Ingram Cecil Connor III professionally known as Gram Parsons was a songwriter, guitarist, singer, and pianist. He was born on November 5, 1946, and died at the age of 26 years on September 19, 1973. He worked with different music bands, which included The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The International Submarine Band, The Shilos, and Delaney and Bonnie. He also wrote and recorded several solo songs between 1960 and 1970s. In the decades following Parsons’ death, his legacy as a country and rock musician and songwriter continued to grow. Although his music career only lasted for five years, he still had a tremendous impact on rock, country, and soul music. Some of the songs that he worked on during the 1960s and 1970s are still popular today.
10. How Much I’ve Lied
“How Much I’ve Lied” was released in 1973 as part of Parsons’ “GP” album. The song was written by Gram Parsons and David Rivkin. The song revolves around the theme of experience with love, heartbreaks, and lies. It is has a country and pop feel to it and is still one of the popular songs from Parsons’ “GP” album.
9. Wild Horses
“Wild Horses” is the last track in the Burrito Deluxe album by the Flying Burrito Brothers band. It was released one year before the Stones released their version of the song in their Sticky Fingers album. In his last interview, which was conducted by Michael Bate, Parsons stated that he only added the steel guitar in the master song and then they ended up including the song in their next album (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBBnsedC9Jg). In the interview, Parson also praised the song for its beauty.
8. Kiss the Children
This song was written by Ric Grech and Gram Parsons and was released in 1973 as part of the “GP” album. In the song, Parsons sings about a man whose misery, depression, and drinking habits have ruined his relationship with his partner and children. The man fears that the woman can now see him for who he is and is afraid of losing her love. The man’s last request to the woman in the song is that she should kiss the children for him. The song has a sombre mood despite being a classic country song.
“She” was one of the songs from Parsons’ solo album “GP,” which was released in 1973. The song can be described as Parsons’ best vocal performance based on his vocal control and vocal range. The song is characterized by components of religion, and describes a woman working in a field. It is based on doomed love. “She” became one of the centerpieces of the “GP” album.
6. Love Hurts
“Love Hurts” was released in 1974 as part of the “Grievous Angel” album. It was originally recorded by the Everly Brothers and was written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. Parsons’ version was recorded under the “Grievous Angel” album. The song describes the misery of love and the unhappiness that can be associated with love after one’s heart has been broken. The song was included in Parson’s album after his death. In an article published in the New York Times about Parsons, the author acknowledges the emotional depth with which Parsons delivered “Love Hurts”.
5. Hot Burrito #1
This was one of the hit songs in “The Gilded Palace of Sin” album that was released in 1969 by the Flying Burrito. Parsons exhibits a wide range of vocal in “Hot Burrito #1” that makes his voice stand out from the rest of his bandmates. The song is emotional and Parsons expresses his vulnerability through the lyrics and his amazing vocals. Parsons wrote the song after breaking up with his girlfriend Nancy and seemed to channel all his raw emotions in the song. His vulnerability in the song makes it relatable to his fans.
4. Dark end of the street
Dark end of the street was written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman and was originally recorded in 1966 by James Carr. While Gram Parsons was still part of the Burrito Brothers Band, they incorporated country music elements in the song, which had been originally produced as soul music. The song was then recorded under “The Gilded Palace of Sin” album by Parsons and the Burrito Brothers. Their version of the song became quite the sensation as it illustrated the song’s adaptability to other genres and the band’s creativity.
3. Hickory Wind
Hickory Wind, which is part of The Byrds’ “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” album, was written by Gram Parsons and Bob Buchanan. The song was released on August 30, 1968, and reappeared On Gram Parsons’ Reprise album which was released in 1974. Although the song was recorded as part of the “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” album is mainly addresses Parsons’ feelings towards his childhood and his longing for the simplicity of life when he was younger before he became famous.
2. Brass Buttons
Brass Buttons is a slow and melodic country song, which is part of the Grievous Angel album. It was written in the mid-60s and recorded in 1973 and has a more jazz feel when compared to most of the songs who wrote thereafter. The song is about Parsons’ mother who was in the hospital while he wrote the song. His mother died from liver cirrhosis in 1965. The song is a kind of eulogy to his mother, with the saddest line in the song being his description of how the sun comes up without her because it does not know she is gone.
1. Return of the Grievous Angel
Return of the Grievous Angel is one of the songs from the “Grievous Angel” album that captured the heart of Parsons’ fans. The song was written by Gram Parsons and Tom Brown as a song that fused country and rock music and released as part of the “Grievous Angel” album in 1972. The song addresses the fusion of the old and new country music through its cinematic appeal and retention of the iconic feel of classic country music. In an article published in the A.V. Club, the author described this song as a bittersweet long song that is dense with surrealistic imagery and playful sincerity. His description captures the true essence of this song.
Gram Parsons remains to be recognized as a key contributor to the fusion of country, rock, and soul music. Although in his last interview with Michael Bate he stated that he did not like the name country-rock and preferred to enjoy the two genre of music separately, his work in the music industry promoted the fusion of these genre into modern country and rock music. Parsons song continue to entertain his fans and inspire upcoming musicians interested in country or rock music.