Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Byrds: I am A Pilgrim

The album “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” was first full-fledged entry into Country-Rock by The Byrds. This 1968 release is sometimes touted as the first Country-Rock album by anyone. The addition of Gram Parsons into The Byrds help cement this new genre for the band. It was Roger McGuinn’s idea to create a double album release that would serve as a history of American popular music. That never occurred, but many of the songs made it to final version.

Tensions between McGuinn and Parsons erupted during the post production when McGuinn re-recorded his vocals in place of the previous tracks recorded by Parsons. Recorded in Nashville, it is still considered one of The Byrds’ finest albums.

The second track of the album included a gospel song written in 1898 by Herbert Johnson. Bassist Chris Hillman sang lead and played guitar on the track and Roger McGuinn added the banjo track. Non-Byrds who participated were John Hartford on fiddle and Roy Husky on stand-up bass. Not too countrified, the track has a very pleasant feel to it. I’ve even performed this song several times in the past.

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