9 Songs, 36 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Gram Parsons was loath to describe his music as country-rock. He preferred the phrase “cosmic American music” to express his sonic stew of blues, country, soul, gospel, and rock ‘n’ roll. But it wasn’t until his sophomore solo album, Grievous Angel, that this vision was fully formed—despite a looser musicianship on his part due to substance abuse catching up with him. This is evident with a puffier-faced Parsons on the album cover and his slack vocals contrasting Emmylou Harris’ in-the-pocket singing in the opening duet, “Return of the Grievous Angel.” While that song is steeped in Bakersfield-flavored honky-tonk, Parsons' rendition of Tom T. Hall’s “I Can’t Dance” blends barroom boogie-blues with twangy guitars and soulful harmonies to cement his cosmic American music sound. With the heartfelt ballad “Brass Buttons”—a song lamenting the loss of his mother—Parsons drove this amalgam of genres into ballad territory. The mournful “$1000 Wedding” is another great example of how Parsons could effortlessly braid soul and hillbilly music into epic tearjerkers.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Gram Parsons was loath to describe his music as country-rock. He preferred the phrase “cosmic American music” to express his sonic stew of blues, country, soul, gospel, and rock ‘n’ roll. But it wasn’t until his sophomore solo album, Grievous Angel, that this vision was fully formed—despite a looser musicianship on his part due to substance abuse catching up with him. This is evident with a puffier-faced Parsons on the album cover and his slack vocals contrasting Emmylou Harris’ in-the-pocket singing in the opening duet, “Return of the Grievous Angel.” While that song is steeped in Bakersfield-flavored honky-tonk, Parsons' rendition of Tom T. Hall’s “I Can’t Dance” blends barroom boogie-blues with twangy guitars and soulful harmonies to cement his cosmic American music sound. With the heartfelt ballad “Brass Buttons”—a song lamenting the loss of his mother—Parsons drove this amalgam of genres into ballad territory. The mournful “$1000 Wedding” is another great example of how Parsons could effortlessly braid soul and hillbilly music into epic tearjerkers.

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