Thursday, November 5, 2009


he died from a drug overdose in a motel room in joshua tree on September 19 1973. he was 26 years old.

on one of the first desert trips ann took me on, we found the spot in joshua tree where parson's loony, tho somehow admirably principled, manager
had burned parson's stolen body. we didn't find it right off but ann was oddly determined to showcase her desert tracking skills. we circumnavigated a large(i mean, HUGE)rock formation once or twice & couldn't find the marker but ann was undeterred. she found the simple cement slab in a shaded area up close to the rock. there were various "contributions" to the simple marker from other intrepid travelers & groupies, all pretty mundane & expected & not worth mentioning. the feeling i got, out there in what is now my favorite american desert landscape, was simply loss, like standing on a mountain & watching a canyon burn.

it's not clear what parsons would have done had he lived but he contributed to making country cool to a lot of tight-assed hippies who had been sneering at it & dismissing it as counter-revolutionary. i can't say that he got me playing hank williams songs back in high school(an old album bobo had did that for me) but i don't doubt he touched some other kids that way. he gave us emmylou harris. he was a beautiful young man who burned away under the clear desert sky of california.

"It's a hard way to find out
That trouble is real
In a far away city
With a far away feel
But it makes me feel better
Each time it begins
Callin' me home
Hickory Wind
Keeps callin' me home
Hickory Wind


Blue Train said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blue Train said...

I have to confess that I have never fully seen what all of the fuss was about with Gram. No telling what he may have done as a more mature artist, but I don't find myself drawn to his music. Even "Hickory Wind" seems pretty tedious to my ear. As far as intros to country music, "Music From Big Pink" was better for country rock and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" for the real deal. I'm afraid that GP's primary legacy is that he died young (cutting a tragic figure) and gave us (as you pointed out) Emmylou Harris. Had either of those not been the case, I'm afraid GP might not have garnered the critical success he enjoys.

Or - maybe I'm just missing something here. Nice bit of writing here which will probably induce me to give him a fresh listen.