The Gosdin Brothers (above), Clarence White (below)
Listen/Download – The Gosdin Brothers – Multiple Heartaches
Listen/Download – The Gosdin Brothers – The Sounds of Goodbye
Listen/Download – The Gosdin Brothers – The Victim
Welcome to a new week here at Iron Leg.
I hope that the summertime is treating you all well.
The names of the Gosdin Brothers (Rex and Vern) first floated into my orbit when I picked up the Edsel reissue of Gene Clark with the Godsin Brothers way back in the Ninteen-ought-eighties, back when things were different, coffee cost a nickel and if you had a waterproof match and dependable mule all was well (or something like that).
It was back in those days that I started to explore country rock, not in the long accepted Eagles/Marshall Tucker-y way that so many people framed the issue, but in the Bakersfield sneaks into the world of the longhairs and infects their music way.
One need only do a basic survey of West Coast pop and rock in the mid to late 60s and you start to see the dust from the boots of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard settling all over the place, on the records of the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, the Monkees, Hearts and Flowers, Gene Clark, Rick Nelson, Glen Campbell, Poco and many, many others.
It was only then that I realized that so much of the kind of country music I dug had come out of Bakersfield, California, and that there were many connections back and for the between there and LA during that period.
Back when I feature tracks from ‘Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers’ here at Iron Leg, my friend Duncan Walls suggested that I seek out a Gosdin Brothers collection called ‘The Sounds of Goodbye’.
I grabbed the disc forthwith, and my mind was good and truly blown.
There – wrapped in one tiny CD – was the missing link of sorts between the Sunset Strip longhairs and the hardcore country types. It was like listening to the ratio of influences inverted, with country seasoned by pop and rock instead of the other way around.
Southern California was a crucible during that period with those two influences being shifted back and forth by a wide variety of performers. Some of the push came from rockers (some in deep, some merely dabbling) with a sincere interest in mixing the two, some by younger country performers who – prepped by hitmakers like Buck Owens – came to the table with rock already part of their arsenal.
The Gosdin brothers, who had come from Alabama had been recording in Bakersfield under the aegis of Gary Paxton (on his Bakersfield International label). The brothers had played in the Hillmen with future-Byrd Chris Hillman., and later shared stages with the Byrds themselves.
While at Bakersfield International, the Gosdins recorded with a group known as the Reasons (later Nashville West).
That group featured Gene Parsons, Gig Gilbeau, Wayne Moore and a young, positively brilliant guitar player by the name of Clarence White.
Yes, that Clarence White, one of the greatest set of hands ever to pick up a guitar, later of the Byrds.
During the years 1967 and 1968, the Reasons worked as Gary Paxton’s house band, playing on a wide variety of recordings, including those of the Gosdin Brothers.
So, a few weeks back, following my wife’s visit to the doctor, I made a little stop to my vinyl oasis in Hackensack, NJ, hoping to perhaps grab a disco 45 or two.
Imagine my surprise when, while flipping through a stack of 45s, I should happen upon a Bakersfield International label, and the 45 turned out to be one of my favorite tunes from ‘The Sounds of Goodbye’, ‘Multiple Heartaches’!
Once the shock wore off, I trundled to the counter, paid for my finds and hit the road.
It was a little later that I dug up the other 45 you see here – ‘The Sounds of Goodbye’ b/w ‘The Victim’ – via the intertubes.
‘Multiple Heartaches’, which features Clarence White on dobro and lead guitar, is a classic bit of Bakersfield Sound wonderfulness, sounding as if it had popped up out of a Buck Owens session. Here you get the patented mixture of upbeat, contemporary country, with all of the pop touches (and production). The novelty angle of the lyrics is fun as well.
The other side of this 45 ‘Hangin’ On’ was a minor hit in the summer of 1967.
‘The Sounds of Goodbye’ – released on Capitol in September of 1968 and originally recorded by George Morgan, was written by (future country star) Eddie Rabbit and his partner Dick Heard (the team also wrote ‘Kentucky Rain’). The song, which went on to be recorded by both Charlie Louvin and OC Smith (among others) seems to be built on a similar frame to ‘Gentle On My Mind’ and has some very interesting chord changes.
The flipside, ‘The Victim’, written by the Gosdins, is a great, mellow lament with a very cool bit of psychedelic echo in the chorus.
All three songs are fantastic, and if you dig them you should definitely seek out the reissue of ‘The Sounds of Goodbye’, which features the entire 1968 album as well as many bonus tracks.
I hope you dig the tunes (and maybe dig a little deeper) and I’ll see you all next week.