1968, Music

Safe at Home (1968) by International Submarine Band

This record invented country rock. As such, it’s one of the milestone records of the 1960s. (Country infected popular music in the 1970s and the country rock phenomenon of the late 1960s and early 1970s and Safe at Home is a big reason why.) But with the benefit of hindsight I am tempted to criticize the record a little more than I would normally criticize something so influential.

Normally I try my best to avoid using hindsight to judge something. Though it is obviously impossible, I try as much as I can to put myself in the place of listeners encountering music on the day the record came out, instead of 50 years later (or what have you). But I feel slightly justified in trying not to do that with this record simply because this record was not popular (and barely promoted). Though it invented the genre, nobody knew that. Sweetheart of the Rodeo came out a few months later and non-critics assumed that it invented country rock instead. I’m trying to rationalize that the Byrds’ popularity makes this record slightly less important.

I’m trying to do that because, frankly, Parsons got much better. This is like Gram Parsons the performer in utero. He lacks the dynamic voice he would have with the Burritos. (I’ve never heard the original Sweetheart of the Rodeo recordings with Parsons instead of McGuinn so I don’t know whether he had improved by then.) The recording quality is also not as good as those later records and so the dynamics of the band are less impressive.

I can’t say I love their version of “Folsom Prison Blues” either.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Parsons’ later music is significantly better.

But this record still invented a genre – it’s pioneering and it’s arguably more “rock” than what the Byrds did a little bit later. I just wish it was as good as the Burritos records or Parsons’ solo stuff.

9/10 for its importance

  1. “Blue Eyes” (Gram Parsons) – 2:50
  2. “I Must Be Somebody Else You’ve Known” (Merle Haggard) – 2:18
  3. “A Satisfied Mind” (Joe Hayes, Jack Rhodes) – 2:31
  4. “Medley: Folsom Prison Blues/That’s All Right, Mama” (Johnny Cash/Arthur Crudup) – 4:25
  5. “Miller’s Cave” (Jack Clement) – 2:49
  6. “I Still Miss Someone” (Johnny Cash, Roy Cash Jr.) – 2:47
  7. “Luxury Liner” (Gram Parsons) – 2:55
  8. “Strong Boy” (Gram Parsons) – 2:04
  9. “Do You Know How It Feels to Be Lonesome” (Gram Parsons, Barry Goldberg) – 3:36
  • Gram Parsons – lead vocal, rhythm guitar
  • Bob Buchanan – rhythm guitar, harmony vocal
  • Jon Corneal – drums, harmony vocal
  • John Nuese – lead guitar
  • Earl “Les” Ball – piano
  • Chris Ethridge – bass guitar
  • Suzi Jane Hokom – producer, harmony vocal on “Do You Know How It Feels to Be Lonesome”
  • Jay Dee Maness – pedal steel guitar
  • Joe Osborn – bass guitar on “Blue Eyes” and “Luxury Liner”

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