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Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music Paperback – September 16, 2008
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
I would like to point out a few problems I have with this book, though. One of Meyer's strengths is the exclusion of his personal viewpoints. Unless they're dumbly obvious- that "Burrito Deluxe" does not even compare to "The Gilded Palace of Sin," for example. Meyer crosses into subjectivity once, however, and I found it rather ridiculous- he insists that "GP" is a better album than "Grievous Angel."
I admit that, personally, I think that "Grievous Angel" is one of the best albums ever whereas "GP" is a good album (just ask Tom Petty). But that's not the issue- Meyer never backs up his claim. He states that the high points of the album are as best as Gram ever did, and then continues to name all but one or two of the tracks as exemplary. So why is "GP" better? Perhaps Meyer wants it to be better, because it (arguably) combines more genres of music (the R&B-based "Cry One More Time", for example), giving more claim to the term "Cosmic American Music". Perhaps not. But in either case, he doesn't substantiate his one truly subjective input.
Also, with regards to Emmylou Harris's and Gram's relationship, Meyer doesn't point to Harris's recent comment that she really WAS in love with Gram and was waiting to tell him! Seeing as how Meyer devotes a few paragraphs to addressing their (platonic?Read more ›
For folks like me who lived through the era it reveals how a lot of the connections I saw occurring in music--why the Rolling Stones went roots-country-blues on Exile on Main Street (after sucking at psychedelia), where Poco, Manassas, Pure Prairie League and especially Emmylou Harris suddenly sprung from in the early '70's etc., etc
A great read of a sad, short but fruitful life--and an encyclopedic rendering of the beginnings of alt-country, outlaw country music...
But it's all here, laid out well: family wealth and decadent, alcoholic lifestyles, his father's--Coon Dog's--suicide, his mother Avis's death by alchohol, his stepfather's (Bob Parson's) later death by the same, his love of music (the ongoing explanation of this is one of the book's greatest strengths), early bands, flunking out of Harvard, various love interests (or the major ones), life in NYC, then LA, playing with the Intl Sub Band, the Byrds, the Burritos, and his solo career (w/ Emmylou), his friendship with Keith Richards (and the jealously of Mick), drug use (and more drug use), commercial failures and artistic successes, the fateful day at Joshua Tree and the tragic foolishness regarding his corpse. Meyer leaves few stones unturned. He has done his homework on Parsons, he has obviously spent a lot of time interviewing familiy members and friends, and he has great respect for and understanding of Parsons's music, as well as that of his contemporaries and his many influences (Elvis, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, George Jones, the Louvin Brothers, etc.).
Maybe it's me, but Meyer's occasional use of the colloquialism is a bit annoying, and the book is plagued (though not fatally) with some wordiness and repetition.Read more ›
In a strange, if entirely appropriate coincidence, Keith Richards occurs as a kind of chimerical figure in both books. Keith bonds with Gram, appreciates his extraordinary talent, and shares his penchant for excess. Only too haltingly does he assist Gram in getting his music heard- a long held promise to produce a Gram solo record goes mournfully unfulfilled- eventually Gram succumbs to the high wire lifestyle that both men are driven to but only Keith survives. A decade and a half later, he's a Replacements fan and has them open for the X-Pensive Winos at Madison Square Garden. But immediately it becomes clear that the stage is too big for the Mats and they too wilt in Richards Shadow.
All of this occurs to me as a single illustrative instance of what is so peculiar about the dichotomy between the relatively few great artists seemingly programed to survive and even thrive in the hothouse of public notoriety and the larger number who seem unable to weather it's various excesses and deprivations over the long term.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very well written. It was not only a biography of Gram Parsons but a "biography" of how country-rock, rockabilly obtained its roots. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mary Therese Jackson Lutz
I have read and enjoyed Ben Fong-Torres' book on Gram Parsons and was very interested to read this book. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Scott Blake
Arrived quickly and it's in better condition than listed! Great product and easy deal!Published 11 months ago by Faye Memolo
Leads the reader from the early days in Waycross GA to Florida, up to Boston and beyond. Gives amazing background on one of the most mysterious figures in American music history. Read morePublished 12 months ago by David Sellar