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Country rock
Stylistic origins Folk rock - Country music - Country folk
Cultural origins Late 1960s Southern and Western United States
Typical instruments Guitar (acoustic, electric and pedal steel), Piano, Drums, Bass Guitar
Mainstream popularity late 1960s and early 1970s
Derivative forms Southern rock - Heartland rock - cowpunk - Alternative country

(complete list)
Other topics
Country folk - Roots rock - Outlaw country - Texas country

Country-rock is sub-genre of popular music, formed from the fusion of rock with country. The term is generally used to refer to the wave of rock musicians who began to record country-flavored records in the late 1960s and early 1970s, beginning with Bob Dylan and The Byrds; reaching its greatest popularity in the 1970s with artists like Emmylou Harris and the Eagles; continuing with cult status and occasional mainstream success to the present day.

Contents

History

Rock and roll has often been seen as a combination of rhythm and blues with country music, a fusion particularly evident in 1950s rockabilly,[1] and there has been cross-pollination throughout the history of both genres, however, the term country-rock is generally used to refer to the wave of rock musicians of the late 1960s and early 1970s who began to record rock records using country themes, vocal styles and additional instrumentation, most characteristically pedal steel guitar.[2]

Origins

Country influences can be heard on rock records through the 1960s, including tracks on the Beatles for Sale album (1964) (including "I'll Cry Instead" and "Baby's In Black"), on the Rolling Stones "High and Dry" (1966), as well as Buffalo Springfield's "Go and Say Goodbye" (1966) and "Kind Woman" (1968).[2] In 1966, as many rock artists moved increasingly towards expansive and experimental psychedelia, Bob Dylan spearheaded the back-to-basics roots revival when he went to Nashville to record the album Blonde on Blonde, using notable local musicians like Charlie McCoy.[3] This, and the subsequent more clearly country-influenced albums, John Wesley Harding (1967) and Nashville Skyline (1969), have been seen as creating the genre of country folk, a route pursued by a number of, largely acoustic, folk musicians.[3] Dylan's lead was also followed by The Byrds, who were joined by Gram Parsons in 1968. Earlier in the year Parsons had already recorded Safe at Home with the International Submarine Band, which made extensive use of pedal steel and is seen by some as the first true country-rock album.[2] The result of Parsons tenure in the Byrds was Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968), generally considered one of the finest and most influential recordings in the genre.[2] The Byrds continued for a brief period in the same vein, but Parsons left soon after the album was released to be joined by another ex-Byrds member Chris Hillman in forming The Flying Burrito Brothers. Over the next two years they recorded the albums The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969) and Burrito Deluxe (1970), which helped establish the respectability and parameters of the genre, before Parsons departed to pursue a solo career.[2]

Peak

Country rock was a particularly popular style in the California music scene of the late 1960s, and was adopted by bands including Hearts and Flowers, Poco and New Riders of the Purple Sage.[2] Some folk-rockers followed the Byrds into the genre, among them the Beau Brummels[2] and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.[4] A number of performers also enjoyed a renaissance by adopting country sounds, including: the Everly Brothers, whose Roots album (1968) is usually considered some of their finest work; former teen idol Rick Nelson who became the frontman for the Stone Canyon Band; Mike Nesmith who formed the First National Band after this departure from the Monkees; and Neil Young who moved in and out of the genre throughout his career.[2] One of the few acts to successfully move from the country side towards rock were the bluegrass band The Dillards.[2]

The greatest commercial success for country rock came in the 1970s, with the Doobie Brothers mixing in elements of R&B, Emmylou Harris (a former backing singer for Parsons) becoming the "Queen of country-rock" and Linda Ronstadt creating a highly successful pop-orientated brand of the genre.[5] Former members of Ronstadt's backing band went on to form the Eagles (made up of members of the Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco and Stone Canyon Band), who emerged as one of the most successful rock acts of all time, producing albums that included Desperado (1973) and Hotel California (1976).[5]

Legacy

Outside of these handful of stars, country rock's greatest significance was as an influence on artists in other genres, including The Band, Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Rolling Stones and George Harrison's solo work.[2] It also played a part in the development of Southern rock, which, although largely derived from blues-rock, had a distinct southern lilt, and it paved the way for parts of the alternative country movement.[2] The genre declined in popularity in the late 1970s, but some established artists, including Neil Young, have continued to record country-tinged rock into the twenty-first century. Country rock has survived as a cult force in Texas, where acts including The Flatlanders, Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, Jimmy Dale Gilmore and California-based Richard Brooker, have collaborated and recorded.[2][6] Other performers have produced occasional recordings in the genre, including Elvis Costello's Almost Blue (1981)[2] and the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss collaboration Raising Sand, which was one of the most commerically successful albums of 2007.[7]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ B. Horner and T. Swiss, Key terms in popular music and culture (Wiley-Blackwell, 1999), p. 104.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m V. Bogdanov, C. Woodstra and S. T. Erlewine, All music guide to rock: the definitive guide to rock, pop, and soul (Backbeat Books, 3rd edn., 2002), p. 1327.
  3. ^ a b K. Wolff, O. Duane, Country Music: The Rough Guide (Rough Guides, 2000), p. 392.
  4. ^ P. Buckley, The Rough Guide to Rock (Rough Guides, 3rd edn., 2003), p. 730.
  5. ^ a b N. E. Tawa, Supremely American: popular song in the 20th century: styles and singers and what they said about America (Scarecrow Press, 2005), pp. 227-8.
  6. ^ P. Buckley, The Rough Guide to Rock (Rough Guides, 3rd edn., 2003), pp. 145-6.
  7. ^ "The Top 50 Albums of 2007". Rolling Stone. December 17, 2007. Retrieved December 20, 2007.







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