I first learned about The Byrds and Gram Parsons because of alt.country. My very first encounter with Parsons was a tribute album, Return Of The Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons (1999), featuring alt.country types and others (Wilco, Whiskeytown, Gillian Welch, Beck, David Crosby, etc.).*
My favorite tracks on that album are (other than all of them. seriously.) “Sin City” by Emmylou Harris and Beck, “$1000 Wedding” by Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield, “Return of the Grievous Angel” by Lucinda Williams and David Crosby, and a lovely Gillian Welch-y “Hickory Wind,” appropriately by Gillian Welch.
After this album, I acquired a few Gram Parsons recordings, including The Byrds’ “classic country” album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968). I like this album. I don’t love it, but it’s fun to listen to every now and then. Initially, the track that spoke to me the most (in a positive way) was the cover of the song, “You’re Still on My Mind.” George Jones released this song in 1964, however, it was originally written and recorded by Luke McDaniel (who also recorded as Jeff Daniels) in 1959. Freakwater also covered the song on their album, Dancing Underwater (1997).
So here we have a bounty of “You’re Still on My Mind”… The George Jones version has a lot of sliding fiddle, but no actual guitar slides, and is the slowest and saddest of the bunch. The Byrds version on the album has a fun piano part, but the only version I could find unfortunately doesn’t have the piano on it. It does, however, have some twangy guitar. The Freakwater version features the pedal steel, and in my opinion, is the most fun of these versions. Enjoy!
Finally, if you’re interested in hearing the original version of the song as recorded by Jeff Daniels/Luke McDaniel…
*There’s a great deal to be said about Gram Parsons and alt.country, the way that alt.country embraced him, and how his version of “country” was an acceptably “cool” version of country, but maybe we’ll get around to that later around here.