“Late 1980s sometime, date a bit vague because I was convalescing at the time, coming off a prolonged ailment that, in retrospect, had at least something to do with a disease in my soul. Which made it the perfect time to finally discover the music of Gram Parsons. Yeah, I’d heard of him, how he pretty much invented country rock, hooked up with Keith Richard, turned heroin blue way before his time. But now via random discovery of his only two solo albums at a yard sale, I was actually hearing his soul, because that’s what it was (still is), his take on so-called Country. Soul music, grievous and angelic. And precisely what I hadn’t been hearing pretty much my entire life, which was a white man digging deep into the roots of his own music, finding some beauty therein. If you don’t like Country, you don’t really like me.” (Philip Random)
“No, Nazareth didn’t f***ing write Love Hurts. It was Boudleaux Bryant, a guy who most definitely knew a thing or two about love and how it simultaneously sets you free as the wind and carves raw chunks out of your soul. My essential version has to be Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris’s take — quiet, heartfelt, grievous and true. Unfortunately, Mr. Parsons would be dead before the world ever heard it.” (Philip Random)
As the story goes, the Byrds invented country rock in 1968 with the arrival of new guy Gram Parsons, the album known as Sweetheart of the Rodeo. It didn’t sell that well. There were no big deal hit singles. Mr. Parsons himself would be gone before the next album, chasing his own particular dreams and oblivions. But it seemed to stick anyway – the notion of putting country’s yearning and twang in service of the rock. It certainly worked for You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere, a Bob Dylan nugget from perhaps the world’s most famous basement, wherein winter’s a-howling and Genghis Khan is running low on sheep for his kings, but the times are good regardless.
Los Angeles, 1969, murder, mayhem, earthquakes, rumors of Armageddon, the whole city of angels falling into the Pacific, such that even on the 33rd Floor, beyond the gold plated door, the Lord’s almighty flame would find the wicked, and soon. Meanwhile, country rock was getting invented by a curious crowd of drugged out hippies in cowboy suits calling themselves the Flying Burrito Brothers. Good times.
“The experts say that Gilded Palace of Sin, the first Flying Burrito Brothers album, more or less invented so-called Country Rock. I say, it’s simply one of the best albums I’ve ever heard, pretty much flawless from beginning to end, with Christine’s Tune the twang-driven rocker that kicks it all off. And f*** you, heroin, for derailing what Gram Parsons was so gloriously up to.” (Philip Random)
Installment #2 of what we’re calling The Research Series aired Sunday, March-18-2018.
The plan is for a total of forty-nine movies, each forty-nine minutes long, featuring no particular artist, working no particular theme, pursuing no particular agenda beyond boldly going … who knows? Or as Werner Von Braun once put it, “Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.” And we definitely have no idea where all this will take us.
002. reSEARCH – liars + rivers
Gram Parsons + Emmylou Harris – love hurts
Van Morrison – you don’t pull no punches but you don’t push the river
Bill Bruford – Sahara of snow [part 1]
George Harrison – in the bed
Canned Heat – on the road again
Tony Wilson – Saturn [fragment]
Rip Rig + Panic – liars [part 2]
Sly + the Family Stone – spaced cowboy
Bourbonese Qualk – boggy creek
John Lee Hooker – doin’ the shout
Young Marble Giants – searching for Mr Right
Crusaders – that’s how I feel
Further installments of the Research Stuff will air most Sundays at approximately 1am (Pacific time) c/o CiTR.FM.101.9, with streaming and download options usually available within twenty-four hours via our Facebook page.
“Gram Parsons’ Grievous Angel being perhaps the one album more than any other that made me realize just how wrong I could be about what constitutes great f***ing music. Because I was that kind of fool when I was younger – happy to tell you just how much I hated ALL country music. And I’m sure I was loud about it. Sorry. I know better now. I know that hating all of any kind of music is like hating a part of your soul. Because in what other form could you take a simple song about a simple wedding gone wrong and turn it into something epic, apocalyptic even. Because such are human souls – we’ve all got entire universes exploding inside of us. And why would you want to deny any of that?” (Philip Random)
“Second of two in a row from Gilded Palace of Sin, the Flying Burrito Brothers’ debut masterpiece of countrified rock. Because you can’t really hear one Burrito without the other, both apparently concerning the same girl, the same tormented relationship, which of course only makes the country stylings more relevant. Or as Motron puts it, ‘the country stuff set the drugged out hippie rock stars free to mix whiskey and heroin and broken hearts – a terrible way to live, but it sure made for some kickass and essential music.” (Philip Random)
Gram Parsons was dead before the world ever heard his final album, Grievous Angel. Which made In My Hour Of Darkness, its final song (completely concerned with people who had died before their time) all too relevant, particularly the part where he sings his own eulogy: he was just a country boy his simple songs confess – and the music he had in him so very few possess. Who says there’s no such thing as ghosts? And angels, because that’s Emmylou Harris singing backup.