My mom’s music was what I grew up listening to. Records of the more popular folk and country “with a dose of rock” artists like Loggins and Messina, Dan Fogelberg, Jim Croce, and John Denver were played in family get-togethers. And by high school, the term “country rock” for me was synonymous to the Eagles.
It wasn’t until 2007 that I came across The Flying Burrito Brothers and by sheer luck nonetheless. But let’s talk about an English band called Starsailor first. I have their first two albums, which were distributed in the Philippines in early 2000s, although no one else seemed to know them. Imagine my surprise when I got hold of their Love is Here Live DVD, a rarity (in my case) which features a full-length live concert. Two of the tracks were covers: one is an acoustic solo performance of a combo, Born To Be With You/Rocket Man; the other one is that of Hot Burrito #2, a Burrito Brothers original. Finally!
So to make the long story short, I read about The Flying Burrito Brothers, but most especially their most celebrated member, Gram Parsons and his short but interesting life. This artist blended the country and rock genres seamlessly that some now call him the father of “country rock”, a term I thought I knew and which Parsons didn’t like. By the time I finished, I asked my mom if she’s ever heard of him. She said no. Sad but that’s music business.
After satisfying myself with this share of music, I went back to the time when Gram Parsons sang folk. In 2000, early unreleased home recordings of Gram Parsons were compiled in the album Another Side of This Life: The Lost Recordings of Gram Parsons. These songs were recorded in the mid-60s while attending Harvard University and exploring Greenwich Village where there was a thriving folk music scene. The track list consists of mostly covers and five originals, one of which is an early version of Brass Buttons.
Compared to a complete album production, this collection offers us raw performances with just a guitar accompanying the songs. And it was quite unexpected when a powerful voice with a proper vibrato sings instead of one achingly fragile vocal, what I got accustomed to in his later works. His vocal control in The Last Thing on My Mind was just exceptional:
Some other things to be noted are the different phrasing and rhythms in his covers. Gram Parsons had a good sense of rhythm in a way that mellow or laid-back songs were transformed into upbeat and vice versa. In some songs, listening to the originals wouldn’t help you recognize it. This may be attributed to his guitar-playing, very individual although at times “self-derivative”. The quality of this album is excellent for something recorded at home in the 60s but still not different from then-contemporary folk revival acts. That said, he would have been a good folk music artist, great would be questionable. For fans, it was the best decision to move on to other things, but this album is more than a bonus for avid Gram Parsons listeners.
Another Side of This Life
- “Codine” – 5:37
- “Wheel of Fortune” (Parsons) – 2:29
- “Another Side of This Life” – 2:40
- “High Flyin’ Bird” – 3:49
- “November Nights” (Parsons) – 3:38
- “Zah’s Blues” (Parsons) – 4:02
- “Reputation” – 3:09
- “That’s the Bag I’m In” – 3:14
- “Willie Jean” (Traditional) – 4:08
- “They Still Go Down” – 2:26
- “Pride of Man” – 2:45
- “The Last Thing on My Mind” – 3:44
- “Hey Nellie Nellie” – 3:04
- “She’s the Woman I Love/Good Time Music” – 4:58
- “Brass Buttons” (Parsons) – 2:25
- “I Just Can’t Take It Anymore” (Parsons) – 3:29
- “Searchin'” – 3:32
- “Candy Man” – 3:17
NOTE: It is recommended to listen to Gram Parsons’ previous albums first before Another Side of This Life. Get to know this legend and his nudie suits, this Cosmic American and his relationship with the Rolling Stones.