to military funerals, and when they played 'Taps,' it just killed me."

    "This song is about a young soldier who got blown up by an IED, and he's going home in his dress blues," Brown continued. "Just the way this song is written, how American it is, is incredible."
  • Alaska-born singer-songwriter Jewel contributed harmony vocals to the song.

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