The Diversifyin’ Late 60s/Early 70s, Part IV: Hot Burritos
No group was on the front of the country-rock movement more than The Flying Burrito Brothers. After Gram Parsons’s brief stint with The Byrds, where his influence resulted in the country Sweetheart of the Rodeo, he pilfered Byrd Chris Hillman and formed the new band. Unlike blues-rock, country-rock is ultimately indistinguishable from country and caters to the same crowd. Parsons brought his high lonesome voice and songs about heartache and drinking into a bona fide country group, whose sound was highlighted by the amazing work of Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel. Though FBB albums are hard to find, the library has a greatest hits.
Country music gets a bad rap. It irks me when I someone tells me, “Well, I like all kinds of music… except country.” I mean, first off, no one likes all kinds of music. I like a lot of different music, but you would never see me listening to, I don’t know, the newest Genghis Tron release. No offense to all the GT fans out there—both of them—it’s just not my cup of meat. But secondly, the negative associations of country probably stem from cowboys in rhinestones, melodramatic ballads, the Grand Ole Opry, and basically the entire campy Nashville scene from the seventies. But that isn’t the extent of country as several popular musicians best associated for non-country music have dabbled in it. Whether it be a song or two on their albums (The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, George Harrison, CSNY) or dedicating entire records to country (Bob Dylan on Nashville Skyline and Elvis Costello on Almost Blue,) country-rock merely reinforces the importance of country in popular music’s influences.
After four parts of talking about The Great Rock Schism, we can start to see why rock is as all encompassing as it is. Sub-genres like progressive and punk move away from the norm either through adoption of outside sources or complete rejection of the current traditions. Other movements re-embrace the roots of the music once the genre has drifted too far away.