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Oldies Music Glossary: "Country Rock"

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The Byrds'

The Byrds' "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo," a landmark country-rock album

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Definition: The genre known as "Country Rock" came from a very specific time and place -- the late Sixties, when rockabilly was long gone from the pop consciousness and the "counterculture" or "hippie" movement was in full swing. This is important in understanding the genesis of Country Rock, since by that time, anything smacking of C&W was considered "establishment," in much the same way that "red" and "blue" states are culturally divided today. Although rock had come to terms with folk a few years earlier, making pure country influences more or less inevitable, the forbidden nature of country meant that rock musicians were led to the sound by respected icons in the vanguard -- most notably Bob Dylan, who released the subdued, Nashville-recorded John Wesley Harding in 1967, followed a little over a year later by the even more traditionalist Nashville Skyline.

At the same time, the Byrds, having lost David Crosby and gained country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons, were beginning to branch out into the still unlabeled genre. At the same time, West Coast natives raised on the Bakersfield Sound and Tex-Mex began to coalesce into bands, resulting in the explosion that created Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt, Poco, and The Eagles.

The typical country-rock song was an identifiable "rock" creation that used at least one element of standard country instrumentation, be it pedal steel or fiddle, kept the arrangement largely acoustic except for bass, and utilized countryish, Appalachian-style harmonies. Eventually, the style became harder and morphed, along with blues and boogie elements, into what is now called "Southern Rock," while country-rock artists attracted to the music's softer nature joined the "soft-rock" camp. Both styles proved to be a tremendous influence on the pop-based "new country" movement of the late Eighties and beyond.

Also Known As: Folk-Rock, Southern Rock
Examples:
  1. "Lay Lady Lay," Bob Dylan
  2. "The Weight," The Band
  3. "Hickory Wind," The Byrds
  4. "Train Leaves Here This Morning," Dillard and Clark
  5. "Garden Party," Rick Nelson
  6. "For What It's Worth," Buffalo Springfield
  7. "Sin City," The Flying Burrito Brothers
  8. "Take It Easy," The Eagles
  9. "A Good Feelin' To Know," Poco
  10. "Listen To The Band," The Monkees
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