Friday, March 28, 2008

No. 429: Grievous Angel

Band: Gram Parsons
Album: Grievous Angel
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Gram Parsons' final album was recorded just weeks before Parson's death. Teaming with Emmylou Harris, Parsons' voice fills the country tracks he wrote and the country standards they played.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I like the Flying Burrito Brothers, but Parsons' solo stuff is way too country for me.
Best song: "Hearts on Fire" is a great, great track.
Worst song: I don't love "Ooh Las Vegas."
Is it awesome?: Eh.

Gram Parsons is a wonderful songwriter and Emmylou Harris has a beautiful voice. Parsons' writing is wry and clever, his band is tight and cool. Their sound is clever.

But, here's the thing: I hear this record and all that fills my mind is the episode of the Simpsons where Homer becomes an agent for a country singer. The episode features a country-western bar and a TV show called "Ya-Hoo!," a parody of "Hee-Haw."

So... I, uh, can't really speak to the efficacy of this record. I really like "Hearts on Fire" and the "Medley Live from Northern Quebec," but this enjoyment came solely from the vocals. Fiddles and slide guitar just don't do it for me.

I hear this record and I think of the townie bar where I went to college, full of toothless truckers and cheap American beer. It's down the street from the gun shop and Regina's, the grosser of the town's two strip clubs.

I, as you can see, am an extremely prejudiced man.


padraig said...

this seems, with all respect to the departed, like one of those records whose reputation REALLY benefits from dude being dead. sometimes that's warranted, like with "Dock of the Bay" or "Closer", but I always thought "Grievous Angel" was overrated. then again I never really cared about the Band or the Byrds either (though I do kinda like "Gilded Palace of Sin") so country rock's not really my thing. nor is alt country, which I generally can't stand - and despite his clearly massive influence on it I suspect Gram Parsons probably would have despised alt country had he lived to see it.

SoulBoogieAlex said...

To not appreciate "Grievous Angel" is to not appreciate good song writing. As I commented before, personal music preference is fine, but one has to be able to keep an open mind to music to be able to pull a full review of the RS 500 off. "Grievous Angel", in my humble opinion, transcends the genre its played in purely by the sheer brilliance in song writing alone. Though the music on this album isn't to shabby either.

toppop100 said...

I'm not a country music fan at all (and I also dislike 'alt country'), but I love this album. I'd argue that the songwriting is strong enough that the album will appeal to people who aren't into country music per se. I particular, I'd say that '$1000 Wedding' is one of the most haunting songs ever recorded. It's spellbinding - and best listened to with the lights off.