In some circles, Gram Parsons is a certified legend. In others, he is virtually unknown. Gandulf Hennig’s Fallen Angel (2004) documentary will enlighten the latter to the opinion of the former. Even if you know his basic story, love his music, or know nothing about him, this DVD offers plenty of revelations about his short but prolific existence.
Parsons grew up in Georgia, the heir to a million-dollar orange juice fortune. He was briefly a member of The Byrds, did some of his best work with The Flying Burrito Brothers, and recorded two beautiful solo records. He crossed paths and spent quite a lot of time with the Rolling Stones, and Emmylou Harris started her career collaborating with him. Interviewees in the film include Keith Richards, Emmylou, Peter Buck, fellow Byrd and Burrito Brother Chris Hillman, Parson’s manager, guitarist, widow, members of his family, and several friends.
With his tragic death at age twenty-six the stuff that movies are made of (for real, see Johnny Knoxville in Grand Theft Parsons), it’s good to see one made mostly about his life. Here’s hoping that Fallen Angel will entice more people to go back and listen to Parson’s music.
Speaking of, Rhino is also releasing a special edition, three-CD set of Parson’s two solo records, GP and Grevious Angel, with a third disc of outtakes, interviews, and rare tracks (sixteen in all), plus a fifty-two-page booklet. Complete Reprise Sessions is a perfect collection piece for both newbies and completists.
I marshal the middle between Mathers and McLuhan.