Sunday, October 24, 2010

Late Greats: Gram Theft Parsons

Amongst my favorite country singers, the late-great Gram Parsons also happens to be the musician most influential in getting me back into country music.  His multiple projects are a separate entity of country in themselves.  With subsequent albums, the honesty and truth he conveyed in his lyrics even at an early age, continued to expand. 
After leaving Harvard early, Parsons began the International Submarine Band in 1966, and produced the debut album, Safe At Home.  This album forged Parsons classic sound and payed tribute to six country classics.

International Submarine Band - Luxury Liner
Whiskeytown - Luxury Liner (cover)

After touring this album for a short time, Parsons joined the ashes of the earliest Byrds lineup and collaborated with them on the 1968 album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo.  Although The Notorious Byrd Brothers is certainly my favorite Byrds album, Sweetheart is a staple in their discography and arguably the first alt-country album.  It moved far away from the original psychedelic-drenched sound of the Byrds and moved towards a twangier, traditional sound.  Gram Parsons completely revolutionized the Byrds' sound.

The Byrds - The Christian Life

After his stint in the Byrds, Parsons moved towards a group that allowed him a significant increase in creative control.  In what has become my favorite Parson's material, The Flying Burrito Brothers crafted songs with a fine mixture of traditional country and folk and rock n roll, soul, and gospel.  Their debut album, The Gilded Palace of Sin, has become one of my favorite country albums.

The Flying Burrito Brothers - Long, Black Limousine

Four months after his death due to a drug overdose in Joshua Tree, his enormously influential career came to a peak with his solo album, Grievous Angel.  Parson dubbed his style, "Cosmic American Music", and I think this is best exemplified in this solo album. 

Gram Parsons - Hickory Wind


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