By Joel Francis
The Kansas City Star
Pat Green may be a country singer from Texas, but his inspiration is a rock star from New Jersey.
“I’m trying to do what (Bruce) Springsteen did,” he said. “Jersey knew all about Springsteen before ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ came out and launched him.”
“Texas knows what I’m about. I can sell out as big of an arena as you want in Texas, but in Kansas City I’m playing a thousand-seater.”
Green will bring the music he describes as “if Springsteen and Willie Nelson had a kid” on Saturday to the Granada Theater in Lawrence. He’ll also be previewing his new album, “What I’m For,” which comes out Tuesday.
“When I get a new record out, I do like Springsteen and just make the shows longer. All the new stuff gets added to the old,” Green said. “You identify the bigger songs from that and throw them in the every-night pile.”
One new song he’s playing is “Country Star,” a country rewrite of Nickelback’s “Rock Star.” Green said he’s not sure if everyone will get the joke, and he’s fine with that.
“It’s a laughable notion to think of myself as a star,” he said. “Some of my guys know I’m kidding, that I’m not going to buy a shiny belt buckle and 10-gallon hat. But I like to write ambiguously, so that my songs can mean more than one thing to people. Others will laugh. Just picturing it is kind of funny.”
The flip side of that coin is “In It for the Money,” a soul-searching song about finding the right motivation.
“There is a quote by William Jennings I’m sure I’m going to butcher, but you have to do it for the right reasons. You have to care. This is not a dress rehearsal,” Green said. “Do you do it for love or do you do it for money?”
“What I’m For” also features a new arrangement of “Carry On,” a song Green has been carrying for more than a decade. The Police remake of their hit “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” inspired Green to take a different approach to his warhorse.
“That song is just part of my soul,” Green said. “Because I love it so much, I can move the furniture around without everyone getting upset with me. I never know how I’m going to play it in concert. Sometimes it’s just me and the guitar like a ballad. It’s been worn in every way you can wear it.”
Assisting Green for the first time is producer Dann Huff. The award-winning veteran has worked with artists as diverse as Bon Jovi, Megadeth and LeAnn Rimes.
“Keith Urban was mostly responsible for me hiring Dann Huff,” Green said. “I compared his work with Rascal Flatts and Faith Hill. Those albums sound completely different. They made me aware of Dan’s ability to wrap his hands around the individual artist and make the record toward them, rather than bending the artist to his vision.”
Pushing aside notions of trying to recapture the success of “Wave on Wave,” Green’s 2003 breakthrough hit, Green wrote an album that captured his life now as a father and family man.
“I’m not just going to sing anything to have a radio hit. I have to love it and believe it to sell it,” Green said. “I write about what I’m in tune with in this space, and that’s what Springsteen does, as well.”
Green, who happens to have his album coming out the same day as Springsteen’s “Working on a Dream,” has paid homage to the Boss by performing “Atlantic City” at his shows for years. For this tour he’s adding a new wrinkle.
“I think for this next tour I’m going to pull something off ‘The Rising’ for our encore,” Green said. “I have several songs in mind, but I don’t want to say what. If I go a different way, I won’t be caught lying.”