Gram Parsons – An Underrated Songwriter?

Views and comments to this essay were lost when the site migrated. Fortunately I kept them at my blog. Re-posting:

M. Browning Vogel: “Nice essay. I agree that Parsons was a great lyricist, and always felt thus until I tried to cover a few of his songs. They really through me in how they were organized, not 1-4-5 and not verse-chorus-verse. He laid down some great chord progressions (see “Return of the Grievous Angel”). Upon studying his song architecture, I finally understood what people meant when they said he bridged rock and country.”

Ruth: “I’ve waited a long time to read this sort of writing (your post and also the comments above) about GP – ever since first hearing “Hickory Wind” on Sweetheart of the Rodeo… Was grateful for the David Meyer bio a few years back but there’s been precious little that looked at Gram’s writing in the greater context of singer-songwriters and/or southern literature. He was an outstanding songwriter – though I still think he was his own best interpreter…. Thank you for writing this.”

Trip Allen: “Great article. Thanks. I had to get into my fifties before I could slow my life down enough to fully appreciate the work of someone who died at 27. Humbling. Or, all the work before Hank passed at 29. My daddy is from Montgomery, and I’m happy he’s still around so I can sing those old songs to him. Tossing one in the ring regarding good covers of “Hot Burrito #1″, I recently saw Elizabeth Cook cover it, to that degree where she owned it for that moment. I had the feeling that Gram would have approved.”

James Spina: “Brilliant song observations. My son’s name is Gram so, of course, I’d agree …BUT…your case is so brilliantly presented. Thanks Will. And in regard to your comment that likely he and you and I will not be around…rest assured…my son will and so the message of Parson’s talent will fall yet again on BLESSED ears.”

Peter Knothe: “Wonderful Post! I totally agree with all sentiments expressed. It’s always good to be reminded of Gram’s genius. Thank you, Will James!! Now it’s back to my Gram albums…”

Larabee: “Nice article. When I started reading it, all I could think about were the songs that Gram recorded that were written by others. Seeing the list of his songs in this article fully supports your position.”

James Timmons: “Great article Will, I really enjoyed it. I got into Gram back in the late 70’s early 80’s as a punk in Manchester. I loved Elvis Costello and really loved the left turn he made when he recorded Almost Blue that included a couple of Gram tunes. I bought a compliation album at the time and fell in love immediately. I’ve been a massive fan since then and own everything he’s recorded. I also have all the various biographies and have even been over to the states to visit Grams favourite places including Georgia, Florida, LA and of course Joshua Tree. His best songs (for me) are $1,000 Dollar Wedding (covered by Willie Nelson no less) and Brass Buttons. Absolutely heartbreaking, alos his amazing duet with Emmylou – Love Hurts – Brilliant. Thank again for a great piece. Cheers James, Manchester”

Frank Bahnson: “Excellent piece…much of his music (Hickory Wind, etc) affects me like great impressionist art…I feel it and sense it more than just hearing it.”