The Great Songs: The Flying Burrito Brothers – Hot Burrito #1

by Eric Melin on June 1, 2010

in Columns,The Great Songs

After joining The Byrds for one legendary album in 1967 (“Sweetheart of the Rodeo”) and singlehandedly turning them into a country band (the first major rock act to do so), restless singer/songwriter Gram Parsons moved on.

He quit The Byrds, took Byrds member Chris Hillman with him and formed The Flying Burrito Brothers.

gilded palace of sinWhen I first heard the band’s name I thought it was a joke. Now I consider the band’s 1969 debut album “The Gilded Palace of Sin” to be one of the greatest country albums ever recorded. If you were to remove the last track (a novelty number with its heart in the right place but unlistenable after the first time), this album would be perfect in every way.

The song that stands out the most on this album has a title almost as silly as the name of the band: “Hot Burrito #1.” (It’s so silly that when Elvis Costello covered it on “Almost Blue”,” he changed the title to “I’m Your Toy.”)

With Parsons, bassist Chris Ethridge co-wrote the heartbreaking “Hot Burrito #1” and “Hot Burrito #2” (the latter being a more uptempo romp, covered by Dinosaur Jr. at one point) as well. Listen to it now. The melodic pedal steel guitar from “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow is just sublime, but it’s Parsons’ impassioned vocal delivery that sells the tune.

Ethridge said of Parsons, “He had a soulful, almost ‘help me’ voice. He had a voice that when he would sing it was almost like he was asking for help…” Listen to the tune again and hear that fragile and imperfect voice crack a couple of times.

Listen one more time and pay attention to the insightful lyrics. Gram also had a penchant for cutting through the bullshit. He’s heartbroken and bitter. She’s moved on and it’s not fair. But that sounds petty as described just now

The opening line says it way better: “You may be sweet and nice, but that won’t keep you warm at night/’Cause I’m the one who showed you how to do the things you’re doing now.”

The Great Songs: Big Star – Thirteen

The Great Songs: The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset

The Great Songs: The Jayhawks – Blue

The Great Songs: Pavement – Summer Babe

The Great Songs: The Zombies – Care of Cell 44

The Great Songs: The O’Jays – Back Stabbers

The Great Songs: Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure

The Great Songs: George Jones – He Stopped Loving Her Today

The Great Songs: Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

The Great Songs: KISS – Deuce

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Slummy June 2, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Often forgotten is that Gene Clark a Greater Kansas Citian was a founding member of The Byrds. Lived in and graduated highschool from Bonner Springs.

Reply

2 Slummy June 2, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Often forgotten is that Gene Clark a Greater Kansas Citian was a founding member of The Byrds. Lived in and graduated highschool from Bonner Springs.

Reply

3 Slummy June 2, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Often forgotten is that Gene Clark a Greater Kansas Citian was a founding member of The Byrds. Lived in and graduated highschool from Bonner Springs.

Reply

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