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August 28, 2012 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Gram Parsons: Fallen Angel - An excellent 90 minute BBC documentary, the story of the legendary country rock pioneer as told by contemporary musicians, family, and friends. It includes rare performance footage. (Via Dangerous Minds)

Mefi Gram Compendium
Zipping through the days at lightning speed - by dersins

Grievous Angel - by moi

You be Emmylou, and I'll be Gram - by transient

Close up the honkeytonks - Obit post for Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Flying Burrito Brothers steel guitarist extraordinaire - by keswick

The Manolo, he has the blog - the man who tailored Gram's famous suit - by IndigoJones
posted by madamjujujive (17 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
I hope this is still up tonight when I get home, because this scratches my itch, miss annie rich madamjujujive.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:35 PM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Stunning. Thanks for this.
posted by timsteil at 3:45 PM on August 28, 2012

Yes, this is essential. Snively Groves, eh? I did not know that about GP.
posted by chavenet at 3:47 PM on August 28, 2012

Being from Waycross, I've heard about Gram quite often, especially from musician friends. I've only checked out the first little bit, but this looks like it's really well done.
posted by bizzyb at 4:06 PM on August 28, 2012

Oh, definitely on my "must see" list.

I may have mentioned this before, but I think that Gram Parsons suffers from a sort of thing I associate with many musical innovators. To whit, if you listen to his music in context of this century, it doesn't necessarily sound all that ground breaking. This is because hundreds of musicians - many more successful than he - emulated his style and developed it. In a culture where most country rock owes a debt to Parsons, his work doesn't sound all that ground breaking.

If, on the other hand, you can put yourself in the frame of mind of what music sounded like before Parsons, you recognize that he was taking giant steps in a new direction.

Surely, on hopes, a person who can't recognize Parsons' enormous influence on music can at least appreciate his musicianship and songwriting. I offer this as evidence.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:18 PM on August 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

Thanks for this. Nothing spends more time on my turntable than Gram Parsons, master of the jilted love song.

"Every time I hear your name, I wanna die." Devastating.
posted by Lorin at 4:41 PM on August 28, 2012

I love Gram Parsons. I can't wait to watch this.

This post about Swedish duo First Aid Kit led me to the song "Emmylou" which namechecks GP.
posted by padraigin at 4:44 PM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

I offer this as evidence.

I'm saying this as a huge fan of Parsons, classic country, and a guy who is getting ready to marry the greatest girl who ever lived.

That's about the saddest fucking song in the world.

Great documentary, thank for posting mjjj. I've been watching/listening while working on my resume so I can get a job in the city where above-mentioned greatest girl lives!
posted by marxchivist at 5:13 PM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

That's about the saddest fucking song in the world.

Absolutely. When he sings "it's been a bad, bad day," I want to give him a hug and a beer and tell him everything is going to be all right.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:36 PM on August 28, 2012

Even though I know that "everything is going to be all right" is a lie.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:37 PM on August 28, 2012

omg ♥

I saw Emmylou Harris perform a few weeks ago, and it just killed me when she played "Wheels". I will watch this tonight, thank you for the link!
posted by bewilderbeast at 7:08 PM on August 28, 2012

First learned of Gram via Leeds punks The Mekons who covered Thousand Dollar Wedding, and have loved his work since. I may have been the man to introduce it to China via CD giveaways to my local once I'd ripped them, but no doubt his genius preceded me amongst folk of good taste.
posted by Abiezer at 7:20 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I never met Gram Parsons but, for what its worth, I did meet his long time cohort and Flying Burrito Brothers co-founder Chris Ethridge. It was 1967 and he was playing bass and piano in Judy Collins’ band back then.

Bob and Betty and I stopped at a restaurant after the concert. Then the band came in. We thought to go over and congratulate them on a great show, but we decided to just let them be. Then Chris Ethridge came over to our table and introduced himself. Betty was a very pretty girl and that may have influenced his “thinking”.

Long story short: we went back with the band to their motel, smoked pot, and watched a black and white movie about a giant mutant praying mantis. And that was all that happened, except that Chris sincerely told me that, if I ever had the chance to, I should meet John Hartford because he was a wonderful person.

Cut to 1970. My girlfriend, Michelle, and I are at a John Hartford concert at our college. Michelle wasn’t afraid of anything and she liked John Hartford, so she paraded around in front of the stage a time or three to attract his attention. After the concert there was a dinner reception for Hartford and the band with the Dean of Students and other dignitaries. So we crashed it.

Hartford had to be there, but his band passed on the thing and the people running it must have figured that we looked like part of the tour, so they not only didn’t hassle us, but they gave us a table next to the big shots. Then, during the after dinner schmooze, Hartford escaped from the deans and took refuge at our table. We were fine until I joked to Michelle that she should take that joint out of her handbag and fire it up. So she did.

As our guest, John was next after Michelle. Being on unfamiliar ground and not wanting to look like a wuss, he took a deep hit and handed it to me. So it was put up or shut up for me. We smoked the joint down to an oily roach and no one ever caught on.
posted by Huplescat at 7:34 PM on August 28, 2012 [7 favorites]

Oh gawd, Huplescat, I can't stop laughing...
posted by notsnot at 7:52 PM on August 28, 2012

By the way, if you ever get the chance, please go stay at the Joshua Tree Inn, where Gram died. It is, all sad things aside, my happiest place on earth.

You can do anything from light desert hiking (bring a water bottle, even in December) to serious rock climbing in the national park, and there are a couple fun little local bars and restaurants (with pretty good food!) in town. Or you can just bring a few bottles of wine and a bag of groceries with you, rent one of the rooms with a kitchenette and a private patio (I like the Donovan suite myself), and commune with yourself. Perhaps one of the resident cats will wander in and hang out with you, maybe it'll even sleep on your feet after you've shared some complimentary wine and maybe a little impromptu jam session in the main building's common room that evening (BYOGuitar for sure but IIRC the innkeepers usually crack at least a couple bottles to get things going for everyone).

You can wake up in the morning, enjoy a fairly extensive breakfast buffet in the morning (fresh fruits, yogurt, eggs, coffee, tea, juice), then go for a swim in the pool before venturing back out into the desert.

If it doesn't help you understand Gram a little better, then probably nothing will. It's an amazing little motel in an amazing and crazy-beautiful part of the universe.
posted by padraigin at 8:23 PM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

The last few minutes, with the sister talking about the joshua tree incident, is just devastating--fantastic documentary work.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:16 PM on August 28, 2012

padraigin, that First Aid song you linked to has such a beautifully crafted lyric.

I'll be your Emmylou and I'll be your June
And you'll be my Gram and my Johnny too
You know I'm not asking much of you
Just sing little darling sing with me

posted by DigDoug at 6:09 AM on August 29, 2012

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