Sweetheart of the Rodeo, The Byrds
Columbia Records, July 29, 1968
Track Listing: 1. You Ain’t Going Nowhere, 2. I Am a Pilgrim, 3. The Christian Life, 4. You Don’t Miss Your Water, 5. You’re Still on My Mind, 6. Pretty Boy Floyd, 7. Hickory Wind, 8. One Hundred Years from Now, 9. Blue Canadian Rockies, 10. Life in Prison, 11. Nothing Was Delivered
It was Gram Parsons who pushed (shoved) The Byrds into country music. It was Parsons who decided The Byrds should travel to Nashville, Tennessee—country music’s hallowed ground—to record Sweetheart of the Rodeo. It was the passion that Parsons had for the country music he grew up on that infected Roger McGuinn and the boys, prompting The Byrds to follow Gram to the Promised Land. As they say, the rest is history.
Or, not so fast. Due to a strange and unfortunate twist of fate (and, ahem, contractual issues), most of Gram’s vocals would be stripped from the album and re-recorded by McGuinn. Ouch. That surely had to be a bitter pill to swallow. But with the help of another of Sweetheart’s key contributors (Chris Hillman), Parsons would get a chance to exact revenge some form revenge later (see The Gilded Palace of Sin).
“If I go away, you know I’m gonna get back some how”
-from “One Hundred Years From Now”
The Byrds achieved immortality before Sweetheart of the Rodeo. But with its release, they engineered an entirely new form of country music that is still being explored and crafted in earnest today. Its influence shines on like the snowcapped peaks of the blue Canadian Rockies.
Note: The 2003 Legacy reissue of Sweetheart of the Rodeo adds back the vocals of Parsons.