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Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram…

Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American… (2007)

by David Meyer

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"As a capper, Dylan obsoleted the whole idea of folk authenticity by turning into a rocker..."

Surely a labour of love but more repetitive than a drunk at a shotgun wedding. ( )
  dmarsh451 | Apr 1, 2013 |
Remember 1968? (Yeah...I know...if you can remember it you weren't really there...baloney.) Among other things, that's the year The Byrds released their album "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" and pissed off everybody--the "real" country artists who thought those long-haired freaky people were trying to subvert country music, and the band's fan base who thought they'd lost their minds with this redneck shit. Well, there were a few music critics back then who got what was really happening, and now it's pretty well accepted that this album was the mother of country-rock. The father, often unidentified, was a 22-year-old phenomenon named Gram Parsons, who hardly anybody had heard of then, and a lot of people even now know only vaguely as that guy whose body got burned up in some weird ceremony in the desert. And wasn't he shacking up with Emmylou Harris back in the day? (Kinda wrong, on both counts.) Well, he's a legend in certain circles, and like most legends his truth has become a bit obscured. David Meyer seems to have done a lot of homework trying very hard to track down the truth about Parsons' short, chemically enhanced and shattered life, and it makes fascinating reading. It's about a rich southern boy with big ideas, too much loose change and not enough guidance or maturity to handle either well, who nevertheless left his mark on American popular music in uncounted ways. And it's about so much more---a valuable reference of influences, crossed paths, coincidences and lost chances. If you can't imagine a connection between Keith Richards and Buck Owens, let Meyer show you not only that it exists, but how essential it is in music history. His list of recommended listening and his encyclopedia of performers, songwriters, producers and followers make the book worth owning if you have any interest in country music, rock & roll, or their holy matrimony. Fascinating, sad and thought-provoking. I left more book darts in the pages of Twenty Thousand Roads than I've used in a long time. ( )
12 vote laytonwoman3rd | Mar 1, 2013 |
I grew up listening to country-rock music, and Gram Parsons was one of my musical heroes. And while I knew he'd died young and that he'd been a heavy drug user, I was never really aware just how influential he really was, how sad a life he had and how energetic he was in pushing away success and wasting his considerable talent and charm.

Parsons hit the big time when, after gaining a bit of notice with his International Submarine Band in L.A., he joined the Byrds and helped steer that band from psychedelia towards country, recording the now iconic Sweetheart of the Rodeo album. Then it was on to co-leading the the even more influential Flying Burrito Brothers and the sound that spawned a million imitators. Meyer also chronicles the friendship between Parsons and Keith Richards that helped push the Stones towards country and the sound that would produce Exile on Main Street but also helped bury Parsons even deeper into the vortex of hard drug use.

The "tragic, sensitive artist as his own worst enemy" story has been told a million times, of course, but Meyer, with a writing style that flows nicely and seemingly deep and impeccable research, really does succeed in making Parson's story a compelling one. We don't see Parsons as a hero or as a tragic victim. We see him as a man who brought about his own demise, and yet earned his iconic status in American music history. We also get an interesting, close-up look at the rock world of the late 60s and early 70s. ( )
4 vote rocketjk | Dec 15, 2011 |
As a fan of the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers, I looked forward to reading this book. I did'nt want a hagiography; however, this book paints a picture of a complete loser. He had talent and money to burn and threw it all away. What makes the whole story worse is the congery of enablers that surrounded him and helped cause his death. The book is well written, but a complete downer. ( )
  nemoman | Mar 2, 2008 |
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This book is dedicated to

Sarahjane Blum, Tessa DeCarlo, and Jesi Khadivi,

my sweethearts of the rodeo

Bruce Tracy,
an exceptionally patient and discerning guy

Lester Bangs
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Gram Parsons sprang from rich white trash and rural gentility.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345503368, Paperback)

As a singer and songwriter, Gram Parsons stood at the nexus of countless musical crossroads, and he sold his soul to the devil at every one. His intimates and collaborators included Keith Richards, William Burroughs, Marianne Faithfull, Peter Fonda, Roger McGuinn, and Clarence White. Parsons led the Byrds to create the seminal country rock masterpiece Sweetheart of the Rodeo, helped to guide the Rolling Stones beyond the blues in their appreciation of American roots music, and found his musical soul mate in Emmylou Harris. Parsons’ solo albums, GP and Grievous Angel, are now recognized as visionary masterpieces of the transcendental jambalaya of rock, soul, country, gospel, and blues Parsons named “Cosmic American Music.” Parsons had everything–looks, charisma, money, style, the best drugs, the most heartbreaking voice–and threw it all away with both hands, dying of a drug and alcohol overdose at age twenty-six.

In this beautifully written, raucous, meticulously researched biography, David N. Meyer gives Parsons’ mythic life its due. From interviews with hundreds of the famous and obscure who knew and worked closely with Parsons–many who have never spoken publicly about him before–Meyer conjures a dazzling panorama of the artist and his era.

Praise for Twenty Thousand Roads



“Far and away the most thorough biography of Parsons . . . skewers any number of myths surrounding this endlessly mythologized performer.”
–Los Angeles Times

“A terrific biography of a rock innovator that hums with juicy detail and wincing truth. . . . Page after page groans with the folly of the ’60s drug culture, the tragedy of talent toasted before its time, the curse of wealth and the madness of wasted opportunity.”
–The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“The definitive account of Gram Parsons’ life–and early death. From the country-rock pioneer’s wealthy, wildly dysfunctional family through his symbiotic friendship with Keith Richards, Meyer deftly illuminates one of rock’s most elusive figures.”
–Rolling Stone

“Meticulously researched . . . Though Meyer answers a lot of long-burning questions, he preserves Parsons’ legend as a man of mystery.”
–Entertainment Weekly

“Meyer gives Parsons a thorough, Peter Guralnick-like treatment.”
New York Post

Visit the official website: www.twentythousandroads.com

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"In this beautifully written, raucous, meticulously researched biography, David N. Meyer gives Gram Parsons' mythic life its due. From Parsons' privileged Southern Gothic upbringing to his early career in Greenwich Village's folk music scene to his Sunset Strip glory days, Twenty Thousand Roads paints an unprecedented portrait of the man who linked country to rock. Parsons' creative genius gave birth to a new sound that was rooted in the past but heralded the future." "From interviews with hundreds of the famous and the obscure who knew and worked closely with Parsons - many who have never spoken publicly about him before - Meyer conjures a dazzling panorama of the artist and his era. Shedding new light and dispelling old myths, Twenty Thousand Roads is a breakthrough in rock-and-roll biography and more - a chronicle of creativity, drugs, excess, culture, and music in the ferment of late-1960s America."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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