The Tattoo and Sweet Crackers

July 14, 2008

Apparently the gossip along the Taylor Hicks fan boards this weekend was an ardent’s fan Taylor Hicks tattoo someplace noticeable on her body. This fan also was recently at his “Grease” gig and was seen by Mr. Hicks; he commented on it in this article “Taylor Hicks Channels Elvis…” written by MTV’s Jim Cantiello.

Mr. Hicks is quoted in Cantiello’s article describing his “Grease” gig as,

“It’s a really cool part,” he said. “The Teen Angel comes down and tells Frenchy she should put down her teasing comb and go back to high school. I’ve kind of channeled Elvis, a little Graham Parsons and Liberace, all at the same time, for this role. It was just a perfect fit and a way for me to experience the Broadway stage in a small dose, instead of a full role. I come out in the second act. I pop in from an ice-cream cone, in a blue rhinestone suit, and rock it out for a few minutes.”

I get the Liberace comparison with the rhinestones and that pompador hairdo that Taylor Hicks wears for the role, and of course he’d toss in Elvis because, well, it is Elvis. But apparently the MTV guy or someone wasn’t familiar with “Graham” Parsons. For one, they misspelled his name, which should read, ‘Gram’ Parsons, not like the sweet cracker spelling.

Now, I’m not seeing anything about Gram Parsons in Mr. Hicks’ portrayal of Teen Angel but the light bulb flashed in my mind on the ‘why’ of Parsons being mentioned. I’ve read statements from Mr. Hicks in which he listed the Flying Burrito Brothers as a favorite and so that targets his being a fan of the late, underrated and talented Gram Parsons, but again, associating Parsons with the character in “Grease” a big stretch.

Taylor Hicks’ fans, I’ll share my little beam of light toward my thoughts on Gram Parsons, since it’s not likely many of Hicks’ mainstream fans are cognizant of who he was. Gram, over time, has become something of a cult figure in the music business. During Parsons’ actual short lifetime he just missed that mark of hitting it big, and today, like I said, it’s doubtful anyone but a music historian or music buff of this genre would know his name off the top of their head, now. That could be a likely excuse for a reporter or MTV editor to misspell the man’s name. Hell MTV is more concerned over their mind zapping insipid, IQ deficit reality show fare over anything much to do with real music anymore anyway.

As it stands, Gram Parsons is now referred to as one of the pioneers behind the country-rock phenomenon that hit during the late 60s and early 70s. Parsons was a member of the Byrds at one time, and was that creative force driving “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” a country themed compilation released in 1968, considered by music aficionados as a classic of its time.

Most fans of music other than Pop, should recognize the name, “Flying Burrito Brothers”, a band that was founded by Mr. Parsons. He was also instrumental in helping Emmylou Harris get her start in the industry when he invited her to sing on his solo album, GP, in 1973. He was a friend to the Rolling Stones and cast influence in their “Exile on Main Street” album. He was pals with Elvis Costello and Linda Ronstadt. You can also hear his influence in works by the Eagles, Tom Petty and New Riders of the Purple Sage (loved that band) and Pure Prairie League (“Amie”) Sadly Gram Parsons died way too early from an accidental overdose, a lethal combination of alcohol and morphine.

Taylor Hicks has referred to his new CD to have somewhat of a country flavor. This is where and The Why Mr. Hicks is bringing up Gram Parsons’ name. The new CD is reported to have a bit of a country music flair to it – steel guitars, that vibe. Man, it’s smacked me upside the head this morning, I got it. Mr. Hicks once communicated about what he meant by the name, “Modern Whomp”, his intention and ideals. Yes, man, what a great way to be reviewed later in the music annals as doing what Parsons did for the rock music scene back in his day – to be able to cast a new music vibe in today’s era. Everyone has to have a dream, man. Taylor Hicks you are dreaming large, baby. A Change-a-Gonna Come, indeed.

Here’s a little look back on Gram Parsons, circa 1973 in Houston, Texas at the Liberty Hall venue.

“Devil in Disguise” Flying Burrito Brothers

“In the late sixties they pioneered the country rock sound. They were never really a commercial success, but they were one of the most influential bands of the rock era, blending hillbilly soul and raucous rock. They paved the way for artists like the Eagles, Garth Brooks, Dwight Yoakam and others. Founding members Chris Hillman and Gram Hillman called it cosmic American music. The melding of acoustic instrumentation interrupted by searing electric guitar riffs was certainly a sound new to the music scene. Although the Gram and Hillman managed to stay together for only 3 years and 3 albums, their music would far outlast their shortened career.”
quote from youtube source