“She made me feel unwanted”

Gram Parsons and the International Submarine Band – “Millers Cave” from Safe at Home [1968]

If you need proof that Gram Parsons invented country rock, look no further than this Cowboy Jack Clement cover from GP’s one and only LP with the ISB. Indeed, the whole album has a killer shuffle that never breaks down and, more importantly, never betrays its roots (love that twinkling piano). Special credit is due drummer Jon Corneal and future Parsons collaborator Chris Ethridge on bass.

While GP’s songwriting and vocal performances aren’t nearly as pained or expressive as later recordings with the Byrds, Burritos, and by himself, Safe at Home confirms that his winning streak began very early on.

Parsons lived only five years after the release of this album.  I have been thinking about how premature deaths in music (and art generally) add to the myth of greatness.  Is it truly “better to burn out than to fade away” as my man Neil Young puts it?  Please weigh in.

Stay Safe at Home

also, check out the excellent Parsons documentary

Posted by Jordy

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7 Comments

Filed under 1960s, Country, Rock

7 responses to ““She made me feel unwanted”

  1. Neil Cake

    Except in a very few cases, it probably is better to burn out than to fade away. A notable exception being Neil Young himself, though I’m sure that during the 80s many were wishing he had burnt out. Of course, every case is a matter of opinion.

    I was just thinking about the Guns N’ Roses album, cos until it came out it was like Axl had ‘burned out’. Now that he’s back, I kinda wish he had…

  2. Burning out makes a better story, and it’s hard to resist the pull of myth. Myth adds poignancy–that’s why it’s tough to keep it together when “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” off the Nirvana MTV Unplugged Whenever Wherever, comes on the ol’ hi-fi.

    One might make the suffering-artist argument: that those who burn out tend to be big-time sufferers (drug addicted, depressed, suicidal, etc., etc.), and that suffering creates great art. Really, that’s true, to a certain extent.

    But I really find a more inspiring spirit in the fellows who faded away–or walked willingly into the background. Mingus, Nick Cave, Dylan, Radiohead, the Sea and Cake, the Dead, to name a few recent SWR subjects. Though that doesn’t mean I don’t love Coltrane or Hank–but I’m more interested in how folks keep it together and make a career out of creation. (Maybe that’s because I’m hoping to follow suit.) And it’s not like Mingus or Nick Cave or Miles or any of these long-lived folks didn’t experience incredible suffering.

    I would be willing to bet that many of us idolize those who make great art. But it’s unhealthy to obsess over someone else’s pain, and, besides, nobody who doesn’t want to listen to Trans doesn’t have to.

  3. Pingback: “If you had your way, I’d have a lobotomy” « So Well Remembered

  4. Adam Bailey

    Jordy, have you seen the “Heartworn Highways” documentary? I just acquired it this week and plan on watching it over the weekend.

  5. Jordy

    No, but I’ll check it out. There is a good documentary on Townes Van Zandt called “Be Here to Love Me” that probably has a similar tenor albeit more specific.

  6. Pingback: On John Coltrane and “Burning Out” « So Well Remembered

  7. Pingback: Advice: From Ex-mentors to Future Nobodies «

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