Top 10 Flying Burrito Brothers Songs

Flying Burrito Brothers Songs

Our selection of the top 10 songs by The Flying Burrito Brothers offers a fresh look at an iconic American band, renowned for its pivotal role in shaping the 1970s country-rock scene. In the late 1960s, Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons, both alumni of The Byrds, joined forces to establish the band, enlisting Pete Kleinow and Chris Ethridge to complete the original lineup. The formation of The Flying Burrito Brothers was unique, emerging from resolving previous conflicts among members during their time with The Byrds. Despite the initial tensions and mistrust, the group was united by their passion for music, culminating in the creation of their debut album, The Gilded Palace of Sin. Released in 1969, the album was lauded for its innovative fusion of soul, classic, and psychedelic rock, eventually climbing to number 164 on the Billboard chart.

However, the path to success was fraught with challenges for The Flying Burrito Brothers. The band struggled with personal conduct issues, notably during a train tour marred by substance abuse. Discontented with the band’s gradual rise and the failure to blend his preferred R&B and groove elements, Ethridge departed. Following unsuccessful tours and album releases, the band faced significant setbacks, eventually rebranding as a traditional country act. Despite numerous attempts to break through in the music industry, The Flying Burrito Brothers disbanded, although various group iterations have surfaced since 1974. Despite the turbulent journey, the enduring legacy of The Flying Burrito Brothers’ top 10 songs continues to affirm their esteemed status among fans.

# 10 – Lazy Day

We open up our top 10 Flying Burrito Brothers songs list with the great rock and roll tune “Lazy Day.” The song was released on the band’s album Burrito Deluxe. It would become Gram Parsons’ last album with the band. The album was released in 1970. There is something about the groove of the song that reminds me of the Beatle’s “I Saw Her Standing There” meets Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven.” The kicking track “Lazy Day” was the opening track on the album. The musicians in the band on the album included Gram Parsons on vocals, guitar, and piano. Chris Hillman on vocals, bass, and mandolin. Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel guitar, Bernie Leadon on guitar and Dobro, and Michael Clarke on drums.

# 9 – Juanita

“Juanita,” penned by Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, stands out as a notable track from their debut album, The Gilded Palace of Sin. Through its lyrics, the song narrates the poignant tale of a man abandoned by a deeply cherished woman. In the aftermath, he succumbs to a self-destructive spiral of drug and alcohol use, attempting to dull the ache in his heart. Amidst these dark times, a figurative angel, represented here by another woman, enters his life, offering a beacon of hope against the backdrop of a love lost. Throughout this tumultuous period, the singer finds himself at a loss for words, repeatedly seeking guidance from his mother on how to express his tumultuous feelings.

# 8 – Wind And Rain

I’ve always had a particular fondness for this song, considering it the standout track on the band’s album Flying Again.  The song Wind And Rain was composed by Gene Parsons and Gib Guilbeau. The Flying Again album, the group’s fourth studio release, came out in 1975. Interest in the band’s work saw a resurgence following the death of Gram Parsons in 1973.

In response to interest from various clubs, original members “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow and Chris Ethridge decided to reunite the Burritos. They added Gene Parsons, previously a drummer with The Byrds, Joel Scott Hill, a guitarist from Canned Heat, and fiddler Gib Guilbeau to their ranks, forming what could be called the “refried” Burritos. This new formation led to a contract with Columbia Records, with Flying Again marking their first release under this label.

#7 – Colorado

In the early months of 1971, The Flying Burrito Bros emerged as the third studio venture of the country rock pioneers, The Flying Burrito Brothers. This period in the band’s history was marked by significant transformation, beginning with Chris Hillman’s decision to part ways with Gram Parsons, a key figure in the band’s early sound. With Parsons’ departure, the band’s core now rested on the shoulders of Hillman and “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow. Into this reshuffled lineup stepped Rick Roberts, a relatively unknown talent at the time, who would later carve out a notable career as the lead voice of Firefall.

Around the release of this album, Bernie Leadon, the band’s guitarist, also decided to exit, eventually helping to form the legendary group, the Eagles. This album thus stands as a crossroads, featuring the collaborative efforts of Rick Roberts, lending his vocals and rhythm guitar; Chris Hillman, blending vocals with the bass; “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow, weaving sounds with his pedal steel guitar; Bernie Leadon, contributing through vocals, lead electric and acoustic guitars, and banjo; and Michael Clarke, anchoring the rhythm with his drums. This ensemble effort encapsulated a transitional but creatively rich phase for the band. “Colorado” stands as one of the album’s finest songs.

#6 – Dark End Of The Street

“Dark End of the Street,” a track on the Flying Burrito Brothers’ iconic album from February 6, 1969, is a cover of a soulful classic originally penned by Dan Penn and Chips Moman in 1967. First brought to life by James Carr, the song not only became his signature piece but also a significant hit, climbing to number 10 on Billboard Magazine’s R&B Chart and making its way to number 77 on the Billboard Hot 100. Besides the Flying Burrito Brothers’ brilliant cover version of the song, other notable covers include Aretha Franklin’s interpretation, featured on her 1970 album This Girl’s in Love with You.

#5 – Wild Horses

You probably know this one, but what you may not know is that the Flying Burrito Brothers recorded and released this song before the Rolling Stones released it. The song was featured as the final track on the Flying Burrito Brothers’ album Burrito Deluxe. Of course, the song was eventually released by The Rolling Stones. They subsequently recorded it on the album Sticky Fingers, which was released in 1971. 

#4 – Wheels

This is one of those songs that helps define how special this band was for a very brief time period. Some of the songs like this one that were penned by Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman were among the best the band ever released. The song “Wheels” was the opening track on side two of the band’s legendary album The Gilded Palace of Sin. 

#3 – Sin City

Number 3 on our top 10 The Flying Burrito Brothers songs list is “Sin City,” from the band’s album of the same title recorded in 1976. Inspired by Chris Hillman’s observation that “This old town’s filled with sin, it’ll swallow you in,” the song captures the essence of disillusionment with urban decay. The Flying Burrito Brothers harmonize in a style reminiscent of a world-weary Everly Brothers, lending the track a poignant depth. “Sin City” emerged as one of the band’s signature hits, leaving a lasting mark on the country-rock genre.

#2 – Christine’s Tune

Featured on the band’s debut album, “Christine’s Tune” stands out as one of the band’s memorable songs. The song revolves around Miss Christine, a renowned LA groupie and one of the members associated with Frank Zappa. Inspired by Christine’s tumultuous relationship with Chris Hillman that turned sour, “Christine’s Tune” reflects the bitterness Hillman felt post-breakup, as evident in the song’s lyrics.

#1 – Hot Burrito 1

“Hot Burrito #1” stands out as the quintessential track from The Flying Burrito Brothers, featured on their 1969 debut album, The Gilded Palace of Sin. Penned by Gram Parsons, the song delves into the emotional turmoil of a breakup with his girlfriend Nancy, with whom he had a daughter. Through the lyrics, Parsons candidly expresses his inability to bear the thought of his former partner being with someone else. This heartfelt confession helped propel “Hot Burrito #1” to become a cornerstone in The Flying Burrito Brothers’ repertoire, significantly contributing to the critical acclaim the band received upon the album’s release.

Feature Photo: A&M Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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