Archive for the Gram Parsons Category

Friday Notes: Parsons, Adams, & WDVX Birthdays

Posted in Chris Stapleton, Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams, WDVX on November 5, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

*Gram Parsons was born November 5, 1946 in Winter Haven, Florida.  He passed away in September of 1973 following an overdose in Joshua Tree, California.  One year after Parsons’ death, Ryan Adams was born on November 5, 1974 in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Parsons was one of the most influential artists of the Country Rock movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s thanks to his solo work and his time with The International Submarine Band, The Byrds, and The Flying Burrito Brothers.  Adams was one of the most influential artists of the Country Rock movement of the 90’s and 2000’s thanks to his solo work and his time with the band Whiskeytown.

Parsons called his sound Cosmic American Music.  Adams helped carry the flag for the Alt-Country and Americana labels.

Parsons sounded great singing with Emmylou Harris.  Adams sounded great singing with Emmylou Harris.

Anyone believe in reincarnation?

Gram Parsons: In My Hour of Darkness (Buy Album)
Ryan Adams: Oh My Sweet Carolina (Buy Album)

*Today is also the day we celebrate the birthday of WDVX and thirteen years of bringing great Americana music to Knoxville and East Tennessee.  We’ll be celebrating all day today in our downtown studios at the Knoxville Visitors Center. You can stop by anytime help to us celebrate, pick up your premium item from the Fall Fund Drive, or make a donation to help keep the music going.

The celebration culminates tonight with Ferd’s Friday beginning at 6:00.  Ferd Moyse from the Hackensaw Boys and some of his friends will perform a free concert at the Visitors Center to help us celebrate.  Portions of the performance will be broadcast live on WDVX and

*Finally, a note for those of you wondering what Chris Stapleton has been up to since leaving The Steeldrivers earlier this year.  Stapleton did an interview with the Houston Press where he talks about his songwriting and his current rock band, The Jompson Brothers.

It’s funny.  I distinctly remember listening to the Hootie and the Blowfish album Cracked Rear View with Chris back in high school.  Now he’s co-writing #1 Country singles with Darius Rucker.

Weekend YouTube: Gram Parsons

Posted in Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams on October 31, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

This coming Friday, November 5, is the birthday of the father of Cosmic American Music… Gram Parsons.  He would have been 64.

Gram Parsons & Ryan Adams: Birthday Post

Posted in Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams, Whiskeytown on November 5, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Today is the birthday of two of my favorite musicians… Gram Parsons & Ryan Adams.

For more of an in-depth look at the two birthday boys, you can check out last year’s post. For now though, I’d just like to wish a happy 35th birthday to Ryan Adams and a happy would-have-been 63rd birthday to the late Gram Parsons.
Here’s one track featuring Gram with the Flying Burrito Brothers and one featuring Ryan with Whiskeytown.
The Flying Burrito Brothers: Christine’s Tune (Devil in Disguise) (Buy Album)
Whiskeytown: Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight (Buy Album)

Happy Birthday: Gram Parsons & Ryan Adams

Posted in Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams, Whiskeytown on November 5, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

Cecil Ingram Connor (Gram Parsons) was born November 5, 1946 into a wealthy family in Winter Haven, Florida and grew up living a very privileged lifestyle. As a nine year old, Gram saw Elvis Presley play a concert in his hometown and decided to become a musician himself.

At the age of twelve, Gram’s father committed suicide. A few years later, his mother remarried, and Cecil Ingram Connor adopted his new step father’s surname… legally changing his name to Gram Parsons.

As a teenager, Parsons continued to pursue his dream of becoming a musician, playing in various bands throughout his high school years. One band, The Legends, also featured future music stars Jim Stafford (“Spiders and Snakes”) and Kent Lavoie (“Me and You and a Dog Named Boo”). After high school, Gram attended Harvard University as a theology student, but dropped out after just one semester that was devoted more to music than studies.

His time at Harvard was not completely wasted, however. It was during his time in the Ivy League that Gram put together the International Submarine Band, the group that would help him solidify his vision of a mixture of country and rock. It was a sound Gram called “Cosmic American Music.” The group spent some time in New York before relocating to Los Angeles to record their debut album Safe at Home in 1967. By the time the album was released in 1968, The International Submarine Band had disbanded and Gram was on to other things.

From there, Gram’s story is well documented. He joined the Byrds in time to serve as a major influence on the sound of their 1968 Americana masterpiece Sweetheart of the Rodeo. He went on to form the Flying Burrito Brothers with Chris Hillman and record two solo albums that introduced the world to Emmylou Harris. He also became close friends with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and greatly influenced some of the Stones’ country tinged songs such as “Wild Horses” and “Dead Flowers.”

Gram’s prolific output and tremendous influence masked what was becoming a serious addiction to drugs and alcohol. He still had access to a massive trust fund that was amassed through his family’s success in the Florida orange grove business, and he used that trust to support his habits. Keith Richards once said that Gram had better drugs than the Mafia.

Gram’s habits caught up with him on September 19, 1973. On a trip to Joshua Tree National Park in California, Gram overdosed on a mixture of drugs and alcohol. The bizarre story of his death and the strange events that followed it can be found here.

It has been debated over and over as to Gram’s true influence on the country-rock movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Some view him as a true pioneer who originated and birthed an entire genre of music. Others see him as merely a piece of the puzzle… a tragic figure whose legend has outgrown his actual influence. Whatever your stance on that debate, his influence on future generations of artists cannot be debated. Many of today’s Americana and Alt-Country artists have publicly stated their love for Gram and his music and cite him as a central influence on their sound.

Which brings us to today’s other birthday boy, Ryan Adams…

Gram Parsons died in 1973. The following year, in 1974, Ryan Adams was born on what would have been Parsons’ 28th birthday. Now… I’m not one who believes in reincarnation or anything like that, but it isn’t hard to believe that at least part of Parsons’ spirit lives on in Adams’ music.

David Ryan Adams was born in Jacksonville, NC in 1974 and formed his first band, the raucous The Patty Duke Syndrome, as a teenager. In 1994, Adams formed Whiskeytown and began cranking out his own brand of Parsons inspired alt-country. Of course, Whiskeytown disbanded in 1999 after a brief and brilliant (if tumultuous) run that produced some very memorable moments. His recent recordings with his current backing band The Cardinals notwithstanding… Adams has been on his own ever since.

If you want to find out more about Ryan Adams, Payton over at This Mornin’ I am Born Again has a tremendous series of spotlight posts about Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown.

Now for today’s music…

I’m going to post a few songs from each artist that I think highlight their styles and similarities. We’ll start with a song called “A Song for You,” a Parsons original that first appeared on his 1972 album G.P. Whiskeytown’s cover comes from the 1999 Gram Parsons tribute album, Return of the Grievous Angel. After that… just a few of my favorites from each artist.

Gram Parsons: A Song for You (song removed by file host)
Whiskeytown: A Song for You (Buy Album)

The Flying Burrito Brothers: Cody Cody (Buy Album)
Ryan Adams & the Cardinals: The Hardest Part (Buy Album)
Gram Parsons: Ooh Las Vegas (Buy Album)
Whiskeytown: Drank Like a River (Buy Album)

Emmylou Harris: Boulder to Birmingham

Posted in Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons on September 18, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

Tomorrow is the 35th Anniversary of the death of Gram Parsons. He died September 19, 1973 in Joshua Tree, CA.

I’m not going to go into a detailed post about the crazy events surrounding his death. That can be found here.

I’m also not going to launch into a treatise on how much I love Gram’s music, or his concept of Cosmic American Music, or how much he’s influenced some of the artists of today.

Today, I’m simply going to offer a song written by Gram’s friend and duet partner Emmylou Harris (with Bill Danoff) after Gram’s death. This is the sound of pure, simple, beautiful, heartache.

Emmylou Harris: Boulder to Birmingham (Buy Album)