New Riders of the Purple Sage
The Grateful Dead's country cousins New Riders of the Purple Sage embody the "cosmic American music" tag coined by their fellow California country-rocker Gram Parsons. The New Riders' 1971 debut album mated a hippie/stoner sensibility with a love of classic country music. The songs penned by bandleader John Dawson suggest a background steeped in the work of Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, et al, but the lyrics offer several subtle nods to the present. Jerry Garcia supplied sweet, swooping steel licks that occasionally (as on "Dirty Business") take on a semi-psychedelic feel, further enhancing the band's acid-honky-tonk vibe.