"Hickory Wind" is a song written by country rock pioneer Gram Parsons and former International Submarine Band member Bob Buchanan. The song was written on a train ride the pair took from Florida to Los Angeles in early 1968, and first appeared on The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo album. Despite Buchanan's input, "Hickory Wind" is generally considered to be Parsons' signature song. Parsons' decision to play "Hickory Wind" instead of the planned Merle Haggard cover "Life in Prison" during The Byrds' performance at the Grand Ole Opry on March 15, 1968 "pissed off the country music establishment" and stunned Opry regulars to such an extent that the song is now considered essential to Parsons' legend.
Johnny Rogan, in his book The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited, offers the following interpretation for the song: "The alluring 'Hickory Wind' serves as a powerful image for Parsons' bittersweet nostalgia, as he imagines an Edenic childhood of simple pleasures like climbing trees. During successive verses, he reflects on the pursuit of fame, the curse of wealth without spiritual satisfaction, and the perils of city life. What really makes the song, however, is Parsons' aching vocal...