Truckers, Kickers and Cowboy Angels CD-Album-Series by Bear Family
Truckers, Kickers, Cowboy Angels
The Blissed-Out Birth of Country Rock 1966-1975
On January 12, 1970, Time magazine placed The Band on its cover with the headline, “The New Sound of Country Rock". In the taxonomy of popular music, Country Rock was now a thing, a category by 1970. There were Country Rock browser bins in some stores, and trade magazines like Billboard routinely classified records as country-rock or country/rock, expecting the readership to know what they meant. A category as vague and fissiparous as Country Rock can be defined narrowly or broadly. We’ve focused on rock musicians who embraced the concision, narrative drive, melodicism, and folk roots of country music. But we’ve also included a few country artists who reached out the other way. Ever since Bob Dylan began recording in Nashville in 1966, there had been a steady trek of rock musicians there. Taking their cue from Dylan, a new breed of country songwriters. Led by John Hartford, Mickey Newbury, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson, began writing songs that dared to stray from the I-IV-V chord norm. A scene coalesced around them, attracting guys like Donnie Fritts, Billy Joe Shaver, and Tony Joe White.
The New Sound of Country Rock
Before long, established country artists like Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash began to think about not making records the way Nashville liked to make them. Whether from Nashville, Los Angeles, or someplace else, country rock was enough of a category by 1970; to attract artists who often understood neither country nor rock. We tried to avoid bandwagon jumpers to focus on those who brought an original slant to the music. Licensing can be a problem with compilations like this. Artists as well-known as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Creedence Clearwater Revival were unavailable to us, alongside inexplicable denials like Rig. Some artists like Shiloh were on labels that have fallen into a contractual black hole. So if a recording that seems to belong here is missing, there’s probably a clause in an aging contract explaining that. Even so, there’s still plenty to love on the road to 1975. Colin Escott Nashville, October 2014.
Robert Hunter, lyricist for the Grateful Dead
“There was a shared sense of direction that was in tune with the times. The Band, the Byrds, Poco, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Dylan were all exploring traditional music augmented by the power of rock ‘n’ roll. Psychedelia had had its moment and we were continuing to evolve what we believed to be the logical next step in American music.” (Robert Hunter, lyricist for the Grateful Dead).