Category: Ragtime Willy’s Music Corner


 

Country music seems to get a pretty bad rap these days, with many dismissing it out of hand without giving it half a chance.

To remedy this I’ve put together a short list of my favourite country / country influenced tracks from in and around 1970.

http://www.mixcloud.com/RagtimeWilly/country-music-isnt-shit/

 

The Byrds – I am a Pilgrim (1968)

You can’t really mention country without talking about Gram Parsons. He came to prominence when he was drafted into the Byrds to play piano on Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Himself and Chris Hillman left soon after it was released which pretty much spelled the end of The Byrds (Roger McGuinn being the only founding member left).

Further listening: Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968)

The Flying Burrito Brothers – Christine’s Tune (1969)

Formed in the wake of Sweetheart of the Rodeo by Gram Parsons & Chris Hillman, The Flying Burrito Brothers veered slightly more towards country rock than their previous output. The group released a couple of great albums before Parsons left and the quality went downhill.

Further listening: The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969), Burrito Deluxe (1970)

Guy Clark – Desperados Waiting for a Train (1975)

One of Clarke’s finest songs. If you’re anything like me you’re a sucker for songs about cowboys, and this is one of the best – a heartbreaking country ballad about a man’s recollection of an unspecified father figure.

Further listening: Old No. 1 (1975)

Grateful Dead – Friend of the Devil (1970)

One of my all-time favourite tracks, off one of my all-time favourite albums. A folksy/bluegrassy/country tune about an outlaw on the run, supported the whole way through by David Grisman’s excellent mandolin playing.

Further listening: American Beauty (1970), Workingman’s Dead (1970)

New Riders of the Purple Sage – Henry (1971)

The New Riders of the Purple Sage were a group formed by Jack Dawson & David Nelson that enjoyed a close relationship with Jerry Garcia/The Grateful Dead. Their first album is a classic mix of country, bluegrass & psychedelia and features some of Jerry Garcia’s finest steel pedal guitar playing.

Further listening: New Riders of the Purple Sage (1971)

Hoyt Axton – Gypsy Moth (1976)

Not his most country song, but Axton’s voice gives it an undeniable country tinge. If you’re annoyed that it doesn’t quite fit the bill just pretend I picked Boney Fingers and fuck off.

Further listening: The A&M Years (1973-1976)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising (1969)

Although Creedence were primarily a rock band, John Fogerty was brought up on country music and I suppose it couldn’t help coming out now and again. Take yer pick between Bad Moon and Lodi for your favourite Creedence country song.

Further listening: Green River (1969), Willy & the Poor Boys (1969), The Blue Ridge Rangers: Rides Again (2009)

James Luther Dickinson – Wild Bill Jones (1972)

I don’t think this album ever really got much recognition and I don’t know too much about the man himself, but it’s an excellent piece of work and well worth checking out.

Further listening: Dixie Fried (1972)

Neil Young – Old Man (1972)

May not be the most obvious country pick as the track is dominated by Young’s superb guitar work. But it’s got banjos and slide guitar, so it’s fucking country music, alright? The same can be said for the majority of Harvest (with the exception of Main Needs a Maid & There’s a World)

Further Listening: Harvest (1972), A Treasure (2011)

John Hartford – Steam Powered Aereo Plane (1971)

Hard to pick a favourite from Hartford’s work, but I think this captures the essence of his music quite well – both the instrumentation and the melancholic quirkiness that typifies his song writing. If you’re not familiar with the rest of work I urge you to check it out above anything else in this list.

Also, he played banjo on Sweetheart of the Rodeo which brings us nicely back to the start of the list.

Further Listening: Housing Project (1968), Aereo-Plain (1971)

Hopefully I’ve left out enough people’s favourites to get some feedback and a wee discussion going.

 

We are glad to announce that the infamous @Ragtime_Willy has joined the team.

He’s nothing more than a beard in a shirt, but this guy knows obscure music when he hears it.

And he hears it quite often.

Enjoy!

 

 

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