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Friday, 6 May 2016

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 127 - Gram Parsons

The story of Gram Parsons has been told aplenty down through the years and I won't really go into any great details today about it. There's a good article on The Sound Floor Website called Gram Parsons: The Birth of Cosmic American Music that's worth having a read to refresh your memory of that story.

If Parsons had secretly been hoping to join the Rolling Stones his presence was deemed a bit distracting and was asked to leave Villa Nellcรดte when the Stones were recording Exile On Main Street. Apparently he was daily incapicitated due to drugs and was constantly bickering with his then girlfriend and was politely asked to leave.

He had already been sent packing by The Flying Burito Brothers due to his drug issues and so it seemed like the only thing left for him was to go solo. He did return to the US to play a final show with the Buritos and Chris Hillman encouraged him to go and hear an unknown singer called Emmylou Harris in a small club in Washington D.C. Within the space of a year he had invited her to join him in Los Angeles to attempt to record a debut solo record.

In the BBC documentary Beyond Nashville Emmylou Harris recalls, "I would say until I had met Gram and started working with him I didn't really understand or have a real love or feel for country music. Like most of my generation, you know, country music was politically incorrect for us at that point. It was associated with Republicans and Right Wing and that sort of thing. He taught me the beauty and the poetry, the simplicity, the honesty in the music. And the love of harmony came from really singing with him."

It was a wonder that the album got made at all as there were still issues related to Parsons drug taking and alcoholism but possibly with Harris's encouragement he got his act together as he realised he might be blowing a big chance. It wouldn't be the last time that Harris would have influence either as when the tour for the album came around it looked like a disaster awaited as the rehearsals had fallen into wild parties etc and it was Harris who challenged the band to practise and even the live shows were often rescued by her presence.

The tour didn't aid in album sales as GP failed to chart.

The second solo album, Grevious Angel, was recorded during the summer of 1973 but was only released in January 1974, four months after the death of Gram Parsons on 19th September 1973, aged 26.

Allan Jones of Melody Maker wrote, "Both GP and Grievous Angel need no analysis. There are no words to describe the sense of desperation and the haunting quality of these last works. They just need to be listened to." I haven't always agreed with a lot of stuff that Mr Jones has written but on this I'm in perfect agreement.

GP (1973)

Grievous Angel (1974)

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!
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