Gram Parsons went hard, as in making-even-the-Rolling-Stones-worried hard, and his death at 26 from a flood of morphine and booze wasn’t any more surprising than what happened to Dylan Thomas and John Bonham. It isn’t Romantically complex and fitting when gifted human beings die young: it’s just dingy and awful, because when it happens, we all lose a layer off the thin armor that helps us get through this hurr vale of tears.
Modernity’s archival capacities do provide some comfort. Here is “Sin City” (1969), which Parsons recorded with his band The Flying Burrito Brothers. The guy spent his brief career twisting up the conventions of American honky-tonk, but his best work honors that genre’s blend of good times, Protestant guilt, and chilling melancholy.