Chris Ethridge, bassist and founding member of the Flying Burrito Brothers passed away earlier this week in Mississippi. Ethridge was a long-time collaborator with Gram Parsons, also playing with Parsons in the International Submarine Band and co-writing some of Parson’s solo songs. While with the Flying Burrito Brothers, Ethridge played on Gilded Palace of Sin (1969), an album Rolling Stone magazine lists as one of the top 200 albums of all time. He also co-wrote “Hot Burrito #1 (I’m Your Toy),” a song we previously discussed on Chimesfreedom. In this performance of “Christine’s Tune (Devil in Disguise),” you may see Ethridge playing bass in the background (with a black beard wearing a Nudie suit).
Ethridge also played as a session musician later in his career, playing with such artists as Ry Cooder, Randy Newman, Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds, and Jackson Browne. He also toured with Willie Nelson for eight years. Ethridge learned he had pancreatic cancer in September. He was 65. RIP.
What is your favorite Flying Burrito Brother song? Leave your two cents in the comments.
Gram Parsons (1946-1973) created a lot of great music in his short life. His work as a solo artist and with bands such as The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers greatly influenced the country-rock and alt-country movements. He helped Emmylou Harris start her career. He was friends with Keith Richards and supposedly influenced some of the music made by the Rolling Stones. And he helped create the wonderful strangely named song “Hot Burrito #1.”
“Hot Burrito #1” appeared on the Flying Burrito Brothers Gilded Palace of Sin (1969) album. It was written by Parsons and the band’s bass player Chris Ethridge.
“Hot Burrito #1” is a great song with a horrible name. The song, of course, has nothing to do with burritos, and the band’s use of the word “burrito” was not limited to the one song. The band liked to play around with the “burrito” theme, naming their next album Burrito Deluxe. And yes, there is a “Hot Burrito #2.”
Elvis Costello recorded the song, but apparently he did not like the name so he renamed it, “I’m Your Toy.” Even though “Hot Burrito #1” is an odd name for a song, “I’m Your Toy” is not really better. Similarly, Jose Feliciano renamed the song with the forgettable title, “Not That Kind of Guy.”
One sign of the greatness of the song and the melody from Chris Ethridge is that it holds up well no matter who sings it. But it is especially powerful in the Parsons version.
The song starts out with the singer speaking to a former lover, telling her how she will miss him (“You may be sweet and nice / But that won’t keep you warm at night”). Then slowly you begin to hear the aching desperation in the singer’s voice and in the lyrics (“But I don’t want no one but you / To love me, no I wouldn’t lie”).
The A Side
Interestingly, even though we know “Hot Burrito #1” as a classic song, it was not released as a single, only appearing as the B side of the only single at the time, the less memorable “The Train Song.” “The Train Song” was recorded after The Gilded Palace of Sin was completed but released as a single.
While numerous cover versions of “Hot Burrito #1” are now on YouTube, the A side is not available there at all (you may hear a clip of The Train Song on Amazon). It just goes to show that you cannot judge a song by its initial release, or by its name.
Do you like the song? What is your favorite great song with a bad name? What other songs have cover artists renamed? Drop a comment.