The Byrds, 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo'
As you'd expect from a bunch of country-loving rock & rollers, the Byrds' country-rock masterpiece includes plenty of troubled-mind covers: a Merle Haggard prison song, a George Jones bender, a Woody Guthrie outlaw ballad. Less predictable are the gospel songs, played straight, and that lonesome paean to a lost homeplace, "Hickory Wind," an original from the set's legend-in-waiting guest star, Gram Parsons. But the album's secret weapon is Nashville Cat Lloyd Green, especially on Parsons' "One Hundred Years From Now," where his pedal steel adds the drama that launches each earnest, hippie chorus, then boot-scoots into a brief, crazy solo that makes you want to laugh and dance in the here and now. It's a pretty straight stretch of road from here to the sounds of later country hitmakers like Desert Rose Band and Midland.