Call it what you will, I call country-rock great
We called it country-rock back in high school. Since then, it has been called everything from alternative country, Americana, alternative country rock and more.
It always has been my favorite style of music and if I had to choose one style of music to take to that proverbial desert island, it would be country-rock.
I spent my grade school years in the radio wasteland that is Gypsum in Eagle County. I think Glenwood Springs had the closest radio station in the mid- to late 1960s.
So the music I listened to was what my mom and dad had, and the records my friend’s teenage sisters owned. It was mostly pop, but I was exposed to the Beatles through my best friend’s sister.
When I would spend the night and his sisters would go out, we would get into their records. In addition to the Fab Four, I remember listening to the Kingston Trio, Glen Campbell, Petula Clark, the Monkees and Frank Sinatra.
We spent the summer of 1969 in Pueblo, where my dad was working, and where I got my first exposure to Top 40 radio with personalities in the form of disc jockeys.
We then moved to Grand Junction and that is where I started junior high school.
It was in eighth grade when I really started listening to country-rock. I had Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Déjà vu” and Bob Dylan’s “Greatest Hits,” which I considered to be country-rock at the time.
I also purchased the first Eagles album, but only after I learned there were three songs being played on the radio from it. That way, I thought it would be a good record and worth purchasing.
The first single from the album was “Take It Easy” co-written with Jackson Browne. “Witchy Woman” was the second single, a rock ‘n’ roll song about a haunting supernatural woman. “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” co-written with Jack Tempchin, was my favorite of the three singles and with its steel guitar the most “country” sounding.
After I went to Mazzuca’s and bought the album, I was playing it on mom and dad’s console stereo when my dad came home and, upon hearing “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” he remarked that it was not a rock ‘n’ roll song but a country song.
In fact, my favorite song from that record isn’t one of the singles, but Gene Clark and Bernie Leadon’s classic “Train Leaves Here This Morning,” which Leadon brought to the Eagles from his time with Dillard and Clark.
Dillard and Clark’s “Fantastic Expedition” is one of my favorite records of all and quite possibly the seminal country-rock recording.
My grandmother and one of my aunts had Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Buck Owens records that I listened to quite a bit while I was growing up. They definitely influenced my tastes.
After my freshman year of high school, I spent a summer in New Jersey and was listening to Poco’s first two records, as well as Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush.”
When I was a sophomore in high school, I went to a poster party for student elections and heard Pure Prairie League for the first time.
Other bands that I was turned on to in high school include the Band, Doobie Brothers, Grateful Dead, New Riders of The Purple Sage, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Dan Fogelberg, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, the Outlaws, the Marshall Tucker Band and others.
I still listen to all of those bands.