I start with ‘$1000 Wedding’ (from a time when that was very expensive, the society wedding that trust-fund kid Gram ‘enjoyed’). That voice, a stiletto wrapped in velvet, every surface and edge of the steel felt through the softness, a voice keening and yet without self pity. It begins quietly, almost dreamily, a man questioning, trying to understand. And then Emmylou comes in – bang! – singing lead, get real, man! ‘I hate to tell you how he acted, when the news arrived. He took some friends out drinking, and it’s lucky they survived ….’ A great track.
And then ‘Love Hurts’, surely the finest reading of that brilliant Boudleaux and Felice Bryant song. They’re singing it to each other, but neither in recrimination, nor in that, ‘we’ll tell each other how bad it gets – and then we’ll get it on!’ It’s two soliloquies that writhe round each other without interpenetrating, so intimate but so separate, each singing to the one person in the world who understands, and is untouchable. ‘Love is like a stove, burns you when it’s hot’.
Finish with Gram in The Byrds, the tracks on Sweetheart of the Rodeo he rerecorded singing lead instead of Roger McGuinn. McGuinn’s good, but Gram believes – not in the sentiment, but in the song. Only Gram could sing ‘The Christian Life’ straight, as a fine song. He doesn’t judge, he sings. Such a loss, forty years on.
And if I’m still standing, The Flying Burrito Brothers’ ‘Wild Horses’ will always floor me!