As you likely already know, today (November 6th) was the release date of the anticipated Gram Parsons with the Flying Burrito Brothers' Live at the Avalon Ballroom 1969 2CD set -- the first volume in the long lost sessions from the late great artist who created "Cosmic American Music," and the second release from the recently launched Amoeba Records. (The premiere release a couple of months back was Brandi Shearer's Close To Dark.) Coincidentally, there is also a new biography just out on the artist titled Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music written by David N. Meyer and published in hard copy by Villard Books.
Gram Parsons, who died of a drug overdose at the young age of 26 and who would have celebrated his 61st birthday yesterday, November 5th, is one of those great artists whose contributions to American music are realized increasingly more and more in every year since his 1973 tragic death. And as each year progresses the legions of fans and artists directly touched by this long deceased singer/songwriter/guitarist/pianist just seem to continue to grow.
"Parsons was born in 1946 into a rich but dysfunctional Southern family; his father committed suicide when Gram was 12, and his mother died of alcoholism the day Gram graduated from high school. Although he grew up in Georgia and Florida, Parsons wasn't turned on to country until he went north to Harvard (where, obsessed with music, he flunked out freshman year), but once he discovered Buck and Merle, he was smitten," wrote the New York Times in its lukewarm review of the new 559-page biography on Parsons. The book, and other reviewers agree, is by no means a perfect biography -- skipping some important details and over-emphasizing others -- but it is a good book to have, especially for diehard fans and Parsons completists. It is also by no means the the only book out there on the fascinating character that was Gram Parsons. Others include Grievous Angel: An Intimate Biography of Gram Parsons by Jessica Hundley with Polly Parsons (Gram's daughter) that was published by Thunder's Mouth Press a couple of years ago and is available in both hard-cover and on paperback. There is also the recommended Hickory Wind: The Life and Times of Gram Parsons by Ben Fong Torres that is well worth reading to further understand the artist. Other books in the long list under Gram Parsons' bibliography include Pamela Des Barres' I'm With the Band: Confessions of A Groupie which was published by Jove Books in 1988. DeBarres, who counts Gram Parsons among her closest past friends, also wrote the liner notes for the new Amoeba Records release.