In the 2014 film Boyhood, there’s a great scene where Ethan Hawke’s character gives his son a painstakingly curated mix CD of post-breakup Beatles tunes that he dubs The Black Album. His explanation: “When you listen to too much of the solo stuff, it kind of becomes a drag, you know? But you put them next to each other, and they start to elevate each other. And then you can hear it. It’s The Beatles!”
Many of us have taken our own stabs at the perfect Black Album over the years, but the point is always the same. There is no favorite Beatle. The band was great because it consisted of four amazing musicians working together, each bringing their own style and personality to the table, with the result adding up to far more than the sum of its parts.
But The Beatles aren’t the only great band with an abundance of songwriting talent that has since been scattered to the winds. Case in point: Drive-By Truckers, one of the best rock bands, indie or otherwise, of the last two decades. Since their formation in 1996, each of the band’s first nine studio albums featured contributions from at least three songwriters — most notably co-founders Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley as well as Jason Isbell, Shonna Tucker, and Rob Malone.