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Sweetheart of the Rodeo Redux

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It was Dylan meets the Beatles.
Roger McGuinn

​Not So Secret Agents of Change
Recently two of the founding members of one of the most influential bands that ever plugged it in got together for a series of concerts celebrating the release of their seminal LP: Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the legendary album that perhaps more any other brought together the sounds of country music to a rock audience. These two musical immortals were joined by the reliably brilliant Marty Stuart and his group the Fabulous Superlatives.
The band they were celebrating were the The Byrds.

The group, led by the other worldly sounds of Roger McGuinn and his  
Rickenbacker guitar, were in the vanguard of forging a lasting and indelible link between rock and country music.
How influential was the sound of the Bryds and their founding members; Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hillman,  and Michael Clark?
Herewith is a lyrical tribute via Bob Dylans’s masterpiece, The Times They Are AChangin’. Imagine all the music and joy we’d be without if not for their serendipitous arrival on the scene in 1965 with their cover of Bob Dylan’s genre-changing song, Mr. Tambourine Man.

They Changed the Game. Forever.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that your affection for Tom Petty
Has Grown
And accept it that Wilco
and Love of Country music has shown
If your time with REM
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the music it is a-changin’.

Come Chet Flippo and critics
Who write with your pen
And keep your options wide open
The likes of Hank won’t be seen again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the  Chet Atkins now
Will be later to win
For the music it is a-changin’.

Come vocalists and pedal steelers
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who is appalled
There’s a band outside
And it is ragin’.
 Skynyrd will soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the music it is a-changin’.

Come Hipsters and Dilettantes
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
The Allmans you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are down with the The Band
Your Gilded Palace of Sin is rapidly aging
Please get outta’ the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the music it is a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The Harvest is cast
The Graham Parsons now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
Little Feat will never be fading
Your first Emmy Lou will never be your last
For the music it is a-changin’

My Not So Back Pages
The year was 1965, smack dab in the middle of the  British Invasion, and everything you heard on the radio or out of windows was either Brit, or, something from those surfer guys out west, the Beach Boys. I was visiting my buddy Rocky Draud, fellow music lover and seeker of wisdom and mirth. You see, the Drauds had one of those marvelous music machines; a reel-to-reel tape deck. It was so exotic and H.G. Wells-like. To the best of my recollection, Rocky said something like this.
“Doug, I’m going to play you something we haven’t heard before, (Dylan had not yet released his song) It’s fantastic. I can’t get it out of my head, but, heck, just give this a listen.”
Well, after listening to Mr. Tambourine Man. at least ten times in a row, and then the rest of the LP, I was mesmerized, enthralled, blown-away and bewitched!
From Chris Hillman’s opening bass notes, to the last glorious chorus, I was enchanted. Truth is, the Byrds were covering a pretty good songwriter by the name of Bob Dylan. And, that, my friends, is how the world, at least my teenage perspective of it, first came upon the bard from Hibbing, Minnesota, Robert (Bob) Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan. They were in fact the ultimate Dylan cover band. Yes, that was an unforgettable day to say the least.  And, because so many muscians and artists would be influenced by the Byrds, their works would resonate many years into the future, and, by virtue of their new tour, into the present as well.

*Dedicated to the Sweetheart of Atlanta Advertising; the One, the Only, Sarah Cotton. This uberconfident, razor-sharp lady gave me my first job in the business, and started me on my inexorable path to numerous, unforgettable encounters with the beautiful, the gifted, and the damned.

Photograph Courtesy of ​​Jane Shirek