“I headed out west to grow up with the country”

Gram Parsons – “Return of the Grievous Angel (remix)” from Sacred Hearts & Fallen Angels: The Gram Parsons Anthology (2001) [originally version on Grievous Angel (1973)]

Any Northern boy tryin’ to get into country eventually gets around to G. P. I must say that I’m slightly (and only slightly) underwhelmed by Gram Parsons’s solo work. The harmonies with Emmylou Harris are beautiful, but when G. P. is trying to go for the broken-home-George-Jones-type-song, as in “Kiss the Children” or “Brass Buttons,” he sounds like the trust-fund poser he was. Maybe my expectations are skewed. This song, though, is one of the best country tracks around, and in general Gram provides a good listen.

Get Gram here

Posted by Glenn

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7 Comments

Filed under 1970s, Country, Roots rock, Singer-Songwriter

7 responses to ““I headed out west to grow up with the country”

  1. Jordy

    I was similarly unimpressed with GP’s solo trip. It tilted a tad too close to James Taylor. But maybe I just miss the Burritos’ songwriting and energy.

  2. The first time I heard Still Feelin’ Blue I was wondering why the hell I bought his record. It was my first country. Sometimes the more you listen to something, the more you can see right through it. First impressions are important, but standing the test of time is tantamount. Is it worth repeated listening? Does it tire with familiarity? GP passes the test in my book. Is there something wrong with the SWL feed? it won’t update in my reader.

  3. Jordy

    Yeah. I’ll give it more time eventually. I’m convinced that GP at least deserves the consideration.

    My feed to Google Reader is working fine. Let me know if it continues to fail you.

    And Glenn: that’s a pretty sweet picture on this post. He looks bad. Like Keith Richards bad.

  4. I agree with you that the filler on the two solo albums is pretty unremarkable, but I judge Gram based on the times he hit the mark and not the filler. Return of the Grievous Angel is epic, as you note. Streets of Baltimore, She, New Soft Shoe, and $1,000 Wedding are, imo, all great songs. Coupled with his compositions from earlier projects (Luxury Liner, Do You Know How It Feels To Be Lonesome?, Hickory Wind, I’m Your Toy, Sin City, Wheels) and you are talking about a pretty accomplished career–especially for someone who only lived to be 27. So I’d say he rates better than poser, even if he did have a trust fund. (There’s got to be some substance there to come up with this stuff, right?) Anyway, if you make a compilation of the best tracks and give it some time, it will pay off.

    Love the site.

  5. glennlester

    Paul, I think there was surely “some substance there,” if you catch my, ah, drift…

    All jokes aside, I’m guilty of committing what I guess you’d call the biographical fallacy, the belief that requires a musician (or writer or artist) to have some personal tragedy or biographical incident backing up any art he creates. That’s just obviously false. Plus, GP’s life is full of the worst kinds of tragedy: suicide, alcoholism, etc.

    I like GP best when he’s singing something other than ‘straight’ country, like Hot Burritos No.s 1-2, Dark End of the Street, and all the songs previously mentioned. Still got my ears plugged in, though.

    The photo came from a jugband player/photographer, name of Humbead. Check out more photos here:
    http://www.humbead.com/skyriver/

  6. minor correction to number 6, supra: I’m not a player, just a photographer. Been around jugbands since Jim Kweskin was running hoots at the Yana, as he was setting up his jug band, though, circa 1963.

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