Upon the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the release of “Grievous Angel,” it’s not considered hyperbole; it’s considered an empirical truth that Grievous Angel was a generationally important work of country music.
The life of Gram Parsons came to a crashing end 50 years ago today, September 19th, 1973, in Room 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn in Joshua Tree, California. Gram had just finished up recording what would be his final album.
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There’s nobody out there pushing the creativity of country music to the edges of human consciousness like Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives are doing here, even among the gaggle of young bucks fresh and hungry to make their mark.
Picking up where Marty’s last album Way Out West released in 2017 left off, Altitude will explore the foray of The Byrd’s into country music through their album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. It was during Marty’s Stuart’s stint supporting surviving Byrds members and co-founders.
Nothing has ever happened on the Grand Ole Opry stage, good or bad, that tops the moment that the recently-minted Country Music Hall of Famer and the even more recently dearly departed Jerry Lee Lewis enacted when he made his Grand Ole Opry debut 50 years ago.
American folk and rock music legend David Crosby has died at the age of 81. Most famous for his roles in The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, and Nash (later ‘& Young’), he was right there in the middle of the counterculture revolution of America that very much became the mainstream culture in the mid and late 60s.
As reported by Saving Country Music in July, a new 6-part, 12-hour documentary named ‘They Called Us Outlaws: Cosmic Cowboys, Honky Tonk Heroes, and the Rise of Renegade Troubadours’ is on the way, featuring over 90 interviews and 75 live performances, with Jessi Colter executive producing.
Country music is country music, and the best definition of what country music is, is that you know it when you hear it. It’s self-evident. But the genre has birthed many subgenres, many stylistic movements over the years, and at times has seen a splintering and Balkanization.
The next major exhibit will also delve into the California influence in country, just later in the timeline. Called ‘Western Edge: The Roots and Reverberations of Los Angeles Country Rock,’ it will span from the 1960s to the 1980s, and will start with the original pioneers .
There are not many sectors of bluegrass music that weren’t at one point or another touched by the work of mandolin player Roland White. The brother of fellow bluegrass legend and later country rocker Clarence White, an original member of The Kentucky Colonels…
From the hills and hollers of Kentucky as a strict traditionalist, to some of the most enterprising and innovative interpretations of the bluegrass form, from beside artists as far ranging as Ricky Skaggs and Jerry Garcia, Tony Rice was American string music incarnate.
It’s worth noting that Rolling Stone’s new updated version of their “500 Best Albums of All Time” significantly diminishes iconic titles from the classic country canon. Not only were some titles downgraded, some were eliminated entirely.
Chris Darrow, multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter, country rock pioneer and member of multiple influential bands including the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and The Corvettes who backed up Linda Ronstadt, has passed away according to his representatives. He was 75-years-old. He was a centerpiece of country rock.
Undoubtedly, you could not tell the story of country music in the late 60’s and early 70’s without broaching the political upheaval and countercultural revolution roiling American society at the time. But the time spent on stories that were only proxies to country music bogged this episode down in stretches.
Tom Petty and a host of other cool folks have come together to collaborate on Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers alumnus Chris Hillman’s first record in over a decade called ‘Bidin’ My Time.’ The album includes a collection of songs from in and around Chris Hillman’s career, but many that fell through the cracks in one way or another.
When The Byrds played the Opry in 1968, they were heckled from the gallery of the Ryman Auditorium. Today it is a much different story. Pharrell Williams, Kiefer Sutherland, and even Chewbacca Mom have made appearances with not just the approval of the Opry management, but to ovations from the Opry crowd.
Though maybe not as recognizable of a name as many of the artists Gib shared lineups with, including Gene Parsons and Clarence White, his unique approach to music, influenced by his distinctly Cajun flavor and upbringing, made Guibeau seminal to the sound that would become West Coast country rock.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, TN has announced what will be their next major two-year exhibit to replace the current Bakersfield Sound exhibit in the museum’s largest revolving exhibit space. It will be called Dylan, Cash, & The Nashville Cats, and it will primarily focus on folk songwriting icon Bob Dylan, Country Music Hall of Famer and Legend Johnny Cash, and the “Nashville Cats.”
This initial offering from The Loudermilks finds the band ranging from the bluegrass-inspired and steel guitar-drenched opening number “Watch ‘Em Fall”, to the the nearly straightforward rock styling of “The Plan”, accomplishing all with equal ability to enrapture the audience and appeal to whichever musical leanings the listener happens to carry.
It’s been my contention for years that if genre bending pioneer Beck ever made a straight up country record, it could have a similar effect as when The Byrds, heavily influenced by Gram Parsons, released Sweetheart of the Rodeo, allowing young hip listeners outside of country’s borders to realize the virtues of the genre.”I’m hearing the Byrds, Crosby Stills and Nash, Gram Parsons, Neil Young,” says Beck.
When it comes to the preservation of the history and sound of country music, you can make the case there is nobody who does it better and with more passion and dedication than Marty Stuart. Tireless and true to his convictions, from his music, to his archive of memorabilia, to his presence on television and the Grand Ole Opry stage, and to some of the thankless things he does well out of the public eye…
Of all the country music greats, Merle’s story might be the most symbolic of the American experience: from growing up in California as the son of Okie parents during The Depression, to spending time in prison, to becoming a rags to riches story. When it comes to influencing country music itself, few this side of Hank Williams can say they’ve left a bigger footprint.
“That night in my house [was] the first time these songs were heard…” Johnny Cash went on. “Joni Mitchell sang ‘Both Sides Now,’ Graham Nash sang ‘Marrakesh Express,’ Shel Silverstein sang ‘A Boy Named Sue,’ Bob Dylan sang ‘Lay Lady Lay,’ and Kristofferson sang ‘Me & Bobby McGee.’ That was the first time any of those songs were heard.”