I knew Gram Parsons hung out with The Rolling Stones for an extended period during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.
I also knew that Gram taught Keith Richards the difference between the “Bakersfield” style of country music and the “Nashville” style.
But that ain’t all Gram did for Keith, his pardner Mick and their motley-yet-seductively-cool gang, especially when, in early 1971, all those cats convened down yonder in the south of France, in a villa called Nellcote overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean beyond.
I came to this realization this week whilst listening to Nate interview author David N. Meyer about his book, “Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music,” in the newest episode of Let It Roll, an episode that kicked off the podcast’s 10th season this week.
Next time I listen to Exile on Main Street, I’ll think about that longhaired boy from Waycross who survived the ravages of his parents’ alcoholism only to succumb to a drug overdose himself, but only after imparting his monumental synthesis of various American musical forms to all who would listen.
Mick and Keith were listening, you better believe, and you can hear what they did with wot they heard on the one and only double album they ever produced in the studio, “Exile on Main Street.”
And then the Rollin’ Stones never produced anything that sounded like that record, ever again.
Ed Legge (@freebirdyeller) is a life-long musician, long-time journalist and sometime corporate dweeb who’s writing a book about originating rock ‘n’ roll’s most absurd tradition.