Cosmic American Anniversary: Gram Parsons Memorial

Inn an out: You can check out any time you likeInn an out: You can check out any time you like, Gram, but we won't let you leave.

; Credit: Mel Yiasemide

Last Friday marked the 35th anniversary of Gram Parsons' death from a drug overdose at the Joshua Tree Inn, where a group of local performers and die-hard fans gathered to celebrate his life, as lighting flashed and meteors flew overhead. Singer Victoria Williams was there, a sparrow with an indomitable spirit. “His lyrics were so incredible,” she told me. “When you listen, it seems like he knew he was going to die. Don't you think?”

I also met Roger, a Joshua Tree native who played with Gram. He recalled the star rolling up outside his house in a borrowed white Bentley one time, then emerging with a bottle of Johnnie Walker red in his hand.

“He used to play George Jones,” Roger told a group of people congregated outside Room 8 � now the Gram Parsons Suite � where Gram's body was found. “I said to him, you can't keep playing George Jones, you gotta play something else. 'There are two kinds of music,' Gram said to me. 'And you know what they are? Good music, and bad music.'”

Then we drank tequila and talked about Gram some more.

Before leaving, I took a trip to Cap Rock, in Joshua Tree, where Gram's friend Phil Kaufman burned the his body, honoring a request he'd made on one of many wild nights they spent in this beautiful desert, all those years ago.

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