Sweetheart of the Rodeo: Alt-Country Rosetta Stone
I had completed a post with my top ten all-time "alt-country" selections (with a full complement of runners up, too!). Then I somehow hit a mystery delete mechanism, and poof. Until I can re-post, let's just start with The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968), possibly the first, and maybe still the greatest, alt-country/country-rock record. This is when Gram Parsons joined The Byrds and helped steer them away from folk-rock into some truly deep and affecting country sounds, mixing originals such as "Hickory Wind" with songs from Dylan, the Louvin Brothers. Merle Haggard, Woody Guthrie and more. Could they really have meant this in 1968, the height of hippie? Was the record at times a tad ironic? Yes, and maybe. But, ultimately, Sweetheart is a thing of marvelous beauty.
Read about Sweetheart at AllMusic.com.