Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Country Rock 101: Hill Billy Rock and Roll


Some rock fans will recoil at the idea of country music, thinking immediately of Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton or Glen Campbell. Country music, however, has had a massive influence in the history of rock music, with artists like the Eagles, the Doobie Brothers and Neil Young falling squarely in the genre of country rock.

Arguably, the originator of country rock was songwriter and guitarist Gram Parsons of The Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers. He did this through his music and through his rock and roll lifestyle, dying at the age of 26 of an overdose, Lucinda Williams to write a song about him called "Drunken Angel."

If Gram Parsons is the most critically acclaimed originator of country rock, Neil Young is probably the best known. His work with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and his solo albums have all had a heavy country influence, something he has continued with the release of Prairie Wind in 2005, an album reminiscent of his most famous album, Harvest.

The Band also had a heavy country influence, blending it with rhythm & blues and rock & roll to create iconic American music. Bob Dylan recorded a number of country-style albums, most notably Nashville Skyline (1969). Other important country-influenced artists of this era were Creedence Clearwater Revival, Poco, Little Feat, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

Here are my top ten country rock tracks, if you want to get a start on coming to grips with this genre.

1. "Lay Me Down" - David Crosby and Graham Nash

2. "White Line Fever" - The Flying Burrito Brothers

3. "Long Distance Love" - Little Feat

4. "Dead Flowers" - Gram Parsons

5. "Fortunate Son" - Creedence Clearwater Revival

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