Sunday, April 03, 2005

Gram Parsons V's Evan Dando

Both Gram Parsons and Evan Dando play music that has one foot dancing in the genre of rock and the other square dancing in the genre of country. Both artists were also affected by drugs and alcohol, with Parsons losing his life in 1973 by overdosing on morphine and tequila and Dando almost losing his muse and his career on several occasions due to his on-again, off-again habits.

Gram Parsons is considered to be the father of country-rock, the blend of the two genres, particularly during his six month tenure with The Byrds when their sound changed completely with “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo”, a breakthrough in pop music and now more than 25 years later considered a classic album. While he was alive, Parsons was a cult figure that never sold many records but he influenced countless fellow musicians, from the Rolling Stones to the Byrds and more recently alt-country. In the years since his death, his stature has grown, as numerous rock and country artists build on his small, but enormously influential, body of work. There have even been Gram Parsons tribute concerts on both sides of the Atlantic.

Evan Dando is the sole original member of The Lemonheads, who played music influenced by grunge, metal, jangle-pop and country and Dando has since gone on to release his own solo recordings, moving further into country-rock territory. "Its a Shame About Ray", the Lemonheads breakthrough album, and particularly their cheesy cover of "Mrs Robinson", which was released much to the annoyance of the band and got them so much chart exposure that it was tagged on to the end of "Ray", pushed the band into the public eye. Dando was quickly usurped by his record label “Atlantic” and promoted as a sex symbol for the grunge generation, with People magazine voting him "Sexiest Man Alive". This did very little for his musical output and the quality of the Lemonheads albums slowly degenerated. During this period The Lemonheads and Dando's live performances could be either magical or abyssmal. But Dando has returned to form with his recent solo releases.

Not deliberately meaning to tread on the feet of such great sites as Copy, Right? and chromewaves, during April I will be posting 2 songs each post – the original version of a song and a cover version.

For the first post, to celebrate the 1000th visitor to this blogg since establishing the hit counter just over a month ago, I have chosen $1000 Wedding. Dando also covered Parson’s track “Brass Buttons” on The Lemonhead’s album “Lovey”. For more music by Evan Dando and The Lemonheads, check out Robert Crosbie's excellent site.

Gram Parsons - $1000 wedding

Evan Dando - $1000 wedding

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