Album #326 – Grievous Angel

Album #326

Gram Parsons is probably my favorite country artist. Yet, he is as far from country as you can get. He grew up in Florida, ended up living in California and played in The International Submarine Band before joining the Byrds during their country rock phase. Their album Sweetheart of the Rodeo and his next band, The Flying Burrito Brothers’ album Gilded Palace of Sin are the two Parsons efforts that I have already listened to on the list. Gilded Palace of Sin is one of my favorite albums of all time. Grievous Angel follows close behind. Parsons is a pioneer of country rock yet, many do not know about this amazing singer, songwriter and musician. Many in the country world of Nashville would tell you Parsons is NOT country at all. I respectfully disagree. Parsons created the template for the current Alt-Country and Americana movement and unlike the Eagles, made Country accessible to rock musicians and audiences. Somehow, the Eagles ended up doing more harm than good. Grievous Angel was released four months after his death. In fact, this album was supposed to be a Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris album but, Parsons’ widow disliked Harris’ involvement so much that she changed the running order, billing and album’s artwork. Despite this, Harris still is an integral part of this album, singing backing vocals on nearly all the album’s tracks. Other guests on Grievous Angel include members of Elvis’ Hot Band, the Eagles Bernie Leadon (how ironic), and Linda Ronstadt, who does backing vocals with Emmy on In My Hour of Darkness. I love this album because Parsons embodies what country music should be: good songwriting and real emotion. Parsons doesn’t sing with a twang but, just like George Jones, you can tell he means every word. Emmylou Harris and Parsons’ voices click so well and hearing them sing Love Hurts together gives me chills. The emotion that they have makes Grievous Angel stand out. One of my favorite parts  was during Cash On The Barrellhead and Hickory Wind. You can hear the beer bottles smashing against the barbed wire as a sign of appreciation. This proves that Parsons’ songs work in a country setting. Clearly, he wanted to be accepted in country music somehow. It’s just a shame that he couldn’t live to see just how much of an impact his music has had. The Americana and Alt-Country movement owes a great debt to Parsons and his Cosmic American Music. Other highlights include: Return of the Grievous Angel, Brass Buttons, $1000 Wedding, Love Hurts (THE best version of the Boudleaux Bryant country standard, covered by the Everly Brothers and Nazareth among others) and Ooo Las Vegas. Overall, I give Grievous Angel 5 out of 5.

Next: Another Green World by Brian Eno

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