Aug 072013
 

I read that Sheryl Crow is taking a page out of the old time rock ‘n roll playbook and shifting to country music full time — complete with visits to country radio stations, right out of Coal Miner’s Daughter. It seems to be in the grand tradition of Elvis, Jerry Lee, Carl Perkins, and others to move down the dial to country after the rock hits have dried up. This summer “Hootie” grabbed an Old Crow Medicine Show song “Wagon Wheel” — a hit that is hard to avoid — so good for him.

Does anyone remember Chris Hillman’s Desert Rose Band, who a had big country hit in the late ’80s with a John Hiatt song via Nick Lowe, “She Don’t Love Nobody”?

I recall the country sheen was a little hard for me to take at the time. but I do like Chris’ nod to the Burritos with the Nudie suit.

Who’s your favorite rocker turned country — or would-be country star?

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  18 Responses to “Crossing Over to Rock Country”

  1. I’m immediately reminded of Tom Petty’s recent digs at modern country music, in which he said something to the effect of it being “bad rock music with a fiddle.” I’m not a big fan of even “real” country music, but despite liking Petty, his criticisms verge on the pot calling the kettle black. It might be said that, these days, Petty cranks out bad country music without the fiddle. What do I know?

    What I DO know is that it’s hard for rock musicians to make country music without sounding “country,” at which point I wonder if the rock musicians lose their identity. The Flying Burrito Brothers’ first album and the rocking songs on the second one are great. The rest sounds like country music to me – very formulaic and lacking the truly distinctive voices that “real” country musicians I know a little about have. The Eagles, for as much as I despise them, did a nice job using elements of country music to make bad rock ‘n roll. There was something to be said for them building their own identity, not just “playing country.”

  2. cliff sovinsanity

    Hey Funoka have you been looking into your crystal ball? Because this thread is going to be a good warm up to this week’s Saturday Night Shut-In. Stay tuned.
    This weekend I’ll play Michael Nesmith who released a couple decent country-rock albums in the early 70’s. Of course, he was already dabbling a little in country with the Monkees (You Told Me, Sunny Girlfriend)

  3. Neil Young is a rock artist who can go country without sacrificing his identity.

  4. I’ve mentioned it before but I generally like when rock guys try to go country. They miss the mark in the best possible way. As opposed to when rock guys play the blues…

    The Rolling Stones are a great example of both.

    When Country guys try to go rock it just sounds flaccid to me.

  5. trigmogigmo

    I think Petty once long ago made a very self-deprecating comment about the music he makes. Something like “it’s just rock and roll, disposable crap”. A few of his efforts have had a bit of an easy country slant on them.

    Then there’s the plethora of acts that are … I don’t know what they call that brand of “country” that is really just Journey dressed up in country cliché twang, like Shania Twain or most of the popular “country” music acts.

  6. Good point. I listen to “Old Ways” a lot — even though David Geffen didn’t want to release it. He did a great live doc featuring Emmylou and and his wife that is good country. I think they may have done it from the Ryman.

  7. I used to have a couple of those Nesmith albums on 8-track and always liked them — so I look forward to Saturday Nite, putting on my cowboy boots and cracking PBR!

  8. cliff sovinsanity

    95% of popular country today has more in common with Bon Jovi than Bob Wills. It is sickening in so many ways to see a genre suck so completely not unlike what happened to R&B in the 80’s. Of course there has always been a pop aspect to country but much of what came out in popular country in the 20 years before 2000 was respectful, from the likes of George Strait, Travis Tritt, even Garth Brooks.
    Meanwhile, country has never been bigger. No accounting for peoples bad taste in music.

  9. BigSteve

    I remember buying the first couple of Desert Rose albums on cassette. That John Jorgenson was a terrific guitar player, and it was good to see Chris Hillman get his due.

    80s country was cool. I was really getting into it, and then Garth Brooks came along and blew the whole thing up.

  10. BigSteve

    And for my favorite rocker gone country, it’s hard to beat Jerry Lee Lewis’ 60s records on Smash. What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me) and She Still Comes Around (To Love What’s Left of Me) are awesome.

  11. cliff sovinsanity

    Did anybody like that Ween country album?

  12. The Bon Jovi country record is everything that is bad about modern country

    Ok, Big and Rich are everything that’s wrong w country

  13. My favorite band of the post 1980’s is The Jayhawks. They are rock musicians playing country. Their influences are as much I don’t want to spoil the party as streets of Baltimore. That’s what I like about them. They became more and more rock as they went on. Their 5th lp had almost no country influence at all. They then went back a bit to folk and country sounds.

  14. That’s cool. I was too stupid to even understand who Chris Hillman was back then — so it’s kind of fascinating to me that The Desert Rose band was enjoying mainstream country success with somebody I later considered a rock icon for the Byrds and Burritos albums I finally discovered during my 90s alt-country phase. It seems to me that most country fans didn’t know and/or care about Hillman’s past.

  15. I do have to chime in and defend Petty’s somewhat recent (2006) “Highway Companion” produced by Jeff Lynne — I wore that out.
    http://youtu.be/vPYFWnzjIy0

  16. ladymisskirroyale

    I did. I owned it some time ago but lost it to some long ago dude who borrowed it.

 
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