On January 13, 1969, Capitol Records released “Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass” by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. The waltz-tempo song featured a Don Rich solo that’s now considered an early example of fuzztone guitar in country music. Given that a 1965 issue of Music City News had carried a paid ad from Buck entitled “Pledge To Country Music,” beginning with the vow “I Shall Sing No Song That Is Not A Country Song,” the nod to psychedelia did not sit well with everyone. For instance, Buckaroos bandmates Tom Brumley and Ken Nelson privately expressed doubts about Owens’ stylistic experimentation. Decades later, as I read the liner notes to The Very Best of Buck Owens, Volume One, I was stunned to see that Owens felt compelled to apologize to the Nashville establishment for the single (though I can find no proof of that statement right now–if anyone can, please let me know). There are some celeste-style effects in the song that echo the Beatles’ “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” and I suspect that may have rankled the country establishment even more. Even so, the song reached #1 on the US and Canadian country charts.
I just learned that Don Rich hailed from Olympia, Washington. Perhaps Rich and his genre-bending inspired Calvin Johnson and his K Records brethren somehow. Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch. On the other hand, Johnson once burst into “Put ‘Em Back The Way They Was” from the L’il Abner musical at a show in Santa Cruz (to my extreme delight), so stranger things have happened.
At any rate, “Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass” still is amazing: