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Gram Parsons lives!

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Gram_l

Gram_l“If I go away, you know I’m gonna get back somehow…”

Country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons sang those immortal words on a track called “One Hundred Years From Now” back in 1968, when he briefly joined the Byrds’ lineup and ended up steering them towards the twang of their much-beloved album, Sweethearts of the Rodeo. That seminal record remains a treasured keepsake of Gram fans, and a major influence on countless bands that followed his brave and brazen mission to incorporate southern sounds into psychedelic rock-n-roll. But since his untimely death in 1974, there’s been a disappointing dearth of Gram material, despite renewed interest in his music and, of course, the legend of his demise (Gram overdosed on a lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol in a motel room in Joshua Tree, California; his body was subsequently stolen from LAX and driven back out to desert by his tour manager and longtime friend, Phil Kaufman, where it was burned). Sure, we got the 2001 collection Sacred Hearts and Fallen Angels: The Gram Parsons Anthology, which was a thorough rehash of some of Gram’s greatest hits, both on his own, with the Byrds, and fronting the International Submarine Band, and the Flying Burrito Brothers. And we Gram lovers were also treated to the glorious two-night tribute concert in 2004, lovingly curated by his daughter, Polly, and featuring performances by Keith Richards, Norah Jones, Steve Earle and John Doe, among others. But then again, we were also forced to endure the godawful film Grand Theft Parsons, starring a true fan (Johnny Knoxville) in a very unfortunate role.

Still, for the most part, we’ve been pretty patient, some would even say passive, in our desire to hear new music. But not Dave Prinz, co-founder of Amoeba Records and a die-hard Gram fan. In between running his three superb California record stores, he went out in search of undiscovered Gram recordings — and happened upon two hours of live music buried deep within 16,000 hours of the Grateful Dead archive. The tapes were from two Avalon shows in 1969 — when the Flying Burrito Brothers opened up for the Dead — and they were perfect.

addCredit(“Glenn A. Baker/Redferns/Retna Ltd.”)

But getting the rights to release them proved no small feat. The owner ofthe tapes, Dead archivist Owsley “Bear” Stanley, was notoriouslyprotective of his recordings and, after a grueling six months of little-to-no contact, he simply ignored the deliberately simple, one-pagecontract that Dave Prinz needed.

To make a long story short, Prinz did, with the help of DavidGrisman (and Gram’s spirit from above, says Prinz), get that contractsigned. And on Wednesday, he, Polly Parsons and Burrito Bros. bassistChris Etheridge gathered a group of reporters and supporters for aroundtable discussion and listening session. He explained that ten ofthe tracks were of previously unavailable songs, and  described howGram’s voice, still fresh and remarkably spot-on, can be heard better-than-ever thanks to Bear’s meticulous taping know-how. This is a bigdeal for Gram fans, my friends, which is why I thought I’d share thestory and full track-listing with you. The two-CD set is scheduled forrelease on August 28.

Gram Parsons Archives: The Flying Burrito Brothers Live at the Avalon, 1969

Disc 1
1. Close up the Honky Tonks
2. Dark End of the Street
3. Undo the Right
4. She Once Lived Here
5. We’ve Got to Get Ourselves Together
6. Lucille
7. Hot Burrito #1
8. Hot Burrito #2
9. Long Black Limousine
10. Mental Revenge
11. Sin City
12. Thousand Dollar Wedding
13. When Will I Be Loved

Disc 2
1. Undo the Right
2. She Once Lived Here
3. Sweet Mental Revenge
4. We’ve Got to Get Ourselves Together
5. Lucille
6. Sin City
7. You Win Again
8. Hot Burrito #1
9. Hot Burrito #2
10. You’re Still On My Mind
11. Train Song
12. Long Black Limousine
13. Sweet Dream Baby
14. Do Right Woman