As a songwriter, you have to find a way to keep track of the often fleeting ideas, melodies, progressions, and lyrics which pop into your head at the most inopportune moments. For how often we hear songwriters compare their creations to "their babies," except for a lucky few, songs hardly ever emerge whole and complete into the world. Often, it's more like giving birth to a leg or a finger at a time, then piecing it all together when you finally get a minute to yourself.
So, a notebook in which to scribble all your ideas - verbal and non - can be a vital tool to carry around. It can also be an intensely personal one, containing all your whims and momentary bursts of crazy (you'll shape them into sanity later), your doodles and drawings - such as they are - parts of verses, set lists, made-up words, non sequiturs, lovelorn pinings, and mindlessnesses while you wait for your dinner order to be filled.
With all that in mind, the possibility of peeking into the journal of one of the finest songwriters to have ever touched the craft of American roots music - a hugely respected and inspirational figure to generations of other writers. . . would be a rare opportunity, indeed.
And so it is that The Hard Rock Cafe has granted No Depression access to Gram Parson journal.
The journal was auctioned off at Christie's rock auction in London in 1995 and obtained by the Hard Rock Cafe. They contain Parsons' scrawlings from 1969 to about 1973 (roughly two months before his death). Following his death, the jurnals were inherited by Parsons' friend, violin and bass player Rick Grech, who used them for his own songwriting and ideas for a while.
Inside are the lyrics to "Wild Horses", "$1,000 Wedding," "Man in the Fog," "High Fashion Queen," and more, not to mention plenty of lyrics and ideas for songs which were never completed or recorded.
If you're heading to Nashville next week for the Americana Music Association's conference and festival, you'll be able to experience this notebook for yourself during a special event presented by the Hard Rock Cafe and No Depression, in conjunction with Gram Parsons Foundation and the Sin City Social Club.
From 5-7 p.m. on Friday, Sep. 14, conference attendees will be able to peruse Gram's notebook via iPad as its pages are projected on a giant screen. A number of artists including Jim Lauderdale, Brendan Benson, honeyhoney, Tim Easton, Susan Marshall, Kurtis Brothers, Brian Wright and American Aquarium will also be on hand to perform their favorite Gram Parsons songs. If you're registered for the conference be sure to put it on your schedule and don't miss out. For those of you unable to make it to the conference, keep it here for reactions to the event from some of the community's finest volunteer bloggers along with images of more pages from the journal.