Luxury Liner: Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band

I usually write about books, but there’s a vinyl album/ audiotape that has given me lots more enjoyment than any novel by Flaubert, and that would be “Luxury Liner” by Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band.
This weekend I found a mint condition copy of this LP and it had been stored in a big stack, so the cover art had not faded and it looked just like it did in the record stores when it was new.

I drove around for years in a twelve-speed Dodge Colt that got 40 miles to the gallon back in… never mind. But that was the only tape I ever needed. If you listen to it, you’ll understand why, right off the bat.

What I didn’t know then was how sad all those musicians were, and how sad Emmy was, about the death of Gram Parsons, the guy who wrote those lyrics, “Luxury liner, forty tons of steel, no one in this whole wide world knows the way I feel…”

Gram Parsons was a person that everyone loved, but he was also a billiant musician who got the folkies (like Emmylou) used to percussion and got the country western world used to rock forms. He also wrote “Do You Know How It Feels to Be Lonesome,” “Sin City,” “Hickory Wind,” “Wheels,” and many, many other great songs.

He was a visionary songwriter, and I and the whole world wish he’d lived to write many, many more great songs, but he made bad choices, like Hank Williams, and as one of his close friends once said, “If Gram Parsons were alive today, he’d still be dead.”

Two albums he made, “Gilded Palace of Sin” and “Grievous Angel” are the best records I ever heard. Better than the Beatles, and I’ll bet they’d agree.

All those musicians, and Emmylou, were so sad about losing Gram Parsons that all they could do was put everything they had into that album. I can feel it every time I listen to it. In every single song.

There are some great documentaries about Gram and Emmy that I saw on YouTube that brought tears to my eyes. She was so young and so sad, and so pretty (still is) and everyone was in love with her, but Gram was gone and everyone knew no one could ever take his place.

There was a concert some years ago to honor Gram Parsons, and the Rolling Stones came, because they were buddies of his, along with lots and lots of other bands, and Keith Richards said to Gram’s daughter, “We wouldn’t be doing this for just anyone, girly.”

Some rock artists have recorded songs with her that she sang with Gram, and the results have been pretty unfortunate, in my opinion. Of course, if she were to come here to Sunderland, Massachusetts, and we were to sing “Hearts on Fire,” well, that would be completely different.