JEFF SESSIONS WEEK presents “The Jeff Sessions,” an EP by the Attorney General

Music in the “Wilco, but racist” tradition

  1. Be Careful What You Say to White People, Boy
  2. The NAACP is Un-American
  3. A Traitor to His Race (Low Down Like a Dog)
  4. The KKK is A-OK (Except for When They Smoke Marijuana)
  5. Free Fallin’ [Tom Petty Cover]

The Jeff Sessions started as a conversation at a Tuscaloosa fundraiser for Sessions’ 2008 senatorial re-election campaign. Music producer Jeff “Buck” Colt recalls the senator cornering him during gala and asking him if he would be willing to produce an album of songs for campaign purposes: “Yeah, it was weird because he was so far ahead in the polls that I didn’t know why he thought he needed music for his campaign. I think he just really wanted an excuse to go into a recording studio.”

Colt recalls that Sessions had a particularly idiosyncratic vision for the album: “He wanted a bunch of old Confederate marches and Southern folk songs with him reading speeches and sort of shouting about the ‘moral responsibilities of a proper society’ over the top. That didn’t sound like a good idea to me so I managed to convince him that we should go more in a Wilco direction. But, you know, like super racist. He liked that.”

With Sessions on board with the “Wilco but racist” vision, Colt began assembling musicians, culled largely from the touring bands for Kid Rock and a number of county-fair-level southern rock groups. But the Sessions sessions were far from smooth.

Keyboardist Jeff “Budgie” Amberson recalls one incident in particular: “Buck brought in a Jewish fella to play drums and Sessions flipped out. Now I am pretty racist, but I’ve never seen anything like that. It made us all a little uncomfortable, which is saying something.”

Slide guitarist Jeff “Boner” Williams provides some further details: “After the outburst, I swear to god I heard him mumbling something to himself in a weird language like Latin or something. He caught me staring at him and looked me dead in the eyes — my heart went cold! Then he just looked around the room and shouted, ‘No Catholics either!’”

Amberson provides some clarification: “It was Hattic. He was always speaking Hattic, or at least that’s what he said it was. I didn’t even know what the fuck Hattic was. Later I looked it up and apparently it’s some dead language from Egypt or something. [long pause] Weird, weird guy.”

According to Colt, the sessions remained tense throughout, “I always sort of played up the whole racism thing to sell records but this guy was serious. In between takes, he’d always talk about cross burnings. He fucking loved cross burnings. He’d even add lyrics about them into the cover songs we tried. You’ve never heard a stranger version of ‘Power of Love’ than one with a whole additional verse about burning crosses and the glory of the white race. Weirdly, he didn’t change a thing about ‘Free Fallin’. He said it was sacred. That’s why it’s the one cover song that ended up on the album.”

Williams recalls another tense moment when Sessions got into a shouting match with the album’s producer: “He was yelling at Buck, I don’t even know what about. But it was super weird to see because Buck is a big dude, over 6 feet, probably 250, and Sessions is this little, elf-lookin’ guy. But he was just screaming and flipping tables and stuff. I don’t even know what it was about.”

According to Colt, the argument was related to Sessions’ singing. “He just kept singing everything in the tune of ‘Dixie’ and when I told him he couldn’t do that, he just lost it. Y’know, I’ve worked with a lot of the worst of the worst rock stars in terms of behavior — Axl Rose, Ozzy Osbourne, Michael Stipe — but I ain’t never seen anything like this little dude.”

Somehow, they managed to cobble together enough listenable songs for an EP. It consisted of four original songs, with lyrics by Sessions, and the aforementioned Tom Petty cover.

When it came time to pick an album title, Sessions wanted to name it The Birth of a Nation, after D.W. Griffith’s famed pro-KKK film from 1915. Colt instead suggested The Jeff Sessions. According to Colt, he “tried to explain to the senator that it was, like, a play on words. Because he’s named Jeff Sessions, and these were recording sessions. He didn’t seem to get it.”

Ultimately, Sessions’s chief of staff opted against releasing the album. Colt says, “He called it ‘too racist, even for Alabama,’ which I didn’t even know was a thing. But he was right, it was way more racist than I had even expected. I was actually pretty relieved that they didn’t put it out. I worried it would have been a career killer for me.”

Sessions won in a landslide anyway, and the EP remained unreleased until now. But bassist Jeff “Colt” Buck says the whole experience changed him: “Man, I never paid no attention to politics before this. I always thought anybody who voted was a little fruity. But that little guy scared the hell out of me. Like a good Southerner, I hate political correctness but Sessions was too much for me. I signed right up and voted democrat.”