Monday, July 28, 2008

The "Original" Sweetheart Of The Rodeo - UPDATED!

One of the things I like to do here at Setting The Woods On Fire is to compile what I call the "original" version of well-known cover albums.

It's no secret that The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo was an important album in the development of country rock. (Read about it here, here, and here.) But you might be surprised to learn that nine of the eleven songs were covers.

Listening to earlier versions of the songs covered by The Byrds, along with two originals written by then-member Gram Parsons, gives you a pretty good idea what the band was thinking when it created Sweetheart. It also shows how much of their own unique style The Byrds contributed to these songs.

1. You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere - Bob Dylan (buy)
2. I Am A Pilgrim - Merle Travis (buy)
3. The Christian Life - The Louvin Brothers (buy)
4. You Don’t Miss Your Water - William Bell (buy)
5. You’re Still On My Mind – George Jones (buy)
6. Pretty Boy Floyd - Woody Guthrie (buy)
7. Hickory Wind - The Byrds (buy Sweetheart Of The Rodeo)
8. 100 Years From Now - The Byrds (buy alternate version)
9. Blue Canadian Rockies - Hank Snow (out of print?)
10. Life In Prison - Merle Haggard (buy)
11. Nothing Was Delivered - Bob Dylan & The Band (buy)

[Note: The alternate take of 100 Years From Now is the original take using Gram Parsons' vocals, as opposed to Roger McGuinn's, which appear on the official release. Also, the Merle Travis and Hank Snow songs here are not the first recorded versions, just ones I liked better.]


Reader Eric points out that I should have used the Basement Tapes version of You Ain't Goin' Nowhere, which is the version The Byrds would have heard. Read his comment! Also on Eric's suggestion, I'm posting Otis Redding's excellent version of You Don't Miss Your Water:

Bob Dylan – You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Basement Tapes version) (buy)
Otis Redding – You Don’t Miss Your Water (buy)


Ted Barron said...


brendan said...

Yeah just too good. fantastic work.

Stu said...

Awesome. Love it!

Also, if you get the change (or maybe you already have) you should check out the Gram Parsons biography - Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music by David Meyer. It's an awesome read, and the appendices are filled with "essential listening" discographies and such.

Anonymous said...

you're doing realy a good job here.
I used to listen only to Jim Croce but trough you i discovered a whole range of great country tracks/artist such as John Hartford.

so thanks a lot
cause even if i'm from Germany there is a little cowboy in me

julia said...

Thanks for the Monday just got a whole lot sweeter! (Sorry, bad pun..)

cameo said...

great post. thanks a bunch.

Paul said...

Thanks everyone!

Anonymous said...

For me this is one of those records that I always return to and no matter how many times I hear this record it never loses it's magic. Thanks in particular for Hank Snow's take on 'Blue Canadian Rockies' and William Bell's 'You Don't miss Your Water' which I'm now hearing for the first time.
Is it a given that Gram Parson's version of 'One Hundred Years From Now' is vastly superior to the Roger Mcguinn cut on the album or is there anyone out there that feels Roger Mcguinn's effort deservedly made the final cut?
Anyway, love this album but always
felt the Gosdin Brother's 'Sounds of Goodbye' was just as good an album and probably just as influential in terms of shaping the evolving sound of country rock, also introducing Gene Clark to a sound he would later hone to perfection.

Paul said...


I like McGuinn's version too. I just included Gram's for a little variety.

"Sounds of Goodbye" is great too. Both albums feature Clarence White on guitar.

Hazy Dave said...

I always thought that was Chris Hillman singing the lead on "100 Years From Now" (and "Blue Canadian Rockies") from the Sweetheart of the Rodeo LP. At any rate, I think it's a stretch to call Gram's vocal "vastly" superior. I reckon the fact that the choice was made on legal rather than musical grounds makes the point moot, anyway.

Paul said...

Both Hillman and McGuinn sing on 100 years from now.


eric said...

You made one little mistake, the version of You Ain't Goin' Nowhere that you posted is a later bob dylan version released on his second greatest hits album(1971), the original is from the basement tapes and has the same lyrics as the byrds version. actually Dylan made the newer version of the song because he didnt like the way Roger McGuinn had adapted the song even adding "Put up your tent McGuinn" to the song as an insult. a decade later when McGuinn performed the song on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Bands second Will The Circle Be Unbroken album he adds "Pick up the Tent, Dylan"

eric said...

forgot to mention it is a great post! i suggest everyone listen to Otis Reddings version of You Dont Miss You Water, its really amazing. its on Otis Blue.

Paul said...


Thanks for pointing that out. I used the greatest hits version because I like it better, but I never checked to see that it was recorded after Sweetheart and didn't know the whole story--but I guess the lyrics should have tipped me off.

(I'm a "big picture" guy, and the commenters usually get me straight on the details! I swear, I've learned more from these comments than anything.)

I'll post the basement tapes version tonight after I get home from work.

Incidentally, I really like the way McGuinn adapted Dylan's versions.

Anonymous said...

1. You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere - Bob Dylan
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