Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Album Roots: The Byrds - Sweetheart of the Rodeo

The Roots of Sweetheart Of The Rodeo
Original versions of the songs that inspired the Byrds' landmark country rock album.

Bob Dylan & The Band • Merle Travis • The Louvin Brothers
William Bell • George Jones • Woody Guthrie
Gene Autry • Merle Haggard

I've always loved the Byrds' Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. Over the years, I've come to appreciate it in different ways, but one thing I've always enjoyed doing is seeking out the original versions of the songs and compiling them into the playing order of the album. So for today's post, that's what I've done. Since there are two original Gram Parsons songs on the album, those songs have been omitted.

The source material for the album is quite varied. Though there are a number of country songs and artists that the band drew from, as they often did, they also culled a couple of songs from the pen of Bob Dylan. The two songs they covered for Sweetheart were both newly written and recorded songs from Dylan & The Band's legendary Basement Tapes sessions. The Byrds probably weren't the first artists to record songs from those sessions, but they were certainly among the earliest. As they had also done before, they drew from older folk material as well, in this case Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd," and "I Am A Pilgrim" from Merle Travis's Folk Songs Of The Hills album. Though the Byrds had not previously looked to the world of R&B for cover material, for Sweetheart they took Stax artist William Bell's "You Don't Miss Your Water" and made a southern soul ballad into a credible country song.

It's interesting to hear the wide variety of influences that made up this groundbreaking album. I think it also makes for a very enjoyable listen. I hope you do too...


jim said...

Great concept. Thanks.

Don said...

The Byrds did a remarkable job of distilling out some of the most beautiful characteristic sounds of country music and concentrating them in their Sweethearts of the Rodeo album. I've often thought this album might be an ideal one for showing someone who thinks country music isn't for them that it can be really engaging and beautiful.

Thanks again for displaying more roots of of country music for all to see.

Anonymous said...

Joaquin, I've been trying to figure out how to post pictures side-by-side. If there any chance you could let me know how you do it? Thanks, Marie

Joaquin LeFleur said...

@Marie - If you shoot me your email address, I'll email you back with some tips...

So glad you're enjoying the posts!!!


Carlyle Madison said...

Thanks for a great idea well executed.