Did the Stones ever do country? Really?


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Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Aug 14, 2012 - 01:26pm PT
^ The soul of the matter so to speak.
Mike Friedrichs

Sport climber
City of Salt
Aug 14, 2012 - 01:51pm PT
Thanks Tobia. Just ordered Twenty Thousand Roads. Looks like a great read. I really like reading about lives like that, how they were influenced and what motivated them. I appreciate the reference.

Trad climber
Aug 14, 2012 - 02:08pm PT
the meyers book is less a bio of parsons than a hagiography. he essentially claims that exile on main street was a gp project.

if we set aside the question of whether or not one personally likes the way parsons changed vocal aesthetics for country and gospel-- eliminating the twang, grit and regional accents in favor of a honeyed, layered sound that owed more to commercial folk music --and look at his actual accomplishments, the GP vita is remarkably slim. Three or possibly four good songs, a strong role in shaping emmylou harris, and partying with the stones. and persuading the byrds to record their least successful album.

folks can differ on whether they personally like honky tonk with the edges polished off. it doesn't matter. even if you do, it's a slim vita if you try and compare it it with those of folks from the same period doing similar musical innovation-- bob dylan, johnny cash, willie nelson, billy joe shaver, tony joe white. willie nelson's first demo collection had more great-- and musically important --songs on it than we could ever claim for GP. if you want him to be in the pantheon, you have to run him against folks at that level. and he didn't run at that level.

it's fine to like the way he sang and arranged. lots of folks do. but it's the jfk phenomenon. folks identifiy libidinally with whatever it is they think he stood for, and then, since he was young, rich, good-looking and died young, we can project whatever we want.

the real problem with the "country" and "rock" discussion is that it is generated entirely by marketing labels developed by the music and radio industries as they became corporate oligopolies. the labels didn't even exist prior to the emergence of corporate radio. you had to have the emergence of all those segregated consumer niches for them even to make sense-- the black musicians became r&b or soul or blues; the white guys playing r&b became rock, whites with southern accents and no drums became "country."

and then in the mid-sixties, the labels became politicized-- "country" meant butch wax, sexual repression, loathing of marijuana, and support for the war in vietnam; "rock" meant long hair, sexual freedom, smoking dope, and opposing the war.

so then it suddenly became a big deal to "mix" "rock" and "country." sociologically, it was a big deal. but musically, it wasn't.

Mike Friedrichs

Sport climber
City of Salt
Aug 14, 2012 - 03:34pm PT
klk - some pretty insightful comments. I like reading what you have to say. sociologically, it was a big deal. but musically, it wasn't. I think that's true. I don't think that Gram Parsons really shaped the future or direction of country music.

But 3 or 4 good songs? He clearly wasted a lot of time and had no work ethic. They can't all be Bruce Springsteen I guess. But he certainly had talent and wrote more than 3 good songs. I sort of like Johnny Cash but as a song writer I think he's way overrated. GP has more good songs on one album than Johnny Cash wrote in his career. And, perhaps like GP, Johnny Cash didn't write his best song. I don't think GP has as many good songs as Townes, or Steve Earle, but they came later.

I think for me GP's songs have staying power. I still like them after all these years. For whatever reason, I don't feel that way about Willie Nelson's songs, or Johnny Cash's songs, or the Doors for that matter. And I'm still interested in what motivated him, at least in his early years.

Trad climber
Aug 14, 2012 - 07:21pm PT
GP has more good songs on one album than Johnny Cash wrote in his career.

Ranking songs is difficult because popular musics are so personal and there aren't good criteria for evaluation, aside from commercial success. But that is one, and not irrelevant because it is popular music after all, or else is supposed to be if you're recording songs to be played commercially.

Then there are things like, does the song become a standard for live performers? Does it get covered by other performers? Is it musically influential or innovative? THose may or may not be easily measured, but if we use them we can get beyond the "i personally like this or that." and that's worth doing. for instance, i personally don't like bob dylan. i don't like many of the songs, i hate his voice, and what he did to the harmonica should be frickin illegal. but there's no way i would try to argue that he should get pushed down into the second or third tier of musical figures of the period.

johnny cash's first album (he was 23) featured rock island line, cry, cry, cry, wreck of the old 97, folsom prison blues, and i walk the line. he had already written-- or was writing --get rhythm, mean eyed cat, hey porter, big river. whether we like jc or not, almost every one of those songs was a commercial success, was endlessly covered by other performers on and off record, and established one of the most distinctive and (at the time) novel sounds in american music.

gp never ever had a hit. sin city, hickory wind and wild horses all got (and do get) covered. and emmylou recorded ooh las vegas (i actually like that song, but wouldnt make a big case for it.

doesn't mean folks shouldn't like gp. three really good songs is really good. and he certainly was a strong influence on emmylou and to some extent, the stones. but no, i don't see a case for putting him up in that top tier of folks.

but popular music is pretty personal, which is one of the reasons that it tends to generate fairly poor history. most band and star bios tend to be fan chronicles. so in fairness to meyers, i have to say that it's really not an easy genre to write in.

as for the soul question, it's not one i ask. lots of shallow as#@&%es make really amazing art. in fact, most of the most amazing art seems to get made by really damaged people. hey, narcissists suffer, too. and some of them are good at turning it into art. or athletic performance.

Trad climber
Aug 14, 2012 - 07:30pm PT

speaking of covers.

someone less lazy should put the bil keith/jim rooney version up on youtube.

Social climber
Aug 14, 2012 - 08:49pm PT

I like reading the biographies also; at least the well written ones. I have read good ones about The Band, Neil Young etc.

KLK, I was addressing the statement of whether or not the man had "soul"; not the level of impact he had on the evolution of music.

I would have to disagree about the tone of the book Twenty Thousand Roads. It does anything but glorify Parsons; just the opposite. He pays credence to the chapters of Parson's life that deserve it; however he doesn't hold back any criticism of his shortcomings. He dispels a lot of the myth and idol worship of Parsons.

Social climber
Aug 14, 2012 - 09:45pm PT
hey there say, jaybro...

ever since i first heard the stones, they were/ae are a major like, due to the whole 'sound-mix' that they had, beat and all, and, in the list of music that i like (though my list is very versitile and branching into lot of stuff, and not a certain era, etc, only) they still are tops, there... i always could hear all kinds of variety/texture, so to speak, which i figured had been gleaned over the years from sooo many folks, as all musicians do when they are learning to put together what THEY love and how they want to be, as to who they WILL be... but:

but wow--i did not know that the stones did country :O ... but then,
i just considered them as 'good ol' rock and roll' (a mixture of many sounds)

perhaps wrongly?, though, but... i just figured country was like, well, the old country stuff--well, you know, simple 'down home foot stompin' stuff' so common before electric-growth and changes...

thanks for all the shares... learnling lots of stuff here at the ol' taco...

the links that i could do, i enjoyed, too, thanks so much...
oh, yes, and: did hear a 'stones' type voice-sound, and beat-sound, etc, too--the type that i liked...

course, that's me, and i sure don't know my music stuff like you all do, :)) ...

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Aug 14, 2012 - 11:51pm PT
hey there say, Neebee - good to hear from you

Another in a continuing saga of Link Wray influences.

Jimmy (not Patty) Page Rumbling with Link


At a session one day, using a pencil, Wray punched holes in the speaker of his amplifier, and thereby invented what guitar players know today as fuzz-tone
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 15, 2012 - 12:15am PT
some background on this thread...

while driving from Laramie to SLC we listened to the albums:

Beggars Banquet
Let it Bleed
Some Girls
Sticky Fingers

the next day Jaybro woke up with the Stone's playing in his head...

As we made our way Southwest from Ely to Tonapah I played the 10 versions of Willin' including the original by Little Feat and the earlier Byrd's (who I think recorded it before Little Feat) and a whole bunch of folk since then...

...at some point the issue of the Stones ever doing country came up...

now I put the Stones' country influence at the feet of Ry Cooder, who was a session musician with them in 1968 and 69, including Let it Bleed and Sticky Fingers... and interestingly played with Lowell George on the original version of Willin' (how's that for full circle!)

My thought is that Country Honk is the only original Stones country song, both Dear Doctor and Far Away Eyes are parodies of country songs... in my opinion.

How about this Jagger solo effort with Cooder on slide guitar

an alternate take:

and by the way, the original album release of Let it Bleed credited the Robert Johnson song Love in Vain to Jagger and Richards...


Social climber
Aug 15, 2012 - 01:59pm PT
I never thought of Ry Cooder as "country". It would be hard not to associate him with country music; since he plays the mandolin and he has either dabbled in or worked extensively in every other genre of music.

He, as well as Lowell George, were preeminent slide guitar players of the day. Both were in high demand as session players and other roles in the music industry. In those days the community of musicians was much smaller; especially the one centered in southern California. Lowell George spent more time in recording studios than he did playing.

Lowell George, as a band mate of Frank Zappa, crossed paths with Ry Cooder in the studio and as well in association with the good Captain Beefheart. Both also played with Richie Haywood, the drummer for Little Feat. Others would include Jack Nitzsche, Roy Estrada, Van Dyke Parks or anybody else hanging out in Laurel Canyon.

Willin' was a song written by Lowell George and Richie Haywood. Cooder's role in the original recording of Willin' is due to their friendship and the fact that Lowell George butchered his hand and was incapable of playing slide. The song was recorded in Lowell George's home with the aid of Russ Titelman on piano and Gene Parsons (Byrds) on the drums; but it was pared down for the album to Lowell George's vocals, acoustic guitar and Ry Cooder's slide guitar. The first release of the song was on Little Feat's debut album, Little Feat (sometimes referred to as the Hamburger Midnight album). At the time of it's release it was being covered by many bands; especially those playing in the L.A. venues.


Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 15, 2012 - 02:27pm PT
I dunno Ed, that me from... sounds more like spoken word with a delta blues backing than country

Hmmm, looks like The Ballad Of Professor Boulder and the sportclimbing epidemiologist rope up at the Dylan Wall, is in the works!

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Aug 15, 2012 - 03:15pm PT
and by the way, the original album release of Let it Bleed credited the Robert Johnson song Love in Vain to Jagger and Richards...

Ryland claims he originated the riff for Honky Tonk. I believe him over the Stones.

He was blown away by their debauchery and departed the sessions on not too good terms.

Dr. John doesn't get along well with the Stones either.

Rumour has it that George was willin' to have Link Wray play slide on that song, but he turned it down. Prolly just a rumour.

The truth will (not) out.

Did Link Wray ever do country, really?

Apparently so:



Have you noticed how the real originators in the guitar world change their name?

Link, Ry, God, mathematical guitar genius ...

As long as I'm wandering, does anyone ever do Jitterbug anymore, really? Say like Big Arthur Mathews kid Little? Hot Diggity Dog.


Social climber
Aug 15, 2012 - 09:31pm PT
It really doesn't matter if the Stones did country or not; I sure like all the music they did if and when they were just posin'; especially this one:

and this one

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 15, 2012 - 09:45pm PT
Hmm, they drink Coors...maybe they Are country?

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Aug 15, 2012 - 11:44pm PT
^and consume coke and whiskey too

not to mention blood tranfusions and dmt (not that guy, the other one)

i guess that's all that's left after the silver, gold, diamonds and time

and what could be more country than hell's angels and the devil and people get beat up with pool sticks and stabbed?

at 3:58 dogs got in free too, as long as they didn't piss off any angels (who whilst characterized as hardasses, were actually a very sensitive lot)

does that sound like a ry cooder riff?

mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
Aug 16, 2012 - 01:41am PT
One of my favorite Stones stories is the one from the start of Keith Richards' Life. He talks about "Southern hospitality" and reflects on rednecks. Country Honk's their best attempt, if you will call it such, at country.
You guys might could try reading Life to get the low down on some country types who played with them on occasion. Bobby Keys is from Texas, as always a good place to be "from."
There's too many country groups who are way better than the old fossils, so who really would care if they put out a Sweetheart of the Rodeo of their own? Keith can do pretty much anything he wants and it's OK by me.

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Aug 16, 2012 - 02:07am PT
stones are the weakest of weak sauce

they play country worse than they play American blues, which is almost unimaginable

Captain...or Skully

Aug 16, 2012 - 02:22am PT
I liked the girl with faraway eyes

It's Country, man. Damn sure ain't Western.

Social climber
Aug 16, 2012 - 09:29am PT
I noticed the Coors can also. When that photo was taken you couldn't buy Coors anywhere east of the Mississippi or a line farther west. BITD, when living in New Orleans people would go snow skiing at Christmas and return with a trunk load of Coors. Being a rare commodity they would sell it for a premium and pay for the trip.

You were pretty hip if you had Coors in your icebox. I preferred the taste of Dixie to Coors; the toxins in the water down there added a certain bite to the brew. I forget how many un-kown toxins there were in the Mighty Mississippi at the time; but the # 193 sticks in my mind.

At least the photo proves the Stones were in-country.
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