Gram Parsons was a master songwriter both on his own and in collaboration with others. It is no wonder that his songs are covered by many artists. I have picked some of the best ones and hereby present my Top 7 Gram Parsons Cover songs.
1) Jay Farrar’s wonderful rendition of Drugstore Truck Drivin’ Man (and Christine’s Tune as a bonus). Jay Farrar has a great voice, and he’s a good performer, this music just fits. He gets to pay tribute to the country part of his roots. Just fantastic!
“He’s been like a father to me
He’s the only DJ you can hear after three
I’m an all night musician in a rock ‘n’ roll band
And why he don’t like me, I can’t understand”
Written By Gram Parsons and Roger McGuinn
The song Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man details a moderately unpleasant on-air exchange between Ralph Emery and Roger McGuinn, the lead singer of the 1960s rock group The Byrds, concerning their 1968 appearance at The Grand Ole Opry. In that performance, the Byrds attempted unsuccessfully to convince traditional country music fans that their developing country rock sound was a legitimate part of the tradition.
2) I’ve chosen , A song for you performed by Whiskeytown (great vocal by Ryan Adams) and performed by Justin Townes Earle.
I couldn’t just pick one them, they’re both so god dam good and very different.
Justin Townes Earle:
“…So take me down to your dance floor
And I won’t mind the people when they stare
Paint a different color on your front door
And tomorrow we will still be there…”
Written by Gram Parsons
Here is a great compliment: “The song is absolutely hopeless, beyond despair. It’s the saddest song I’ve ever heard.” That was Rolling Stone magazine’s description of A Song for You in March 1973, reviewing the album on which it featured, GP.
3)My Uncle performed by Steve Earle.
Steve Earle is a hero of ours and a list like this would not be complete without him. That said, he gives a fantastic interpretation of My Uncle from The Flying Burrito Brothers’ Guilded Palace of Sin.
Steve Earle My Uncle:
“A letter came today from the draft board
With trembling hands I read the questionnaire
It asked me lots of things about my mama and papa
Now that ain’t what I call exactly fair
So I’m heading for the nearest foreign border
Vancouver may be just my kind of town
Because they don’t need the kind of law and order
That tends to keep a good man underground..”
Gram Parsons (November 5, 1946 – September 19, 1973) was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist. Parsons is best known for his work within the country genre; he also mixed blues, folk, and rock to create what he called “Cosmic American Music”.Besides recording as a solo artist, he also worked in several notable bands, including the International Submarine Band, The Byrds, and The Flying Burrito Brothers. His career, though short, is described by Allmusic as “enormously influential” for both country and rock, “blending the two genres to the point that they became indistinguishable from each other.”
Born in 1946, Parsons emerged from a wealthy but troubled childhood to attend Harvard University. He founded the International Submarine Band in 1966, and after several months of delay their debut, Safe at Home, was released in 1968, by which time the group had disbanded. Parsons joined The Byrds in early 1968, and played a pivotal role in the making of the seminal Sweetheart of the Rodeoalbum.
After leaving the group in late 1968, Parsons and fellow Byrd Chris Hillman formed The Flying Burrito Brothers in 1969, releasing their debut, The Gilded Palace of Sin, the same year. The album was well received but failed commercially; after a sloppy cross-country tour, they hastily recorded Burrito Deluxe. Parsons was fired from the band before its release in early 1970. He soon signed with A&M Records, but after several unproductive sessions he canceled his intended solo debut in early 1971. Parsons moved to France, where he lived for a short period at Villa Nellcôte with his friend Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones.
Returning to America, Parsons befriended Emmylou Harris, who assisted him on vocals for his first solo record, GP, released in 1973. Although it received enthusiastic reviews, the release failed to chart; his next album, Grievous Angel (released posthumously in 1974) met with a similar reception, and peaked at number 195 on Billboard. Parsons died of a drug overdose on September 19, 1973 in hotel room 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn at Joshua Tree, California, at the age of 26.
Since his death, Parsons has been recognized as an extremely influential artist, credited with helping to found both country rock and alt-country.His posthumous honors include the Americana Music Association “President’s Award” for 2003, and a ranking at No. 87 on Rolling Stone‘s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic describes Parsons as “enormously influential” for both country and rock, “blending the two genres to the point that they became indistinguishable from each other. … His influence could still be heard well into the next millennium.”
In his essay on Parsons for Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Artist” list, Keith Richards notes that Parsons’ recorded music output was “pretty minimal.” But nevertheless, Richards claims that Parsons “effect on country music is enormous[, t]his is why we’re talking about him now.”
The Flyin Burrito Brothers – Chritina’s Tune:
Gram & Emmylou – Streets of Baltimore (Bad quality, but GREAT stuff!!):
A Great documentary about Gram from BBC – “Fallen Angel”:
Highway 61 Revisited is the sixth studio album by singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. It was released in August 1965 by Columbia Records. On his previous album, Bringing It All Back Home, Dylan devoted Side One of the album to songs accompanied by an electric rock band, and Side Two to solo acoustic numbers. For Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan used rock backing on every track, except for the closing 11-minute acoustic song, “Desolation Row“. Critics have written that Dylan’s ability to combine driving, complex, blues-based rock music with the power of poetry made Highway 61 Revisited one of the most influential albums ever recorded.
Highway 61 Revisited peaked at number three in the United States charts and number four in the United Kingdom. The album has received multiple accolades and was ranked number four on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The single “Like a Rolling Stone” reached number two in the US charts and number four in the UK. It has been described by critics as Dylan’s magnum opus and was number one on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Two further songs, “Desolation Row“, and “Highway 61 Revisited“, were listed at number 185 and number 364 respectively.
In May 1965, Dylan returned from his tour of England feeling tired and dissatisfied with his material. “I was going to quit singing. I was very drained… I was playing a lot of songs I didn’t want to play,” Dylan told Nat Hentoff in 1966.
“It’s very tiring having other people tell you how much they dig you if you yourself don’t dig you.”
Out of this dissatisfaction, Dylan wrote an extended piece of verse which Dylan described as a “long piece of vomit”.He refined this long poem into a song consisting of four verses and a chorus—”Like a Rolling Stone”.
Dylan told Hentoff that the process of writing and recording “Like a Rolling Stone” washed away this dissatisfaction, and renewed his enthusiasm for creating music.Speaking of the breakthrough of writing that song, forty years later, Dylan told Robert Hilburn in 2004,
“It’s like a ghost is writing a song like that… You don’t know what it means except the ghost picked me to write the song.”
Highway 61 Revisited was recorded in two blocks of recording sessions, which took place in Studio A of Columbia Records in New York City, located at 799 Seventh Avenue, just north of West 52nd Street.The first session, June 15 and June 16, was produced by Tom Wilson and resulted in the single, “Like a Rolling Stone”.On July 25, Dylan performed his controversial electric set at the Newport Folk Festival, where some sections of the crowd booed his performance.Four days after Newport, Dylan returned to the recording studio. From July 29 to August 4, Dylan and his band completed recording Highway 61 Revisited, but under the supervision of a new producer, Bob Johnston.
Side one 1. “Like a Rolling Stone” 6:09 2. “Tombstone Blues” 5:58 3. “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” 4:09 4. “From a Buick 6” 3:19 5. “Ballad of a Thin Man” 5:58
Side two 6. “Queen Jane Approximately” 5:31 7. “Highway 61 Revisited” 3:30 8. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” 5:31 9. “Desolation Row”
My ratings (0-10):
Singer-songwriter Phil Ochs told Broadside magazine, immediately after the record’s release, that Dylan had “produced the most important and revolutionary album ever made”.Speaking to Anthony Scaduto five years later, Ochs said, “I put on Highway 61 and I laughed and said it’s so ridiculous. It’s impossibly good, it just can’t be that good. How can a human mind do this?“
The album cemented Dylan’s mastery of a new genre—combining verbal complexity with a hard rock sound. One 1965 reviewer wrote: “Bob Dylan used to sound like a lung cancer victim singing Woody Guthrie. Now he sounds like a Rolling Stone singing Immanuel Kant“.
The album was a hit, peaking at number 3 on the Billboard 200 chart of top albums.In August 1967, Highway 61 was certificated as a gold record.
Highway 61 Revisited has remained among the most highly acclaimed of Dylan’s works. Scaduto, Dylan’s first serious biographer, wrote that it may be “one of the most brilliant pop records ever made. As rock, it cuts through to the core of the music—a hard driving beat without frills, without self-consciousness.” Commenting on Dylan’s imagery, Scaduto wrote: “Not since Rimbaud has a poet used all the language of the street to expose the horrors of the streets, to describe a state of the union that is ugly and absurd.”
Dylan critic Michael Gray called Highway 61 “revolutionary and stunning, not just for its energy and panache but in its vision: fusing radical, electrical music … with lyrics that were light years ahead of anyone else’s; Dylan here unites the force of blues-based rock’n’roll with the power of poetry. Rock culture, in an important sense, the 1960s, started here.”
In 1995 Highway 61 Revisited was named the fifth greatest album of all time in a poll conducted by Mojo magazine.
In 2001, the TV network VH1 placed it at number 22.
In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine, describing Highway 61 as “one of those albums that, quite simply, changed everything”, placed it at number four in its list of the greatest albums of all time.
The Rolling Stone list of the 500 greatest songs of all time ranked “Highway 61 Revisited”, “Desolation Row” and “Like a Rolling Stone” at #364, #185 and #1, respectively.