“Wave on Wave” Came Out of a Walmart Parking Lot

A Look Inside Dancehall Dreamin': A Tribute to Pat Green

Something was wrong with the bus. That’s what Pat Green told me he remembered about the night he wrote his 2003 hit “Wave on Wave.”

“I remember that we were pulled over in a Walmart parking lot in Birmingham, Ala. I remember that it was 4:00 in the morning, and I was up late just doing what musicians do at that age. And I had this idea. It was pestering me and pestering me, and it wouldn’t let me sleep,” Green said. “I wrote the chorus first; then I went up to the front of the bus to see who was awake. It was just my drummer and keyboard player. They were the only ones still up. I said, ’You boys wanna help me finish our first hit?'”

“That one I knew. I was really certain about that one.”

And now, that Grammy-nominated song is one of 10 tunes on a new tribute album — Dancehall Dreamin’: A Tribute to Pat Green — full of everyone’s favorite Green songs, performed by some of Texas’ favorite troubadours.

After Green took me back to the night he wrote “Wave on Wave,” he told me what it felt like now, 15 years later, to hear Jack Ingram covering it.

“I was such a huge fan of Jack’s, long before I ever even recorded one song; before I ever even wrote one,” he said. “So to have him record my biggest one, and do it the way he wanted to — a little slower and a little more vibey — just makes it even cooler. That was a fun thing for me to listen to. I got a little weepy.”

The timing of the tribute album seems just right. It’s not too soon, and it’s not too late. But Green is too modest to agree. After 23 years of making music, he says he doesn’t feel worthy of this.

“I’m just extremely flattered that they would all think I’m deserving of this,” he shared. And in a press release, he added that he had no idea this project was in the works until it was almost finished.

“I didn’t see this coming at all. I didn’t know that my friends would all get together and record my songs, but I feel nothing but gratitude towards all of them. Not just the singers and the songwriters that came out and sang, but the musicians — the drummers, the guitar players, the violin players, the piano players, the bass players.

“I’ve been a musician forever,” he said, “but I didn’t see this one coming.”

Other highlights on the album include Josh Abbott Band’s “Take Me Out to a Dancehall,” Aaron Watson’s “Crazy,” Randy Rogers Band and Radney Foster’s “Three Days,” along with Green’s own take on the stories behind the songs.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.
@alisonbonaguro