Country rock pioneer primo work
rash67 | USA | 04/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember driving to work one day when Da Nez's cover of Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers song "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" came on the underground radio station with its' superecho, distorted begining. It was so strange, so heavy, I had to pull the car over. When I finally realized what song he was playing I was in stitches. I listen to the whole thing (and got to work late).
"Well, I reached in my pocket and I pulled out the Omega
that was never one second behind.
I knew the horse that I was running at the Southern Talledaga
had won for the twentysecond time..." (He has an Omega, just like James Bond!)
Sure I knew his goofy face on the silly Monkees show and I knew Listen to the Band, but when I bought this LP, it caused a whole reappraisal of his stuff. Esp Nevada Fighter, there's not a bad cut on the album, well sung, esp tuneful, hearfelt lyrics. He's smart and he's clever, with a marvellous sense of humour. A Sartre French Existentialist idea like "Running from Le Grand Ennui" was NOT a topic in most country songs of the era - a tongue-in-cheek intellectual Nez joke in great song. He became a favorite I have listened to for decades. And while I like country rock, I have little tolerance for country, at least the country music around in 1971.
I have gone back and bought all of his stuff from the Monkees onward. In retrospect, I think I like his country rock work more than the better known Byrds - generally thought of as the first country rockers with Sweetheart of the Rodeo (no letters please!). And he really was there at the begining of country rock ('68) as a primary influence as much as Gram Parsons. He wrote "Different Drum" and "Some of Shelly Blues" for the then unknown Linda Ronstadt gee, maybe 68-69? And his pedal steel guy, the late Red Rhodes, sounded like he played that difficult instrument forward, backward, rightside up, upside down, and took stock country music licks and completely turned them on their ear.
Of all his records, I still listen to Nevada Fighter most. (The title of his song "Propinquity" comes from a character Zelda Gilroy in a late 50's TV show the "Many Loves Of Dobie Gilles", the dwarf Zelda felt Dobie would fall in love with her if she hung around all the time, but that's a different subject). Many of Nesmiths songs deal with love, but he really brings consistently fresh perspectives to this overdone subject.
Why Da Nez isn't better known I have no idea!