A Yearning for the Past, a Nod to the Present
By Michael Goldberg
The ghost of Gram Parsons haunts us. Well, maybe his ghost doesn’t haunt you, but it certainly shadows two recent albums, Son Volt’s Honky Tonk, and the Emmylou Harris/Rodney Crowell collaboration, Old Yellow Moon.
Gram Parsons made traditional county cool. In 1968 he was behind The Byrds’ right turn to country, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and his subsequent Flying Burrito Brothers albums, particularly The Gilded Palace of Sin, and two solo records define a sound that echoes right through to the present. Keith Richards famously palled around with Parsons long enough to blood-suck some of the young singer/songwriter’s country soul. ‘Honky Tonk Women’ wouldn’t have been written if not for Gram Parsons.
They say you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, but if, back in the late ‘60s, it was Gram Parsons leading that horse, well it was probably going to take a good long drink and come back for more. I was 15 in 1968 when I heard ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo.’ Before I put that album on, country music sucked. After I played it, wow!
Read the rest of this column at Addicted To Noise.
Two Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris collaborations: