Gram Parsons – Grievous AngelReprise, 1974
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2012
Outside of hearing “$1000 Wedding” on KJHK a couple of times, I’d never listened to Gram Parsons until I was driving down a two-lane highway in the middle of Missouri on a bit of a reprieve from a hectic, rainy wedding at Knob Noster State Park. I put my iPod to shuffle and “Return of the Grievous Angel” was the first track that came on. I had a moment, driving in the rain to a Wal-Mart in some backwoods redneck township, and it was a beautiful moment. Where you go “Yes, this song will be a staple on every ‘My Favorite Songs of All Time’ mix from now and forever Amen.” As an album, it feels a bit cobbled together (Grievous Angel was released four months after Parsons’ drug-overdose death in 1973) but the songs are so good and Parsons vision is so clear that it doesn’t really matter. Someday they’ll make a biopic of the man (read his Wikipedia page and tell me that doesn’t read like some incredibly ripe subject matter for a biopic, especially the bit his friends kidnapping his body post-mortem) and he’ll get the fame he deserves for pretty much creating alt-country and Americana as it is today. And as special as Parsons is as a tunesmith, it’s his collaboration with Emmylou Harris that makes you want to lay down and die it’s so fucking good. Their duet of “Love Hurts” comes in a close second for best version of that song (second only to the Robert Pollard/Kim Deal version because, you know, c’mon!) and “Return of the Grievous Angel” wouldn’t be one of my favorite songs of all time without incredibly heart-wrenching back-up vox cutting through the fiddles and right into my soul.