"The best of Gram Parsons."

22 Aug "The best of Gram Parsons."

The Orlando Sentinel
By Jim Abbott

Though Parsons’ career was brief, the music he left behind has influenced the sound of acts ranging from the Eagles to the Jayhawks. Here’s a look at the definitive releases:

_Gram Parsons and the International “Submarine Band, Safe At Home” (1967): The International Submarine Band, a band Parsons named after a reference in a Little Rascals episode, had disintegrated by the time of its debut album. Songs such as “Luxury Liner” and “Do You Know How It Feels to Be Lonesome?” foreshadowed the style that Parsons would bring to the Byrds.

_The Byrds, “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” (1968): Because of a contractual conflict, most of Parsons’ singing was removed from the original version of this influential country-rock album that he shaped with such authority. New reissues include “lost” tracks with his vocals.

_The Flying Burrito Brothers, “The Gilded Palace of Sin” (1969): Parsons and ex-Byrd Chris Hillman deepened their country roots on this debut album. Boundary-busting covers such as Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman” segue into “Sin City” and the bookend love songs “Hot Burrito #1” and “Hot Burrito #2.” Hillman considers those two songs the best vocals Parsons ever recorded.

_The Flying Burrito Brothers, “Burrito Deluxe” (1970): Parsons’ second and final studio album with the Burritos was more uneven than the band’s debut, likely because of the singer’s distraction with the Rolling Stones. That relationship did yield “Wild Horses,” a Mick Jagger-Keith Richards ballad that the Burritos recorded a year before the Stones.

_Gram Parsons, “G.P.” (1973): Parsons’ solo debut featured a backing band of Elvis Presley alumni such as guitarist James Burton and drummer Ronnie Tutt. Twangy country tunes are balanced by melodic ballads (“She”) and memorable duets with Emmylou Harris on “We’ll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morning” and “That’s All It Took.”

_Gram Parsons, “Grievous Angel” (1974): Parsons’ signature “Hickory Wind” and new duets with Harris on “Hearts on Fire” and “Love Hurts” make this posthumous album a strong effort that belies the toll drugs and alcohol were taking on him.

_Gram Parsons, “Another Side of this Life: The Lost Recordings of Gram Parsons 1965-66” (2002): These homemade solo recordings were made in 1965 by Parsons’ friend Jim Carlton on a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Released on Sundazed Records, they document the singer’s foray into folk music and include an early version of “Brass Buttons,” a song that eventually would surface on Grievous Angel.



A resurgence of interest in Gram Parsons is expected to peak this year at annual events that honor his musical legacy.

Along with fans, the festivals also have become a touchstone for Polly Parsons, 35, who is gradually immersing herself in her father’s legacy. Parsons is a regular visitor to the annual Gram Parsons Tribute and Joshua Tree Music Festival, which will celebrate its sixth anniversary Sept. 27 at the national park.

“I enjoy it,” says Parsons, who works as a movie makeup artist in Los Angeles and operates a support center for people battling drug and alcohol addiction. “It’s a way to feel connected to my father.”

It’s only in the past few years that Parsons, who never knew her father as a child, has been able to learn about his story.

“I always knew who my father was, but there were a lot of questions that I had to find answers for on my own before I was ready to become part of the public awareness. He has a very strong aura; he definitely was a powerful force.”

In addition to the Joshua Tree event, that force will be celebrated at:

_Standing in the Shadow of the Grievous Angel, tribute concert: Sept. 19, Blue Sky Court, 410 4th Ave. S., Nashville, Tenn. Send email to info@sincitymarketing.com for details as the event approaches.

_6th annual Gram Parsons Tribute Concerts: Sept. 19 and 20; Ritz Theater and Little Knights Nightclub, Waycross, Ga.; Details at brh.wayxcable.com as the event approaches.

_5th annual Sleepless Nights, Gram Parsons tribute concert being planned for January in San Francisco. Details are forthcoming, with updates at pacifichessian@hotmail.com.