The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Guilded Palace of Sin

The Gilded Palace of Sin isn’t strictly a country rock record. But when Parsons chose to mix the country with whatever else, he did it so well that it drew the ire of the Nashville establishment who felt that Parson’s music was a stain on the wholesomeness of pure country music. A sort of hippie invasion, if you will. Looking back, it’s funny to think about. Not only Nashville’s revulsion at Parson as an unsavory character—because there were no unsavory characters in country music—but also because country rock and country pop now dominate a large section of the consumer music market. That sort of genre blending, the country aesthetic mixed with dance beats or rock riffs, is a flower off the tree of Parson’s Cosmic American Music. Although I’m not so sure he would be happy with the dumb-downed legacy that is the current state of country music. American it is. Cosmic it is not.
Counterbalance No. 153: Flying Burrito Brothers’ ‘The Gilded Palace of Sin’ by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

The Guilded Palace of Sin remains for me, after forty-six years, one of my favorite pop records of all time, certainly in the top five.

I put the following compact disc in my car player and listened to it twice.


The hook for me, once again, was Sneaky Pete Kleinow’s pedal steel magic. His playing reinforces my own sense that The Burrito Brothers were a psychedelic country band, with Sneaky’s shapeshifting steel fronting the lead guitar aesthetic with its leaps between swirly chorus-effect and bandsaw fuzz.

Plus, marvels of lip-synch and stand-up pedal steel.

Sneaky Pete also anchored The Flying Burrito Brothers on tour.
Calgary, August 1970

There are some fine audio-only concerts from 1970 on youtube.

Seattle Pop Festival – July 27, 1969

December 6, 1970 – Lyceum Ballroom – London, England

Byrds – 8 Miles High

I switched schools in the fall of 1969 and started my 10th grade year at an all man-boys’ (!) private school on the far east side of Cleveland. Previously, under the influence of my older cousin with whom I vacationed during the summers of ’68 and ’69, I began to support my naive responses to the incredible music available during the first and only wave of underground radio.

I didn’t have any way to really frame my attractions. After all, in 1967, the music I enjoyed that year was: The Monkees! Still, during 9th grade, and before any ganja haze had rolled in, the little clicque I was a party to was heavy into The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, James Taylor, and Judy Collins, and a few others. Also, during the spring of 9th grade, Taj Mahal and Bonnie Raitt spent a day at my junior high. Then our class got comped to a show with Taj, Bonnie, and Pacific Gas & Electric, at the local YMCA.

My twin brother was altogether worldly in his more developed tastes. His tastes counted for a lot too: if he liked something, I rejected it! Among the things I rejected were The Moody Blues, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and, Led Zeppelin. When I arrived at private school, my musical touchstones were few. If I remember these correctly, my favored music was the first Blood, Sweat & Tears record, The Blues Project, Al Kooper’s Super Session, Judy Collins, The Beatles, and, oddly enough, Flatt & Scruggs.

When I fell in with the amazing Dynamo Man, Jamie, the fall of 10th grade, he pulled out Moby Grape’s debut LP, and it was the nexus for our first–of many many–listening sessions. Crucially, Jamie, (the son of one of the first chain record store impresarios,) pulled next out of the biggest record collection I had ever seen, a Byrds LP, The Notorious Byrd Brothers.
the band that first opened my ears of perception.

I was hooked.

I saw The Byrds a couple of times, once in 1970 and once toward the end of their classic quartet featuring Clarence White. The ’70 concert was a fire breathing affair. I believe it was the earlier concert at Oberlin, that Jamie, Tony, Steve, Mark, and me waited after the concert in a sleet storm to give the band their due. We stood by the tour bus to wait, and sure enough the Byrds eventually came out of the rear doorway of the gym. It would be accurate to say that McGuinn, Parsons, Battin, were gruff.

But not Clarence White, who received our accolades graciously and shook each of our hands.