Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Gram Parsons: Fallen Angel (2004)

After watching Fallen Angel, I feel like I have a nice overview of Gram Parsons musical history but know very little about him as a person.  The music career is covered - his country influence on the Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo album, forming the Flying Burrito Brothers with Chris Hillman, becoming friends with Keith Richards who was influenced by Gram's country leanings, plus his own albums and tours which were a vehicle for Emmylou Harris to launch her career.

Surprisingly Gram was not your typical musician,  He came from a wealthy family and had a trust fund. So without the worry of where the next paycheck would come from, he was free to do what he wanted.

The stories from friends and family portray him as someone who was a bit self absorbed, bordering on obnoxious, and prone to addiction, but someone they adored.  He's referred to as charismatic and despite his shortcomings, each person speaks very fondly of him which is a testament to the man.

While his musical history is clearly laid out, a look at him as a person is where the film is lacking. Plus there is a lack of clarity on the relationships of the people.  They delve into the story of his parents and the family wealth, but I got confused about who some of the people were. At times I wasn't sure whether they were talking about his parents or his grandparents.

At one point, the story mentions how Gram stole David Crosby's fiance, which leads to a snippet of an interview with a woman who tells a story of "when Mom met Dad". Okay her last name is Parsons, but it didn't identify who she was. Is that his daughter? Did Gram have any kids?  Did he ever marry Crosby's fiance?  If not, why?  How long were they together?  What happened to her?  Is she still alive?  When was his daughter born?  Did she have any relationship with Gram?

Later they talk to Gram's wife. Oh so they did get married... wait, she doesn't have the same first name.  So he didn't marry Crosby's fiance?  When did he meet his wife?  Did they know each other a long time?  How long were they married?  She still gets choked up talking about his death. So what's their story? Didn't it say he was staying with a girlfriend when he died?

The film was really interesting, but I'd have liked to know more about him and have a better overview of his life, not just his music. It's a sad story which I wish had ended differently.  Oh and his friend who stole his body and burned it is a jerk.  I'd be scarred for life if someone did that to a family member.

This film makes me want to pull out my Gram Parsons records. I love the song One Hundred Years which is on Sweetheart of the Rodeo.  And I've always hated the name Flying Burrito Brothers, but the song Older Guys, which I had never heard before, is really catchy.

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