Turn, Turn, Turn

Today was Gram Parsons’s birthday.


9 Responses to Turn, Turn, Turn

  1. Andrei says:

    Was Gram Parson’s birthday just an excuse to play some Byrds jingle jangle – sweet though it is?

    Gram Parsons was in the Byrds for a short while long after they released that song. He more or less took over while he was playing with them developing what became alternate country and country rock along the way. He was a great song writer, musician and is responsible for a whole generation of American musicians including the awesome Emmy Lou Harris who he more or less created.

    Byrds jingle jangle is tight harmonies and accompanied by Roger McGuinn’s 12 string Rickenbacker which he flat picked like a country guitar player at the same tiem playing banjo style finger rolls with his middle and ring finger at the same time – fantastic, he was a five string banjo player before picking up the Rickenbacker.

    Pity you couldn’t post a video of Gram Parsons singing one of his own songs with Emmy Lou singing back up – but I guess there isn’t much of him on film because he didn’t get really famous ’til after he died, so it goes.


  2. Paul Tremewan says:

    Andrei/ HP That is a good comment, and you are right about his role with The Byrds, which was not as significant as Roger McG (and a very fine observation on R.McG’s guitar techniques: those Richenbackers are pretty valuable these days… and I still don’t have one in the collection!) or Gene Clark and Crosby and later with the fabulous sound brought to the group by Chris Hillman ( Brilliant in Desert Rose Band). I believe Parson’s role in The Byrds was enhanced by his dope death and where it took place ( in the desert, while staying in The Joshua Tree Motel (pointer for U2 fans). And he WAS responsible for calling up Emmylou and ‘demanding’ that she leave her then home and come touring… and the rest, as they say, is history. Well for him it WAS history! Unfortunately, notwithstanding the view in the very fine book by Nicholas Dawidoff ‘In the Country of the Country’… my personal belief is that Gram Parson’s role in the nativity of country rock is overly lauded due to his death which was more rock star than Hank Williams! Parsons spent a lot of time with Mick and the boys prior to Altamont, and thought that he was going to be asked to join The Stones… the closest he got was just being stoned…


  3. Andrei says:

    due to his death which was more rock star than Hank Williams!

    I don’t know Paul, Hank died way back in 1953 aged 29, in the back of a chauffeur driven Cadillac after injecting himself with morphine which is an archetypal rock star death – prototypical really since there weren’t any rock stars yet when he died


  4. Andrei says:

    Further to the last comment and to tie in with the rest of the thread here is Emmylou singing a song about Hank’s death


  5. homepaddock says:

    Thank you both for all of that. I didn’t realise that Parsons wasn’t with the Byrds when they sang that song. I’d mentally tossed a coin between that and Emmylou so will post that one now.


  6. Paul Tremewan says:

    Andrei / HP
    Of course you are right about Hank, Andrei… the comparison / differentiation seemed a good line when I wrote it! And Hank (whose life is well recorded both in film and print) was essentially the country tragic, a chronic alcoholic, but a songwriter whose songs have stood the test of time. I always keep a Hank cd in the stack in the truck! [The Time Life Unreleased Recordings… brilliant] And his death in the back of the Cadillac with his 17 year old hired boy at the wheel, is forever embedded in country music lore. And of course it was this that first enflamed my fascination with the quintessential big flash all-American Caddy!


  7. Rob Hosking says:

    Ele: you don’t need any excuse to post ‘Turn Turn Turn’ anyway. Its a great song, lyrics lifted from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

    Parsons was probably a bigger influence on music through his influence on the Rolling Stones – their run of four great albums (Beggars Banquet+Let it Bleed+Sticky Fingers+Exile on Main St) is full of country-tinged songs.

    Someone – probably Nick Hornby – has pointed out the whole alt-country genre is basically what the Stones were doing between 1968-72.

    Personally I think the great Parsons influenced song is Emmy Lou Harris’s ‘Boulder to Birmingham’ which is her tribute to the guy.

    Although I think the lyrics get a bit weak in the second verse, the song is an immensely powerful emotional performance, shot through with survivor’s grief and guilt. Very moving.


  8. pdm says:

    Perhaps we are musical neanderthals but both mrs pdm and I prefer The Seekers version.


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