Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Gram Parsons: The Star Of Cosmic American Music

The singer-songwriter, Gram Parsons, would have turned 68 today. In his brief life he sought the fusion of rock and country into what he called Cosmic American Music. His death came long before he was acknowledged as one of America's most influential innovators in the world of popular music. Most authorities credit him with founding the country rock genre. He leaves behind a wonderful legacy of sound through his membership in three bands, the International Submarine Band, the Byrds, and the Flying Burrito Brothers; his solo work, and a legendary association with Emmylou Harris.

Parsons in 1972

Parsons passed away in 1973 with hardly a decade of musical composition and performance behind him. Though his life was short, his influence on music was profound. Here are the Byrds performing his song, "One Hundred Years From Now," on their groundbreaking album - and Parsons's concept - Sweetheart of the Rodeo:

And here he is as lead vocal on "Hickory Wind," another of his compositions - this one with Bob Buchanan - recorded for the same album:

With his passing, one of American music's greatest innovators was stilled, but others, especially Emmylou Harris, would use his inventions and adapt them over the next forty years into the country rock music we know today.

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