A second appearance in my B100 favourite songs list for Gram Parsons, this time as a solo act with the exquisite “$1000 Wedding” from his swansong album “Grievous Angel”.
We’ve already heard from the Flying Burrito Brothers at #51, the band Gram Parsons formed after his brief but influential stint in the Byrds. Upon leaving the Burritos after their great first two albums, Gram signed a solo record deal in early 1970. Born into a wealthy Florida fruit farming dynasty, Gram Parsons cultivated an especially potent appetite for drink and drugs even by the standards of his fellow musicians at the time, benefitting from the inherited support net that his peers didn’t share (initially at least).
A shared appetite for such mischief meant that initial sessions in 1970 with ex-Beach Boys and Byrds producer Terry Melcher were largely unproductive, after which Gram famously hooked up with his mate Keith Richards on the 1971 Rolling Stones UK tour and subsequent “Exile On Main Street” recording sessions. With rumours that Mick Jagger “persuaded” Gram to later leave the Stones camp, Parsons returned to America and started a productive duets partnership with Emmylou Harris.
Along with members of Elvis’ TCB Band, this partnership helped to produce Gram’s first solo album “GP”, released in January 1973. Boasting six Parsons originals plus several country covers, “GP” saw Gram again on top form after an uncertain start to the 70s, his heartbreakingly yearning voice perfectly matched with Emmylou Harris’ classic country tones.
However, Gram remained deeply troubled and after some difficult touring plus ongoing personal problems (having split from wife Gretchen Burrell), Gram Parsons sadly died from morphine and alcohol abuse in September 1973. Amongst this turmoil a second and final solo album had been recorded – and “Grevious Angel” was posthumously released in January 1974. Continuing where “GP” had left off but with even stronger songs to my mind, “Grevious Angel” is a pioneering country rock masterpiece. And on an album not short of highlights, it’s “$1000 Wedding” that stands out, its poignantly mysterious tale beautifully arranged and topped off by another emotionally charged Parsons/Harris duet.
VIDEOS AND OTHER STUFF
- Other great Gram Parsons songs include Brass Buttons, Return Of The Grevious Angel, Love Hurts, Hearts On Fire, Still Feeling Blue, A Song For You
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