Lloyd Green & Jay Dee Maness: Journey to the Beginning – A Steel Guitar Tribute to the Byrds

Sweetheart of the Rodeo’s steel players reflect and pay tribute

The Byrds’ 1968 Sweetheart of the Rodeo wasn’t their first dance with country music, but it was their most full throated. The addition of Gram Parsons to the band’s lineup magnified the country music that had threaded through the Byrd’s earlier albums, and with Nashville ace Lloyd Green and Los Angeles player Jay Dee Maness contributing their steel guitar prowess, the group made its most powerful roots music statement. Now, on the album’s fiftieth anniversary, the steel wizards salute both the Byrds’ invention and their contribution to it by recreating the entire album as steel and fiddle-led instrumentals. And as a bonus, a reprise of the opening track, “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” is offered with superb, heartfelt vocals by Jim Lauderdale, Jeff Hanna, Richie Furay and Herb Pedersen. Recorded at Nashville’s Cinderella Sound (the oldest independent studio in town), the new arrangements largely stay true to the original melodies, but with steel guitars and fiddle taking lead, the mood is more languorous, and the twang pushes the songs of Charlie Louvin, Cindy Walker, Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons even further into the country domain. This isn’t meant to replace the iconic original album, but as a reflection on the turn it helped to usher in, and a musical conversation in steel between two of the original players, it’s a wonderful echo. [©2018 Hyperbolium]