Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Gram Parsons: Grievous Angel

Gram Parsons was many things in his short life, but what lives on his his music, and Grievous Angel (1974) was his last recorded work before his untimely death at just 26 years of age. Parsons was a champion of the hybrid mix of country and rock in a format he dubbed “Cosmic American Music.”

Grievous Angel was his second solo album, and featured his supernatural vocal blend with Emmylou Harris.

I freely admit this music didn’t reach my ears until many years after his death, but Parsons was hanging out with Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones during the recording of Exile On Main Street and was instrumental in the country influence that permeated those sessions.

Basically, Parsons was reaching me before I knew who he was, and now I am fully finding myself being tremendously influenced by the Americana of the man’s music. In particular, I grew up on Nazareth’s version of Love Hurts, to the point I ignorantly thought it was an original of theirs.

A few years back I saw a live performance video of Keith Richards and Norah Jones doing this achingly beautiful rendition of it, and started doing a little research (which pointed me to the version with Parsons and Harris on Grievous Angel). Now that I know the depth of the song I don’t love the Nazareth version any less, but to my ears, there is simply no topping Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris.

Some voices are just on another level when they interact, and I’m so glad I have always had a curious and open mind when it comes to music. Grievous Angel is golden, and I am far from finished exploring its riches.

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