Sunday, December 16, 2012

Escaping news of Newtown's horros with "Cosmic American Music"

My escape from the horrors of the NEWTOWN, CONN., SCHOOL SHOOTING has been BOB PROEHL'S book-length examination of "THE GILDED PALACE OF SIN," the debut album by country rock pioneers THE FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS.
When the news of the school tragedy becomes too awful for me to digest, I turn to the book for temporary diversion.
Proehl investigates the musical motivation of Burrito founder GRAM PARSONS, arguing that rather than simply welding together rock and country music, Parsons' real aim was a more complex extrapolation of earlier albums that sought to fold musical genres into each other, such as soul king Ray Charles' album, "Modern Sounds in Country and Western."
Parsons actually hated the term "country rock" and often labeled his own contribution as "Cosmic American Music."
Proehl describes the gist of that sound:
"Cosmic American Music would embrace Southern music by black and white performers and drag it into the multicolored lights of the California psychedelic scene. It would be Buck Owens singing Aretha Franklin songs, on acid and plugged in, barreling toward on a Tennessee two-beat and sprawling out in fuzzbox and wah-wah."
I've been listening to a lot of Newtown coverage during the past few days.
When it gets to be too much, I read Proehl's book and give a listen to Parsons' Cosmic American Music for solace.


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