With the release of Hot Burritos: The True Story of the Flying Burrito Brothers by John Einarson and Chris Hillman, another door has opened on the history of what I call rhythm & blues-folk-country rock. This book contains 326 pages of music history and enlightenment. Hillman is recognized as one of the founders of the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers (FBB), Manassas, and The Desert Rose Band. His contribution to music is legendary.
Einarson has previously written Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of the Byrds’ Gene Clark; Desperadoes: The roots of Country Rock; For What It’s Worth: The Story of Buffalo Springfield; Neil Young: Don’t Be Denied and several other books on contemporary music.
Hot Burritos is a book that covers not just the FBB’s history but also the wind currents swirling around the band during its creation, life and demise. This is one of the first books to be critical of the myths and roles assigned to Gram Parsons. It’s also one of the first that places Roger McGuinn in a positive light. While much has been made of Parsons, more should be written about the involvement of McGuinn, Hillman, the Dillard Brothers, Young, Stephen Stills, Poco, and Rick Nelson & the Stone Canyon Band. They all shaped the special style of music that was to come.
This book is a continuation of Einarson’s look at how this hybrid music was forged. Sadly, too many people believe the era began with The Eagles; a small cog present (as Linda Rondstadt’s back-up musicians) at the creation of the “country rock” era. As this book delves into the music’s roots, we learn of great country bands and of the music of Bakersfield, California; a worthy rival to Nashville. All of this music was imprinted on the FBB and their progeny.
It’s sad to look back to see how alcohol and drug abuse negated the creative forces of so many musicians and song writers. And accidents that claimed the lives of some of the best… How would the music of Rick Nelson, Clarence White and/or Gene Clark have evolved if not for their untimely deaths?
It is hoped that Einarson will next explore the roles of Judy Collins, Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Linda Rondstadt, Emmy Lou Harris and other women who were also integral creators of this style of music. And, of course, would any of this have been possible without Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Elias McDaniel or Bob Dylan? “Hey, mister tambourine man, play a song for me…”.
Adapted and reprinted from the Troy Bear blog. This review was written by Ice B. on February 18, 2009.
Also recomended is Are You Ready for the Country: Elvis, Dylan, Parsons & the Roots of Country Music by Peter Doggett. John Einarson is currently working on a biography of the late Arthur Lee of the Los Angeles based band Love.