Say what you want about the man, or even his music, but it is hard to make the case that anybody has been a bigger ambassador for country music than Gram Parsons. Gram Parsons showed millions of non-country fans that country music could be cool. He turned The Rolling Stones into country fans. He discovered one of the most important women in country music history. He stood up to the flower pop scene of California, and showed them why country was something to be embraced, not defaced.
Since Gram died young in 1973, he never got a chance to be prolific, or to settle into his proper place in country music history. But Gram Parsons was way much more than “that guy who played in the Byrds.” And for all he has done, country music owes him a debt of gratitude.
I wrote a big article on him that you can read by clicking here, where I talk more about Gram’s influences and debunk some misconceptions about him (i.e. him being “country rock”). But the reason I’m bringing him up now is because there is a movement to put him into the Country Music Hall of Fame, complete with an online petition.
My long time readers know that the one last Nashville institution that I respect and admire is the Country Music Hall of Fame. I appreciate that the Hall is very careful about who it decides to add to its ranks, and the wise approach it takes to preserving the history of country music. Emmylou Harris, who was discovered by Gram, was inducted last year. Honestly I can understand why Gram would not be the most intuitive pick for the Hall, mainly because of the misconceptions behind his name and career. But that is why it is important for us fans and the grass roots of the REAL country movement to spread the word about Gram’s importance.
I signed the petition, #2616.
And while you’re at it, if you haven’t signed the petition to Reinstate Hank Williams to the Grand Ole Opry, we’ll roll over there and get that done as well (38,102 online signatures and counting). I’m not into peer pressure, so if you ain’t into it, so be it. We all do what we can, and what we’re willing to do.
Also on Sept. 19th 2009 there will be the Second Annual Gram Parsons Petition Party in Nashville at The 5 Spot. For more info, check them out on MySpace HERE.