It is striking to these ears just how vulnerable Gram Parson's voice sounds on GP. And for several good reasons. After a motorcycle accident in 1970, Parsons spent two years living like a rock star. He briefly became Keith Richards' best drug buddy, even holing up at the guitarist's French villa during the recordings of Exile On Main Street. Richards finally had to kick Gram out of the villa and all attempts by Gram to see his friend during the Rolling Stones US tour were thwarted.
Still, he had fans including Reprise Records exec Mo Ostin who signed Parsons. Backed by members of Elvis Presley's band and the harmonies of recent discovery Emmylou Harris, Gram recorded GP , released in January of 1973. It's an album that references classic C and W sounds . The difference, really, is the lyrics and that voice full of lost hope, exhaustion and the shadow of doom. Side One has three straight great songs. Parson's "A Song For You", Tompall Glaser's "Streets of Baltimore" and "She", written by Parsons and his International Submarine Band mate Chris Ethridge who died last April.
Below is a rare video of Parsons and Harris singing "Streets of Baltimore" on stage. Parsons would not live to see out 1973 but we'll save that sad story for another day.