With a bottle of wine, and some pills on the shelf

by Chris Bertram on September 19, 2013

Today is the fortieth anniversary of Gram Parsons’s death in Joshua Tree, CA, a death famously followed by two funerals, after the coffin containing his body was stolen from LAX by his road manager so that he could be cremated in the desert (as previously agreed, apparently). Relatives got the partially incinerated body back, and completed the job (as it were) in Florida. There’s even a rather uneven film about it: Grand Theft Parsons.

When Parsons died, he’d never had a hit record. He was a too-rich young man from the South, who loved country music, fancied being a rock star, and who threw much of his talent away with the drugs and booze he could readily afford. Not much to admire, you might think.

Parsons’s fame rests on five albums: the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the Flying Burrito Brothers’ Gilded Palace of Sin and Burrito Deluxe, then the solo GP and Grievous Angel (the latter two cut with the top session musicians his money could afford). All of them contain a mix of his own songs and covers of classic country and sometimes soul. His own compositions, written in the country-rock idiom he helped invent, are suggestive, even enigmatic, vignettes of American life, love, faith, betrayal and death. “$1000 Dollar Wedding”, perhaps my personal favourite (though I change my mind all the time) tells a story of death and tragedy, a wedding transformed into a funeral, but what, exactly, has happened? We have to invent a lot of that for ourselves. “Sin City”, recorded with the Burritos, also tells a story of something. What? Evangelism? Conflict between money and faith? “The scientists say, it will all wash away, but we don’t believe any more ….” And other songs depict childhood, nostalgia and loss: “Hickory Wind” (recorded with the Byrds and re-recorded on Grievous Angel), “Brass Buttons”, in which he remembers his mother. None of them have dated.

With the covers – my favourite is “Streets of Baltimore”, but let me put in a word for his version of Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home” on the posthumous collection Sleepless Nights – Parsons managed to get a rock audience to listen to music that was unhip and uncool but which he loved. Thanks to him the Louvin Brothers’s songs are more widely known than they otherwise would be, and countless people have listened to Merle Haggard and George Jones, who wouldn’t have. His selection of songs also managed to make other connections between different genres: the inclusion of the Moman/Penn numbers “Do Right Woman” and “Dark End of the Street”, soul hits for Aretha Franklin and James Carr respectively, is a case in point.

Without Parsons, the history of rock music would be very different. The first and most obvious influence is on the Stones: without his friendship with Keith Richards, it is doubtful whether their greatest album, Exile, would ever have been recorded. Country rock, as it developed after Parsons’s death had its bad side: the Eagles took the Parsons model and turned out mostly saccharine-inflected commercial products, which haven’t lasted. Without Parsons, though, the alt-country/Americana revival that took place from the mid-80s wouldn’t have happened, at least not as it did. No Steve Earle, no Uncle Tupelo, no Gillian Welch, no Ryan Adams, maybe no Lucinda Williams or Cowboy Junkies …. I won’t expand the list.

I wasn’t aware of Parsons’s music directly, when I was growing up, but I’d head of him. I’d heard of him because Emmlylou Harris and her Hot Band were touring, appearing on the Old Grey Whistle Test, and getting rave reviews in the Melody Maker, circa 1976. And those reviews would always mention Parsons, with whom Harris had sung on his two solo albums, GP and Grievious Angel. Parsons hadn’t discovered Harris, but he had found a place for her in his music as she did for his songs in much of her later output, keeping it alive in the public consciousness for others to rediscover. Her greatest work, on the albums Elite Hotel and Luxury Liner, is full of Parsons’s compositions, and her best song “Boulder to Birmingham” is her meditation on his stupid stupid end. Harris is a fine musician and a great singer, and on those records (as well as the last two Parsons ones) her voice has the those wonderfully delicate inflections quality that she’s known for. But listening to her versions against Parsons’s (“Sin City” for example), there’s no doubt that his are superior. He brings a greater edge and a conviction to the music, whereas her arrangements are often too slow and the records are overproduced. (For all that, they are still great records.)

Anyway, I love Gram Parsons. On this anniversary listen to his “cosmic American music”. If you just don’t get it, listen again.

Here’s Emmylou Harris’s memorial, it brings me tears every time:

{ 109 comments }

1

bob mcmanus 09.19.13 at 8:39 am

Well, the history or roots of country-rock is IMO considerably more complicated than this (check out Beau Brummels Triangle a year before Sweethearts) but GP is indispensable. Janis from Port Arthur, Mad River from Yellow Springs Ohio, Jerry Garcia jug band banjo, Neil Young, Mitchell, and Skip Spence from Canada…fact is many young people of that generation simply grew up with country in the background. It may not have been the best, but we sought out the best.

Hippies/psychedelic = rural/country/folk with delta blues as a more minor influence. Pretty white.

(There is a similar story in Britain leading to Denny and the Strawbs)

2

Chris Bertram 09.19.13 at 8:47 am

Well, the history or roots of country-rock is IMO considerably more complicated than this

You don’t say! I’d never have guessed….

3

bob mcmanus 09.19.13 at 9:04 am

You don’t say! I’d never have guessed….

I presumed not.

James Burton and Glen Campbell were all over LA as part of the Wrecking Crew a decade before Parsons hit town.

Parsons is good, but didn’t invent country-rock.

4

Peter R 09.19.13 at 9:11 am

I’ve been meaning to explore Gram Parsons’ work ever since I heard Art Bergmann’s cover of Sin City on his acoustic album Design Flaw (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EueKt7f9LAM). Great song (and performance), but I’ve never gotten around to following up on that.

5

bob mcmanus 09.19.13 at 9:56 am

Here You Go …two years before Sweethearts in LA

And This

I can’t say for sure what was going on (although Chris Hillman wrote a book about it), but I picture Parsons and the Byrds experimenting in a club while Nelson/Burton/Campbell and Clarence White were across the street doing covers of Acuff, Bill Anderson, Willie Nelson, Jimmie Rodgers with about ten years experience. Since Nelson had emulated the Carl Perkins Sun Records sound since 1958, always with Burton by his side, I’ll give the nod to Little Ricky as the father of country-rock, unless you want to be more specific about what Parsons brought to LA.

And Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed have their share of country

6

Jeffrey Davis 09.19.13 at 1:51 pm

The term “country rock” is that of a marketing executive. Blue Moon of Kentucky? Blue Suede Shoes? Maybelline? The musics have never been far apart.

7

William Berry 09.19.13 at 1:55 pm

“Boulder to Birmingham” is, indeed, a beautiful song. Parsons was the one true love of Emmylou’s life.

I would disagree that it is her singularly best song, however. It is one of her best, along with, maybe, a dozen or so more.

“My Antonia” (with Dave Matthews), “Making Believe”, “If I Could Only Win Your Love”, “Beneath Still Waters”, “The Price You Pay” . . . . it could be a long list.

8

Anderson 09.19.13 at 2:43 pm

Emmylou is a great lady.

the Eagles took the Parsons model and turned out mostly saccharine-inflected commercial products, which haven’t lasted

Not to defend the Eagles here, but “haven’t lasted”? You are listening to different radio stations than the rest of America.

9

Jacob Haller 09.19.13 at 3:01 pm

I had probably heard some of his music growing up, but it was the “Return Of The Grievous Angel” tribute album that brought Parsons’s music to my attention. The Cowboy Junkies’ cover of ‘Ooh Las Vegas’, Beck & Emmylou Harris’s cover of ‘Sin City’, Gillian Welch’s cover of ‘Hickory Wind’, and the Rolling Creekdippers’ ‘In My Hour Of Darkness’ were particular favorites from that album.

Since then I’ve learned to play a couple of the songs, and a thing I’ve noticed about them is they often take three or four chords and then play them in every possible order; so whenever I make it through one without playing a bad chord I feel pretty good about myself.

10

Chris Brooke 09.19.13 at 3:03 pm

In one of his early books, The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson describes the difficulties of trying to find out about the 1987 stock market crash from American local radio stations as he drives around the country, when all they want to do is play “Hotel California” to him. (In the end, if memory serves, he is able to the BBC World Service from a Canadian station when he is close to the border.) It sounds from your comment as if little has changed.

11

Chris Bertram 09.19.13 at 3:13 pm

You are listening to different radio stations than the rest of America.

The fact that I’m not in America might explain that. I was at a Mary Gauthier/Eliza Gilkyson show in Madison WI back in 2005 and MG referred in between-songs chat to the British people who listen to Bob Harris Country on BBC Radio 2 (I forget what she said about us, but I was able to introduce myself afterwards as one of those people). I suspect the Gram reception in the UK is significantly different from the US and that there’s a bit of a subculture: sufficient to keep Sid Griffin and the Coal Porters touring here. Anyway, my judgement that the Eagles haven’t lasted was primarily aesthetic. People still listen to Fleedwood Mac’s Rumors in very large numbers, and I’d say the same about them.

12

PatrickinIowa 09.19.13 at 3:14 pm

“In My Hour of Darkness.” Listening to it now. Goddam.

When we start trying to figure out who invented a genre of anything, it’s probably wise to remember Borges, “‘Every writer “creates” his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.”

13

Fred 09.19.13 at 3:27 pm

“I just say this – it’s music. Either it’s good or it’s bad; either you like it or you don’t.”
~Gram Parsons

14

MG 09.19.13 at 5:39 pm

I love the Byrds and Gram Parsons but “plain old” country music was hugely popular in the US in the 60s even prior to the Burrito Brothers. Johnny Cash, Glenn Campbell, Johnny Rivers, even Jeannie C Riley had hits. And let’s not forget the impact of Bob Dylan and other folk musicians in promoting country music.

15

godoggo 09.19.13 at 5:44 pm

Also, “Act Naturally.”

16

Chris Bertram 09.19.13 at 5:56 pm

“plain old” country music was hugely popular

Nobody said it wasn’t, but the point is about who it was popular with. Yes to Dylan, but Nashville Skyline had a pretty negative reaction from some of his fans …. (and I could have written about the Grateful Dead’s recycling of country.)

17

js. 09.19.13 at 5:57 pm

Anyway, my judgement that the Eagles haven’t lasted was primarily aesthetic. People still listen to Fleedwood Mac’s Rumors in very large numbers, and I’d say the same about them.

Not sure about this. I don’t much go in for this stuff myself, but I have friends who consider themselves to be quite musically savvy (and justifiably so), who _really_ like _Rumors_. _No one_ I know listens to the Eagles, at least not willingly.

18

MG 09.19.13 at 6:39 pm

My point about country music was that it was popular in the 60s and these artists had hits on Top 40 stations.

I lived in Michigan in the 1960s and remembering listening to a tremendous range of music emitting from my transistor radio put out by CKLW, a top 40 station: they played Motown, soul, country, hard rock, folk music, British invansion, surf music. I can’t imagine that the musicians at the time (even Glenn Frey!) weren’t affected by their exposure to these different sounds.

19

William Berry 09.19.13 at 6:43 pm

Re: FM “Rumors”:

Two really good songs: “Go Your Own Way”, and “Don’t Stop”. My LP from ’70s, though well-played, is still mint (partly due to the Mk-II cleaning system).

Bill and Hill helped to immortalize “Don’t Stop”, in 1992.

20

Ronan(rf) 09.19.13 at 6:52 pm

I’m with js re Rumours and Fleetwood Mac, I think they’ve had a second wind recently and have attained a certain amount of (among the ‘music cognescenti’?) ‘credibility’ (for want of a better word) I think landslide is a great song (though google tells me its not on rumours)
Could be the same thing as with Portishead, overplaying their songs put off a generation?

21

Substance McGravitas 09.19.13 at 7:04 pm

Almost all of Rumors and Tusk is worth a listen. Personally I was put off by how smooth it all was when I was younger, and repulsed by the idea that they spent $1,000,000 recording Tusk. I suppose I am now just as dull as they were.

22

William Timberman 09.19.13 at 7:21 pm

I never liked country music for the same reason that Jews don’t like Wagner — it was always playing in the background when I was being tortured. Gram Parsons: bleah. A pretender, and one who couldn’t exist without an overdose of cultural amnesia.

Mind you, we’re not talking about talent here. I forgive non-U.S. fans of the genre who didn’t grow up under the consistent threat of Dixification, but believe me, you don’t know the half of it — or if you do, that’s still one step removed from having it beaten and kicked into you.

23

Alan Bostick 09.19.13 at 7:38 pm

The cover band clearly needs to be called The Gram Parsons Project.

24

Bill Gardner 09.19.13 at 7:53 pm

Chris. Thanks. And in return, EH with the incomparable Buddy Miller: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_D1QiKBxNTw

25

Chris Bertram 09.19.13 at 8:41 pm

Thanks Bill, that was great.

26

William Berry 09.19.13 at 9:15 pm

William Timberman: Agree, for the most part.

How-some-ever, you need to try a dose of good old Liberal Democrat Country!

Emmylou, we’ve mentioned. Then there is johnny Cash, and his daughter, the talented Rosanne Cash. The great Dolly Parton (she wrote “Save the Last Dance For Me”, hit versions of which were recorded by her and also Emmylou). Dwight Yoakum. Steve Earl. Even Merle Haggard, once an “Okie From Muskogie” wingnut, came to his senses late in life and became a bonafide, born-again lefty (if ever there was a heart-strings-tugging working-class song recorded, “If We Make It Through December” has to rank up there with the best of the lot).

And it’s not all white-bread, either (well, it mostly is). The best of Charlie Pride (“Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger”) is very good. And I love Freddy Fender; his weird take (Mexi-country?) on country might be an acquired taste, but try, e.g., “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”. Does cajun count in the diversity sweepstakes? Well, there is the great John Prine.

Can’t forget Willy Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, Waylon Jennings, lots more.

(For the record, I am not a country-western fan per se. I love at least some music in almost every imaginable genre— never got into punk or “world” music, though.)

27

Zb 09.19.13 at 9:43 pm

#26

Dolly Parton has written many great songs, but “Save the Last Dance for Me” is by Doc Pomus. He was a wheelchair user, post-polio, and he wrote the song while watching his wife dance at their wedding.

For non-conventional country, a couple of recommendations:

From Where I Stand: The Black Experience in Country Music is a great three-disc set.
http://www.amazon.com/From-Where-Stand-Experience-Country/dp/B000002NBV

The whole second disc of From Where I Stand could have just been Ray Charles’ Modern Sounds in Country & Western.

Almost anything from Bloodshot Records is worth listening to — I particularly recommend their anti-death penalty compilations, The Executioner’s Last Songs.
https://www.bloodshotrecords.com/

28

William Timberman 09.19.13 at 9:43 pm

William Berry @ 26

Yeah, I know. I’ve outgrown my fear/aversion reaction for the most part. And when I was a little kid, truth be told, I used to run around the house all day butchering snippets of Hank Williams tunes, ’cause they were catchy, and ’cause they were on the radio ALL the time. I can still remember the lyrics, too — to me they were just an extra set of nursery rhymes.

Then again, every time I hear something like Okie from Muskogee, or even a patronizing ditty like the lovely Ms. Kraus’s Catfish John, I get flashbacks, and am tempted to reach for the revolver that a peaceful soul like me would never, ever leave lying around the house.

29

maidhc 09.19.13 at 9:45 pm

I think Merle Haggard intended “Okie from Muskogee” to be a funny song. If you really listen to the words it’s hard to take it seriously. Squares having a ball drinking white lightning? But a lot of people missed the joke. It did spawn a great crop of parodies though. My favorite is “I’ll Change Your Flat Tire, Merle” by Pure Prairie League, although it’s less of a direct parody than some of the others.

I think the country rock story has to include Ian and Sylvia, both their recordings in Nashville and later with the Great Speckled Bird. Ian’s television show wasn’t shown outside Canada, I think.

30

William Timberman 09.19.13 at 10:06 pm

maidhc @ 29

Dog whistle funny, I’ll grant you. But given my experiences (Lawton High School, class of ’61 — and yeah, that’s in Oklahoma) it hurts a lot more when I’m expected to laugh.

31

William Berry 09.19.13 at 10:31 pm

@Zb: Doc Pomus, eh? Thnx for the info. Both the Dolly and the Emmylou versions are gorgeous, with Dolly’s the more spirited and Emmylou’s with that languid, heart-breaking melancholy she is so good at. Haven’t heard the Pomus version of the lyrics, but I assume the song was gender-viewpoint adjusted for the women.

And there certainly is a lot of vile crap out there. Interesting to me is the left to right conversion you sometimes see. Hank Jr. was pretty left in the early phase of his career; he went from the searing “The American Dream” early on to “If The South Woulda’ Won (We’d Have It Made; or something like that) later on. Just as egregious is the Charlie Daniels Band, going from getting “stoned in the mornin’, drunk in the afternoon”, to hanging drug dealers from the nearest tree.

Finger-to-the-wind political/ commercial prostitution in both cases.

32

bob mcmanus 09.19.13 at 10:41 pm

Ok, good. I brushed at it in my first comment, but now Timberman has declared himself with “Kitty Wells and Carter Family as soundtrack to Lynch America” and we can get rollin. What was country-rock about, what was it for?

Cause music was ideological in the sixties, and your influences and sources professed your politics. There was much to choose from, especially for the slightly older crowd who started listening in the late 50s, when Odetta played next to Seeger. But it was all getting ugly after 1965.

So what do we think, did the Dead go acoustic and Nitty Gritty back to the roots and Gram Parsons sang “Streets of Baltimore” because these people wanted to stand tall with the George Wallace Presidential Campaign?

Or were they trying really hard to remind people that Loretta Lynn was first and foremost a coal miner’s daughter? Maybe they were trying to reach across the racism?

Maybe they failed. But I respect their attempt and intentions much more than the urban self-righteous crowd that moved to disco and glam and wrote the rural working class off. We are still living with that choice.

33

William Timberman 09.19.13 at 11:34 pm

Bob, I didn’t intend my comment to be a blanket condemnation of the music or the people who made it, nor to start an authenticity competition. Gram Parsons did what a lot of us disaffected kids did in those days — attempted to overcome his own alienation by parachuting himself into someone else’s traditions. Some did it badly, and some — Keith Richards is a perfect example — did it superbly well. As the OP says, Parsons can be admired without coming over all sociological about his reasons or his fate. I just went another way.

Still, sentimentality of the sort white Southerners especially permit themselves is awfully hard to take when you’ve been at the pointy end of those aspects of rural working-class culture that we all wish didn’t exist. Believe that or not as you choose; there’s no reason for me to quote chapter and verse from my own history in an attempt to prove a questionable universal.

Solidarity forever. Sure, okay, but it’s hard to maintain in an environment in which attempting to express a dissenting opinion affords you little but offers to kick your ass. My answer was to go somewhere else, but even that doesn’t seem to have been good enough. Now some pretty rotten actors want to turn everywhere, including where I escaped to into Dixie, and Loretta Lynn be damned. I’m not happy about it, but truly, not even I would blame the music for that.

34

Zb 09.19.13 at 11:56 pm

#31 — I’m very fond of Tina Turner’s version of “Save the Last Dance for Me”

35

Kevin Erickson 09.20.13 at 1:05 am

I’ve been fascinated by the way “Americana” is received in the UK, but I have no complaints about this. European audiences are better at paying for music than Americans, so some friends have sustained pretty good careers that way, selling out big rooms in the UK, even as their work is mostly ignored stateside. This phenomenon even resulted in an (ultimately ill-fated) record deal for a band I played in during my college years.

“A Song For You” is my favorite of Gram’s, and the line “I hope you know a lot more than you’re believing” is one of the best intellectual putdowns and best lyrics of all time.

36

Kevin Erickson 09.20.13 at 1:24 am

Maybe Parsons’ biggest contribution was to open up space for deconstructed (or absent) narratives in countryish/post-country lyric writing.

Richard Buckner, whose fine new album can be heard at the New York Times’ website of all places, is a superb example of someone working this way today.

37

js. 09.20.13 at 5:23 am

Can I just say this about country:

Being brown, it just kind of tends to be weird and obscure and semi-alienating. I mean, the Byrds are fine, some of their songs are great, even. And Cash is great (mostly because it’s so dark), and I like some old Patsy Cline songs too (that is country, right?), but beyond that, I’m just mostly like: umm, not getting it.

I actually feel the same way about the newer alt-country stuff—tho there are some very quiet Will Oldham albums that I really like (Black/Rich Music, e.g.).

38

Chris Bertram 09.20.13 at 6:44 am

It’s like I never even mentioned those covers of Do Right Woman and Dark End of the Street by the Burritos.

39

Belle Waring 09.20.13 at 10:10 am

js: how now, cow: brown? In what sense brown? Also, the Byrds aren’t really country. They are country-esque. I have to side with mcmanus in saying…uh, everybody was still listening to the Carter family already from before, no one needed to be surprised by country music except possibly Keith Richards (possibly), and–secondly, the Grateful Dead much? The Dead get no love. “Dire Wolf” is a great song, for example. However, it is impossible for mcmanus to be entirely right in one thread, so I must point out that the ‘they’ who turned to disco, glam rock, and disco’s underground twin sibling hip-hop, were black, gay, and Latino, and weren’t totally welcome in the country scene (there was a black country scene, admittedly). Popular imagination glosses over how much of the “dicso sucks” movement had to do with hating gay dance music rather than (entirely justifiably) hating the song “Kung-Fu Fighting,” which is, now that I come to think of it, genuinely “a little bit frightening.”

Chris Bertram, my man, don’t hate on Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors. Don’t compare them to the Eagles, that just ain’t right. When I was a kid, in my family’s not-entirely-solvent leather store/reasonably profitable cough*weedstore*cough, we had some records to play on the store stereo, which you could hear both down in the selling area that opened onto River Street in Savannah, and upstairs where we cut and sewed and dyed leather. We had Rumors; Exile on Main Street; a 6-album box set of “the History of Country Music”; Robert Johnson, Bukka White, that kind of country blues; the soundtrack to the movie “The Harder They Come”; a Best of the Carter Family; Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison; Dylan’s John Wesley Harding…hmm. Some other stuff. All those albums remain as kick-ass today as they were then. I listen to them a lot. Tusk is great too, and the previously unreleased demos/tracks are great.

40

Chris Bertram 09.20.13 at 11:15 am

Sorry Belle … I think it is partly an allergy stemming from a certain view of their history: the great British blues band (with Peter Green) morphing into an American soft-rock ensemble. When Rumors (1977) came out, the UK was in the throes of punk and I was 18 …. they were everything I hated and I’ve never been able to shake the association.

41

Chris Bertram 09.20.13 at 11:27 am

… and @mcmanus back at #6

“And Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed have their share of country”

True, but Country Honk on Let it Bleed is supposedly Gram Parsons’s arrangement of HTW (which you can hear on Sleepless Nights).

42

Harry 09.20.13 at 1:13 pm

I’m with Belle on Rumours. What they have in common with The Eagles (who I like much more than anyone else on this thread, apparently) is meticulous production, which, like CB, I hated in 1978 (it was still the #1 album when I got interested in music, I think, and I thought it was AWFUL). But Steely Dan is meticulousy produced too — and the Beatles, obviously! I listened to it properly about 5 years ago. Rumours is full of melodies, Lindsey Buckingham’s voice is hypnotic, it is musically clever and complex, there’s not a single weak track, and the album is lyrically dark in a way that I couldn’t have possibly understood when I was young, and I wish I still couldn’t. I sometimes try to listen to music that is so familiar as if I have never heard it before and didn’t know where it came from. Try that with Rumours.

I know they are a national institution and everything, but whatever I do I cannot, and never have been able, to see what the appeal of the Rolling Stones is. Or The Who for that matter (who would listen to The Who, if they had The Kinks and Small Faces to listen to?). If that comment doesn’t make this thread last forever, nothing will.

43

Trader Joe 09.20.13 at 1:57 pm

I had refrained since I had little to add to the GP discussion, but since Harry @42 has thrown down a marker on The Who and the Rolling Stones, I’m compelled to defend.

The Who and the Stones, in my view, aren’t about musical quality and composition, they are about energy. Their songs capture that moment when you get in the car after a long work week and just want to release some of the tension of too much time sitting and not enough doing.

They capture that restless need to dance, to shout, to expend that can possess any of us at any time. Although sometimes the lyrics try to sound rebelious – its really about fun, the desire to vent, to live in the moment. Its why both are BY FAR better concert bands than “iPod” bands.

As music – ehh, whatever, some is better some is worse, one can cherry pick both fine and miserable examples. Plenty of bands are able to do this in their own way, but the Stones and Who were among the first and the basic power chords and simple, catchy lyrics have proved far more enduring than the Kinks or Small Faces (though clearly less musically accomplished).

44

PGD 09.20.13 at 1:59 pm

I think the more you learn about Gram Parsons the less important a figure he becomes. He apparently plagiarized Hickory Wind and he had a habit of making authorship claims on other peoples’ music (Honky Tonk Woman? I don’t buy it), which makes you wonder about his role in even the songs he did play a part in writing. And as others point out in this thread, country rock is/was nothing new — indeed, rock and roll *is* ‘country rock’ in the sense that it is a blend of white southern and black southern music. Listen to Jimmy Rogers from the 1920s, the first mass country star, and his music is pure blues. Even the particular 1970s style of easy listening rock that reached its pinnacle with the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac is clearly prefigured in both famous bands like the Dead and more obscure ones like Commander Cody.

45

PGD 09.20.13 at 2:04 pm

And I don’t mean 43 to say that the stuff the FBB did wasn’t great. It’s that the more you look into it the more implausible the legend of ‘Gram Parsons, seminal genius who died too young’ starts to look and the more the story seems like ‘Gram Parsons, impressario who stole a lot of stuff and blended some influences into his own scene’. But the line between stealing and creativity in art is rather thin, impressarios/producers do play an important role, and he does seem to contribute a distinctive lyrical voice on a lot of his songs. (Notably, *not* the plagiarized Hickory Wind which stands out in many ways from all the other work of the FBB).

46

Phil 09.20.13 at 2:07 pm

The Stones and the Who are great bands as long as you keep an eye on the Best Before date, which in both cases is fairly early in the 1970s.

47

Walt 09.20.13 at 2:18 pm

The Who was good at least until 1975, though I personally liked Who Are You.

48

Chris Bertram 09.20.13 at 2:23 pm

Do you have anything beyond “someone on the internet sez” re Hickory Wind PGD? When you say it stands out on many ways from the other work of the FBB, you rather betray yourself, since it doesn’t appear on a FBB album. AFAIK, Parsons never claimed authorship of Honky Tonk Women …. he just did a countrified arrangement of it.

49

MG 09.20.13 at 2:25 pm

js – this brown person bought “Harper Valley PTA” as a child. Loved that song!

And I would also agree with Belle that disco was the music of the gay/minority crowd (who liked to dance!) than the album-oriented / so-called-progressive rock that was popular on FM radio at the time. The songs played were boring (to this person) and seemed to last forever.

Also, how can people not think that “Don’t Break the Chain”, “Landslide”, “Take it Easy”, “Desperado”(Ronstadt cover), and “Already Gone” are fantastic songs? Stop drinking the haterade!

50

Chris Bertram 09.20.13 at 2:25 pm

Rather sympathize with you on the Who, Harry, but not on the Stones (uneven though the were). The production on Exile is execrable though, so maybe that explains some of your antipathy.

51

Belle Waring 09.20.13 at 2:30 pm

js: Oh duh I am a complete moron who should not have been given the keys to the internet, as I cannot drive. You being brown. OK, yes, I can see that for sure. Though white people seem to make themselves at home on some brown peoples’ music. Harry–on the Rolling Stones? For seriousz? I can squint my way to your point on The Who. I had a conversation with my mom some time after my parents divorced; she told me that for a long time my dad thought that The Who were going to turn out to have been a musically more significant band than The Rolling Stones. We were driving in my grandmother’s Honda Civic in Rock Creek Park. She said this just to mock my dad, and it was totally successful. I remember it vividly because I was just weeping with laughter. But The Who have many amazing songs, despite being so tragically hit-or-miss. Since my family listened to The Clash and Pete Townshend’s (good! first two) solo albums at the same time in my life I didn’t perceive them as so distinct from one another as all that.

But The Rolling Stones? In Cthulu’s unnameable glyph, what the everlovin’…? Are you sober now? Can you maybe fix that, but I mean, really fix the fuck out of that, and listen to all of Exile on Main Street, IN ORDER but with warm vinyl crackling? You are breaking my heart. Wait, or maybe you need to be more unhappy. Do you have time carved out in your schedule for maybe 8 months of serious depression during which you could listen to The Rolling Stones all the time? Hmmm, no, that’s probably not enough. We may need to use that as a base; you can listen to The Rolling Stones and Gram Parsons and Bob Dylan that whole time, and then periodically later when you need soothing, or are thinking of checking out (it can happen to anyone.) Then, starting at 2:20 of “Tumbling Dice” your throat will close up with tears? And at the end of “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine” you will feel suddenly that you are laying down flat and someone has put 6 or 7 one-pound lead plates on your chest, like a blank medical technician with too many X-ray vests, just one on top of another, no reason? I suppose you should have been listening while you had your unhappy childhood, or else listening while having a less happy childhood, but really: “this coat is torn and frayed/it’s seen much better days/just as long as the guitar plays/it’ll steal your heart away, steal your heart away…” Keith Richards is a wizard cocksucker guitar player, man, you’re not listening right.

52

SamChevre 09.20.13 at 2:33 pm

rock and roll *is* ‘country rock’ in the sense that it is a blend of white southern and black southern music

And black and white southerners music aren’t that distinct. Listen to this, this , this , and this; are those really different genres?

53

Chris Bertram 09.20.13 at 2:42 pm

SamChevre: this is a point that Parsons would have 100% endorsed. Hence the stuff about Cosmic American Music, hence the stuff about country being white soul.

@Belle: Like!

54

MG 09.20.13 at 2:56 pm

Wagon Wheel would seem to be the ultimate old school country song. But it’s not — the song was based on a bootleg by Bob Dylan that was expanded on by Old Crow Medicine Show And recorded in a more country-ish style by Darius Rucker, formerly of Hootie and the Blowfish (thanks Wikipedia!)

How can you not love this?:

55

David J. Littleboy 09.20.13 at 2:59 pm

“All those albums remain as kick-ass today as they were then. I listen to them a lot.”

Agreed. As a pre-teen, I listened to some god-awful pablum, but the Richard and Mimi Farina and Dylan electric albums marked the start a lot of amazing stuff. From Paul Butterfield to Dave van Ronk** to Hendrix to Jorma to Quicksilver. It all holds up. The commercial tinge to rock became stronger starting around 1972, though, and the pickings were a bit slimmer. But lots of folks hung in there, e.g. Neil Young and Joni, producing interesting, lasting music.

Interestingly John Wesley Harding was quite early (1967) even though it followed the three in-your-face electric albums, and Rumors a lot later (1976).

*: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znUHAXfL3J4
In some sense R+M Farina were transitional from pablum folk (“Pack up your sorrows” was a bit too nice for my mid-teens and later) to music with an edge and with something to say.

** NSFW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_w5JlDn9WCw

56

Kevin 09.20.13 at 3:15 pm

All this ‘Who-hatin” is breaking MY heart. How can you have been a teenager and not been moved by all those anthems? But it doesn’t stop there. Even The Endless Wire has some great stuff — Tea and Theatre anyone? – and their ode to Elvis, which came just before it, “Real Good Lookin’ boy’ is fantastic. (Yes, I think the Who survived the deaths of half its members).

Anyway, having missed Gram Parsons the first time around and having never managed to get around to listening to him since, in spite of my Americana addiction, I am really happy to have read this post. His songs are just great. Emmylou Harris’s version of HW is devastating. Thanks.

57

bill benzon 09.20.13 at 3:16 pm

FWIW, Charlie “Urban Blues” Keil tells me that the first actual recording of blues was done by a white man. In fact, you don’t have to rely on my memory. You can check it for yourself in Keil & Feld, Music Grooves, pp. 198-199. So:

I haven’t done much research on the earliest blues recording but what I have heard makes me want to speculate extensively on the implications of the fact that for at least five years all the mass-mediated versions of the blues were white. I strongly suspect that eventually we can call the blues a white “heart disease” to which blacks and no immunity, and which only a truly black music could cure.

And, BTW, Vassar Clements has recorded an interesting version of “Green Onions”.

58

John Holbo 09.20.13 at 3:28 pm

“Sorry Belle … I think it is partly an allergy stemming from a certain view of their history: the great British blues band (with Peter Green) morphing into an American soft-rock ensemble.”

This is so funny because I’m totally meh on Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac, but I absolutely love the later stuff. “Tusk” is, I think, my favorite album. Ever. I love Lindsey Buckingham. I love Stevie Nicks.

59

John Holbo 09.20.13 at 3:31 pm

Example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyQpIVuaxs0

It just doesn’t get any better.

60

Ebenezer Scrooge 09.20.13 at 3:49 pm

Good blues lyrics are good country lyrics in haiku form.

61

PatrickinIowa 09.20.13 at 3:52 pm

Oh my Ba’al, Belle, yes, yes, yes:

“I suppose you should have been listening while you had your unhappy childhood, or else listening while having a less happy childhood, but really: “this coat is torn and frayed/it’s seen much better days/just as long as the guitar plays/it’ll steal your heart away, steal your heart away…” Keith Richards is a wizard cocksucker guitar player, man, you’re not listening right.”

I once said to my brother, “Elmore James uses a baseball bat, Keith uses a straight razor.” And don’t get me started on Keith and Mick Taylor in concert in 1972.

62

PGD 09.20.13 at 4:19 pm

Do you have anything beyond “someone on the internet sez” re Hickory Wind PGD?

Well, the linked article interviews Sylvia Samons, the non-trust fund, non-Ivy League, non-celebrity author of the song, and she describes her legal settlement with the record company.

And black and white southerners music aren’t that distinct.

Right, they are variants/offshoots of the rural blues. As I mentioned Jimmy Rogers the first commercial country star.

63

mrearl 09.20.13 at 4:23 pm

Ah, to be as young as you folks again. Here it is from the long view: They are all, all you name, Sons Of Buddy Holly.

Including Dylan.

64

bob mcmanus 09.20.13 at 5:39 pm

…indeed, rock and roll *is* ‘country rock’ in the sense that it is a blend of white southern and black southern music. Listen to Jimmy Rogers from the 1920s, the first mass country star, and his music is pure blues.

I detect little trace of Robert Johnson when listening to Fairport’s “Tam Lin”

I dispute the very idea of “Pure Blues” and would start with the divisions of Delta and Piedmont Blues, and keep on dividing. Sonny Terry was taught harmonica by his father, who never played blues, but played jigs and reels for country dances.

I have an interest in the Folk Revivals, 1st and 2nd, both British and American, and their left-wing politics. Jean Ritchie, Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger. I am curious about the mid-60s reaction, in England by Jansch and Denny, and what I might the Ashley Hutchings Cosmic Conglomerate and the Psych-folk-psych of the 70s (Heron, Trees, Comus), and whether Martin Carthy and Shirley Collins were a sociological phenomenon that paralleled the “country-rock” in the States. They happened at nearly the same time, and if I were around watching Clapton and Page murder the blues I might have been driven to sea shanties myself.

Sumpin was goin round back then. It was partly a back to the woods thing, and I doubt it was racist.

65

David J. Littleboy 09.20.13 at 6:03 pm

Stevie Nicks was OK with FM, but she was born to be a heartbreaker.

66

bob mcmanus 09.20.13 at 6:04 pm

Post:Denny was barbaric, the songs were around and current, but Denny and Thompson and Swarbrick added an electric edge and a shout that made “Reynardine” and “Tam Lin” and “Sailor’s Song” and “Autopsy” an explicit call to the old dark forest gods to come over and mess Pandaemonium all the way up.

And Sandy begat Ozzy begat Lenny begat Sid.

The British keep trying to remind Americans of the rage in the Childe Ballads, but well, we never had a labor party. It’s a theory.

67

DaveMB 09.20.13 at 6:08 pm

My take on the Eagles is that they were good songwriters but mediocre performers. The tribute album Common Thread has covers by major standard-country stars of the time and IMHO every track is better than the Eagles version.

68

David J. Littleboy 09.20.13 at 6:10 pm

“Ah, to be as young as you folks again. Here it is from the long view: They are all, all you name, Sons Of Buddy Holly. “

And none of them would argue with that.

69

Jeffrey Davis 09.20.13 at 6:31 pm

My son-in-law (30s) said, “Rock and Roll is the new Dixieland.”

70

Anderson 09.20.13 at 6:33 pm

Glad to see the defenses of Rumours. Popularity is not infallibly inverse to merit. Also, “Gold Dust Woman.”

71

David J. Littleboy 09.20.13 at 6:36 pm

“if I were around watching Clapton and Page murder the blues I might have been driven to sea shanties myself.”

ROFL. I like what Clapton did with the blues with Cream (since he wasn’t really trying to play blues, it flew as music in its own right), but his attempts at doing more authentic blues more recently (in the 1990s or so) leave me cold (the stuff with Mayall was better, but still not Mike Bloomfield level). The Paul Butterfield Born in Chicago album did that so well, there’s not a lot of point in even trying.

“an explicit call to the old dark forest gods to come over and mess Pandaemonium all the way up.”

Lovely turn of phrase there. Exactly: Denny doing those tunes was amazing. I never got what Phil Ochs thought he was doing with The Highwayman, though, or why it got so much air time on Boston folk radio back in the day. Go figure. On the other hand, those blokes are still running around playing the same tunes, and sounding a lot less interesting than they used to. Lots of rockers age badly. Sigh. For some reason, I find myself still enjoying Steve Winwood, though. Traffic and Blind Faith were great, of course.

72

Harry 09.20.13 at 6:40 pm

Re DaveMB’s point — Show of Hands do a fantastic cover of The Boys of Summer, a Don Henley song that, in his version, leaves me completely cold.

73

mrearl 09.20.13 at 6:48 pm

“And none of them would argue with that.”

Not a single one of them:

74

David J. Littleboy 09.20.13 at 6:49 pm

“My son-in-law (30s) said, “Rock and Roll is the new Dixieland.” “

Except that that’s Swing, not Dixie. Here’s a swing tune with lovely lyrics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab9bSDPe0ZU

He does have a point in that many people remain enamored of the music they grew up with (see my posts above: I’m guilty as charged), so there’s continuing demand for the rockers who managed to survive the drugs and alcohol to continue touring.

75

Jeffrey Davis 09.20.13 at 6:59 pm

re: 74

Sorry. My Bob Crosby CD is titled “Dukes of Dixieland. Bob Cats Remembered.” I just put up the first Bob Crosby Youtube match I got without listening to it.

76

TheSophist 09.20.13 at 7:25 pm

On the Raising Sand tour Plant and Krauss did a cover of Matty Groves. Both a shout-out to Denny and a completion of the circle, as British folk gets T-Boned, maybe.

77

bill benzon 09.20.13 at 7:58 pm

@mcmanus: “I dispute the very idea of “Pure Blues”…”

Right.

78

Sandwichman 09.20.13 at 8:01 pm

Oh. My. God.

It just dawned on me that The Big Lebowski was (very loosely) a Gram Parsons biography!

79

bill benzon 09.20.13 at 8:07 pm

FWIW, Martin Scorsese’s PBS series on the blues was VERY uneven. But Mike Figgis’s segment on the British blues, “Red, White, and Blues,” is effin’ wonderful. From my review:

While it was nice to hear B. B. King acknowledge the role the British bluesmen played in reviving the careers of American bluesman, that’s not news. That sentiment is in print in a thousand places.

But the glow on Mick Fleetword’s face as he told of his pleasure in black acknowledgement, the ever so slight hitch in his voice – that cannot be put into words. Like the conversational stand-off between Sam Phillips and Ike Turner in episode three, these moments reveal a profound and delicate truth about the complex dance of black and white that has given us so much beautiful music. These documents allow us to see and even comprehend that dance in ways that elude reasoned analysis.

As if this isn’t enough, Figgis wraps it up by having an achingly slow performance of “Drowning In My Own Tears” materialize from the pink cheeks and blonde hair of a Scotswoman. This, the slow blues, is the inner sanctum, the center of the blues universe, and a technical challenge too. The virtuoso guitarist must make his blinding licks as delicate as Irish lace, then show that he can tease a single note until pigs grow wings, or for a couple of bars anyhow, whichever is longer. A vocalist must align shoulders, spine, and pelvis to support the sound so that she can ease it up and down by microtones. That Lulu did, giving us a blues more authentic than tartan plaid–though that’s not much of a standard, as scholars have demonstrated that clan plaids are a relatively recent innovation in the manufacture of tradition.

And I won’t tell you what Tom “What’s New Pussycat” Jones is doing in that episode. You can find the full Monty here:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2003/10/11/scorsese-s-blues-2/

80

mrearl 09.20.13 at 9:17 pm

Well, since y’all are still at it, I suppose someone should mention The Band, where so many old strands wove something new, and in it was some country rock:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgpdIoq7Prg

Or perhaps better known, and irresistible:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgpdIoq7Prg

We had Spike Jones on the box.

81

js. 09.20.13 at 9:22 pm

You being brown. OK, yes, I can see that for sure. Though white people seem to make themselves at home on some brown peoples’ music.

Yes, me being brown. I can see how that was open to misinterpretation. And (a) I too like tons of white peoples’ music—Village Green Preservation Society is one of my all-time favorite albums; and it’s pretty white! (Isn’t it?) I guess country just doesn’t do it for me. Also, (b) I obviously don’t mean to be speaking for brown people in general. For all I know, I’m totally misinterpreting my own inability to appreciate country and closely associated genres (in which I wouldn’t include Dylan, Cohen, etc.)

Either way, I definitely did not mean to be knocking country in general or Parsons in particular. I would knock the Eagles though….

82

js. 09.20.13 at 9:30 pm

The Who and the Stones, in my view, aren’t about musical quality and composition, they are about energy.

I would seriously reconsider this view. I can’t really speak to The Who, but I don’t see how one could possibly think that “Sympathy for the Devil”, “Gimme Shelter”, “Tumbling Dice”, or pretty much anything they put out ’68 to ’72 (or thereabouts) isn’t about musical quality and composition. (Not that their earlier stuff isn’t great either.)

83

Phil 09.20.13 at 9:53 pm

On the Raising Sand tour Plant and Krauss did a cover of Matty Groves.

Nice to hear this – I’ve got a lot of respect for both of them – but no, they didn’t. They just did Matty Groves. You don’t ‘cover’ traditional songs – you visit them, pay your respects and give them your best shot. They’ll still be around afterwards, waiting for the next rock god or busker to try their luck.

84

godoggo 09.20.13 at 11:45 pm

Mick Jagger vs. Bruce Willis. Discuss.

85

Anderson 09.20.13 at 11:56 pm

84: Bruce beats him down in the first round. Not even a fair fight.

86

Belle Waring 09.21.13 at 12:39 am

While Bruce Willis is in the bar drinking to celebrate his victory, Mick is having a threesome with Bruce’s wife and his hottest ex, the one he still dreams of late at night.

87

Harold 09.21.13 at 12:43 am

The Boogie Woogie is thought to have originated in the railroad and turpentine camps in the Piney Woods of Louisiana and Northeast Texas around Caddo Lake, with its focal point in the city of Marshall, Texas, not far from Shreveport. According to wikipedia: “In 1901, ‘Hoogie Boogie” appeared in the title of published sheet music. This is the first known instance where a redoubling of the word “Boogie” occurs in the title of published music. . . . [T]he first appearance of “Boogie” in the title of a[n audio] recording appears to be a “blue cylinder” recording made by Edison of the “American Quartet” performing “That Synchopated Boogie Boo” in 1913 . . . However none of these sheet music or audio recording examples contain the musical elements that would identify them as boogie-woogie.
The 1919 recordings (two takes) of “Weary Blues” by the Louisiana Five contained the same boogie-woogie bass figure as appears in the 1915 “Weary Blues” sheet music by Artie Matthews. Blues scholar, Dr. John Tennison has recognized these 1919 recordings as the earliest sound recordings which contain a boogie-woogie bass figure.
Blind Lemon Jefferson used the term “Booga Rooga” to refer to a guitar bass figure that he used in “Match Box Blues”. Jefferson may have heard the term from Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, who played frequently with Jefferson. Lead Belly, who was born in Mooringsport, La. and grew up in Harrison County, Texas, in the community of Leigh, said he first heard boogie-woogie piano in the Caddo Lake Area of northeast Texas in 1899. He said it influenced his guitar-playing. Lead Belly also said he heard boogie-woogie piano in the Fannin Street district of Shreveport, Louisiana. . . .Lead Belly was among the first guitar-players to adapt the rolling bass of boogie-woogie piano.
Texas, as the state of origin, became reinforced by Jelly Roll Morton who said he heard the boogie piano style there early in the 20th century; so did Leadbelly and so did Bunk Johnson . . . . Max Harrison (in the book Jazz edited by Hentoff and McCarthy in 1959) and Mack McCormick (in the liner notes to his Treasury of Field Recordings, VOL. 2) concluded that “Fast Western” was the first term by which boogie-woogie was known.
Also, “In Houston, Dallas, and Galveston — all Negro piano players played that way. This style was often referred to as a ‘fast western’ or ‘fast blues’ as differentiated from the ‘slow blues’ of New Orleans and St. Louis. At these gatherings the ragtime and blues boys could easily tell from what section of the country a man came, even going so far as to name the town, by his interpretation of a piece.”

Jerry Lee Lewis “I’m on Fire” (1964) http://youtu.be/xQuKo1Umgcg
Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Guy “Hadacol Boogie” (2006) http://youtu.be/mBdgavGqftQ (Hadacol was a patent medicine containing 12 % alcohol, much sought after in dry counties in the South, sold by the shot glass, and promoted in musical “Medicine shows” originating in Louisiana.)

Blues scholar John Tennison identifies Marshall Texas, the former terminus of the Southern Pacific railroad, as the birthplace of boogie woogie piano playing. He maintains that the blues designation “fast western” is a reference to the railroad (formerly called the “Texas Western” railroad before the name was changed to “Southern Pacific”), as much as to the tempo of the music, which evokes the train rhythms, among other things.

Marshall Texas, Birthplace of Boogie Woogie Spring Festival 2012

88

mrearl 09.21.13 at 12:54 am

Mick v. Bruce? Easy. Mick rope-a-dopes down the dark alley, to where Keith puts a shiv ‘tween Bruce’s ribs. And they all live happily ever after.

The relationship between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards is profoundly mysterious, and if we could bottle that essence we might capture rock ‘n roll in an elixir.

It is still my ambition to outlive Keith, a major goal in my life, but the bastard may be gaining.

89

Harold 09.21.13 at 12:54 am

I wish Martin Scorsese or Ken Burns could have used some input from Mack MacCormick or even Nat Hentoff, in their blues documentaries. These are the people who really know the stuff — and there are many others, likewise overlooked.

90

engels 09.21.13 at 1:25 am

We had Rumors; Exile on Main Street; a 6-album box set of “the History of Country Music”; Robert Johnson, Bukka White, that kind of country blues; the soundtrack to the movie “The Harder They Come”; a Best of the Carter Family; Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison; Dylan’s John Wesley Harding…

So you had a handful of great records and one which blows goats? Interesting…

91

Anderson 09.21.13 at 1:34 am

86: right as always, Belle.

92

Tony Lynch 09.21.13 at 1:54 am

Time to put the bottle down (it’s empty anyway) pull down the blinds, turn off the lights, and put on Far Away Eyes…

93

Ronan(rf) 09.21.13 at 3:18 am

The harder they come is a great record. The film’s alright

94

godoggo 09.21.13 at 3:32 am

That was made during an amazing couple of years for reggae. Any compilation from that time is great.

95

Ronan(rf) 09.21.13 at 3:39 am

Any?

96

godoggo 09.21.13 at 3:47 am

Well, the Trojan comps covering say ’71-’73 that I’ve heard have all been great.

97

Ronan(rf) 09.21.13 at 3:53 am

My apologies godoggo i misjudged some snark

98

godoggo 09.21.13 at 4:22 am

Whatevs.

99

David (Kid Geezer). 09.21.13 at 4:32 am

@Sandwichman: It just dawned on me that The Big Lebowski was (very loosely) a Gram Parsons biography!. Hilarious. Since Jeff Dowd has been maintaining for years that it is based on him.

100

David (Kid Geezer). 09.21.13 at 4:36 am

Nope. Peter Green Fleetwood Mac definitely the best iteration.

101

Terry 09.21.13 at 5:04 am

So David (@71), did WBZ – late at night – with Tom Rush there in the studio – give you a song by a 17-year-old girl from Saskatchewan?

102

js. 09.21.13 at 5:07 am

Since Rumors has come up several times, might as well plug the one song I do love on there. …And how I can came to love it.*

*OK, that bit is only half-true.

103

Tad Richards 09.21.13 at 5:24 am

This far with no mention of Ray Charles? Wow.

104

Chris Bertram 09.21.13 at 9:07 am

#103 > #27

105

Chris Bertram 09.21.13 at 9:10 am

Sandwichman @78: I’m pleased to report that your comment provoked some very animated after-dinner conversation last night!

106

David J. Littleboy 09.21.13 at 2:50 pm

Re: Bruce Willis vs. Mick: It ain’t a slam dunk. (Well, it is, but Bruce is way better than I would have guessed.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDXkd2NyCCE

“give you a song by a 17-year-old girl from Saskatchewan?”

Hmm. Joni at 17 would have made that 1960 or so (wiki reports that Rush started performing in 61), and that’s a bit before my time, but I do remember hearing Rush doing Rockport Sunday live on the radio, probably WTBS (before they sold the name to Ted Turner and changed it to Walker Memorial Basement Radio (WMBR)) or WHRB, when it was new and I was more like 16 than 9. FWIW, Rush’s first recording of a Joni tune was on the 1968 Circle Game album. I had the album before that, and remember him singing a verse of Who Do You Love as “Whom Do You Love” (live, not on the album) for all the English majors out there. Those were two seriously great albums.

107

Sandwichman 09.21.13 at 3:18 pm

Chris @105, the clincher:

A tougher get was Townes Van Zandt’s cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers,” which plays over Lebowski’s closing credits. “[Former Stones manager] Allen Klein owns the rights to it,” Burnett says. “He wanted $150,000.” Burnett begged Klein to just come down and watch an early cut of Lebowski. “It got to the part where the Dude says, ‘I hate the fuckin’ Eagles, man!’ Klein stands up and says, ‘That’s it, you can have the song!’ That was beautiful.” For the record, Burnett agrees with the Dude (“[The Eagles] sort of single-handedly destroyed that whole scene that was brewing back then,” he says), but the line infuriated Glenn Frey. “I ran into [Frey] and he gave me some shit,” Jeff Bridges says. “I can’t remember what he said exactly, but my anus tightened a bit.

108

Bryan 09.23.13 at 7:25 am

Two things:

1.) No love for the International Submarine Band? “Blue Eyes” and “Luxury Liner” are two of Gram’s finest songs.

2.) Richie Unterberger has two excellent books covering the history of folk-rock (and British folk-rock and country-rock), “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “Eight Miles High”. Obviously, he really loves the Byrds, but covers lots of other artists famous and obscure.

109

Chris Bertram 09.23.13 at 1:04 pm

@Bryan thanks. Though Luxury Liner is one case where I prefer the Emmylou version

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