On Monday I had a really cool experience that involved swinging on a swing while telling the story of Gram Parsons's life and death to two strangers and two of my friends. We were in Laurel Canyon and my audience was sitting before me on a wooden bench; I was drinking champagne from a jar and wearing my new Gram Parsons shirt that looks like this. It all started because someone asked me to explain the plot of the movie Grand Theft Parsons, which I've never actually seen. "GRAM PARSONS WAS BORN A REALLY LONG TIME IN SOME TOWN IN FLORIDA I CAN'T REMEMBER THE NAME OF," I began, logically. "His family was very, very rich! They owned citrus orchards or something." I took them through Gram's dad's suicide and his mom's drinking-herself-to-death, all the way to Gram's overdosing at the Joshua Tree Inn when he was 26-years-old. A funny part was when one of the stranger-dudes was all, "Why do you keep smiling about everything? THIS STORY IS SUPER-SAD," which is a great point. But I'm a smiler, I smile my way through most sad stories.
Anyway the point is love Gram Parsons more than anything right now and I want everyone else to love him too. And I know you can't force that kind of love on anyone, but here's seven good reasons why you should maybe consider making Gram Parsons your new number-one dream boy, at least for the summertime:
i. UMMMMMMMM CUZ HE WROTE ALL THESE GREAT SONGS THAT WILL BREAK YOUR HEART FOREVER IN THE MOST BEAUTIFULLY FORTIFYING WAY? Duh. Last year my friend Tim made me a Spotify playlist cutely titled "Liz Parsons," which is a pretty solid Gram Parsons primer. It's missing some of my faves by the Flying Burrito Brothers, like "Just Can't Be" and "Older Guys" and "The Train Song," but whatevsies. If you're really deeply curious about Gram Parsons though, or if you're a person who's generally into gorgeous music, then you should absolutely buy the album Another Side of This Life. It's just Gram and his guitar, and he covers "Cod'ine" by Buffy Sainte-Marie, my second-favorite "Cod'ine" cover after the one by Ver Sacrum (a now-defunct band starring Laura Jane Faulds). My second-biggest triumph of Monday, after Gram Parsons champagne swingset storytelling hour, was telling this famous musician dude to listen to Another Side of This Life. I feel like he's not gonna follow through but what I can I do about that, I'm only one woman.
ii. HE WAS THE CUTEST HAM. Gram the ham! I'm talking about the handful of music videos the Flying Burrito Brothers made, including:
a. the "Older Guys" video, where Gram is dancing up a storm, on a boat, in tight white pants:
(BTW there's a part in the documentary Fallen Angel where someone makes fun of Gram for dancing like Mick Jagger in the "Older Guys," but I don't know, I think it's just the most adorbs thing I've ever seen. Kind of a gross thought, but I wonder if Gram would have gotten by a little better if he'd existed at a time that was more conducive to his becoming "a video star.")
b. the "Christine's Tune" video, where Gram does this cutesy 'Ladies and gentlemen: Chris Hillman!!!!" gesture right when it's Chris Hillman's turn to sing (aka at 0:26).
c. the "Hot Burrito #1" video, where Gram puts his sunglasses on halfway through the first verse, sings the next few lines, then takes his sunglasses off again. That is such a good move. If more dudes in my immediate universe had even half the wherewithal displayed by Gram in that moment, then, I don't know - I'd probably be into way more actual dudes instead of falling for dead rock stars all the time.
iii. THE GRAM/KEITH RICHARDS BROMANCE IS SO ENDLESSLY ENDEARING TO ME. I don't have much to write about this at the moment, on account of the fact that I just got an idea for a short story mega-loosely based on said bromance. For now I'll just tell you that whenever you get to the part in any Gram Parsons-inclusive rock history where it's time for Gram to get kicked out of Nellcôte, it's always epically sad. This is my fave pic of those two crazy babies:
iv. THE GRAM/JONATHAN RICHMAN BROMANCE IS ALSO SO ENDLESSLY ENDEARING TO ME. I don't know much about it, beyond the fact that they were sorta pals played music together and Gram got Jonathan into all this country music. I just really like the idea of Gram Parsons and Jonathan Richman hanging out, these two baby-faced boy-weirdos with their cute little voices. Total heart-melter.
v. I DIG HIS PACIFISM. I watched Gimme Shelter the other night. I was "in a bad place" and sometimes bad vibes on top of bad vibes have the weird effect of evening me out. The Flying Burrito Brothers played Altamont but in Gimme Shelter you only get to see the back of Gram's head, which is such a drag. Still, there's a part where Gram's trying to calm the crowd in his little-boy voice and it's really sweet and lightened my heart:
vi. I ALSO DIG HIS PENMANSHIP. A couple weeks ago I read Grievous Angel: An Intimate Biography of Gram Parsons, which is so fawning and excessively romantic that I can't believe it was written by someone who isn't me. I really liked it; it's a good read. The author got her hands on a bunch of love letters Gram wrote to his girlfriend when he was 13, most of which he wraps up with the line "Well, I gotta make like a door and close." His handwriting is so pretty and girly. Gram was always a romantic.
vii. HE WAS JUST VERY BEAUTIFUL AND I DON'T THINK I'LL EVER GET TIRED OF GAZING UPON HIS BEAUTIFUL ANGELIC FACE. And I don't care if I'm objectifying him. Objectifying beautiful sad rock-star boys is one of the things I'm best at, and I promise to never ever stop. So here are some beautiful pictures of beautiful Gram Parsons, with whom we are all now finally so madly in love:
(FYI This is Gram at Harvard, where - fun fact! - his classmates included Al Gore.)
(These last two are Gram at Joshua Tree; that's him and Anita Pallenberg. Gram loved Joshua Tree and it seems nice to end with him being happy and free.)
Every time I hear his cover of "The Dark End of the Street" my heart breaks a bit.ReplyDelete
Other heartbreakers: "You Don't Miss Your Water", "Wild Horses"
whoa i don't think i'd ever listened to 'you don't miss your water' till right this second. he's too muchDelete
Liz - I couldn't have said it better! I never get tired of listening to, looking at, or reading about Gram. For me, Gram's biggest heartbreaker is "A Song for You." Fun article. I love your blog name, too.ReplyDelete
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Liz--you are rad. Not only because of the fact that you seem to love Gram as much as I do, but your writing style kicks ass. I LOVE this...thank you! P.S. I have the same shirt and no one ever knows WTF it is. Keep on rockin. -RobinReplyDelete
awww thanks so much! that is all so awesome to hear (except the part about no one ever knowing who gram parsons is) xoxoDelete