PAT GREEN

Parenthood pushes the Texas honky-tonker to go deep on his new CD.

Pat Green knows he has a reputation, especially among the young Texas fans who made him a star in the Lone Star State. "Let's just say that I outdrank the crowd most of the time!" laughs the tall, cherub-faced singer, whose hit "Don't Break My Heart Again" is climbing the charts.

"I just always loved feeding off of a rowdy crowd. That's where I get my energy. That's where I'm at my best."

But Pat realizes now he has new responsibilities since he and wife Kori had their son, Kellis, on Oct. 27, 2003. He is the couple's first child-and Pat realizes that life as he formerly knew it will never be the same.

"There has to be a certain balance," he says, sitting in a booth at a Nashville burger-and- beer joint. "Now everything is in moderation, even when you're having fun.

"That doesn't mean I still don't like to feel the wind in my hair and get loose a little bit. Spontaneity is one of the things that makes life really, really great. But I'm really happy with the place I'm in now. I'm happy having the responsibilities I have."

Pat built his fame with rowdy shows that celebrated Texas life and the youthful pursuits of freedom-like drinking and carousing. His upbeat shows often turned into wild parties, with the energetic singer as head toastmaster. His new music now reflects his new life. "When I first started writing songs, I just wanted to go out to a bar and have a good time, so that's what I wrote about," says Pat. "Now I'm in a different place, so of course the songs have changed, too. I'm not trying to change the world with my songs.

"But there's deep subject matter that can be touched on-and I'm more willing to go there now than I used to be."

One example of a deeper song, the spirituality-laced "Wave on Wave," gave Pat his first national radio hit. Already by then an established star in Texas-where he sells-out stadium shows- the song introduced him to new audiences and earned a Grammy nomination in 2003.

"My goal has been to take my brand of Texas country music to a higher visibility," he says, dipping bites of his burger into a bowl of mayo and ketchup. "I also think I can bring a younger audience to country music."

It's a mission he's accomplishing now that "Don't Break My Heart Again"-from his new CD, Lucky Ones-almost hit the Top 20. "I think we have some great songs that are very true to me and to how I live," says Pat. "At the same time, they're songs that can easily be on the radio and reach out to people."

Several tunes address the idea of accepting responsibility while not letting go of youthful impulsiveness. Pat doesn't deny they're autobiographical.

"For a song to ring true it has to come from some honest place in you," he explains. "These songs are all very personal to me and my wife and friends and family.

"I haven't written a song about my son yet, though. Those will come later. We're only a year into it-and something that profound cannot be dug into quickly."

All this talk about adult responsibility eventually gets to the singer, though. "Man, I hope I don't come off as this really mature guy, because I'm not!" he declares. "I'm not afraid to go to a bar and have fun. And I'm still trying to be the life of the party-I don't think that'll ever change.

"I'm trying to strike a balance somewhere between being a real grown-up and the kid I used to be," he says, flashing a grin. "That's what I call my gray area."

- MICHAEL McCALL

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