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