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Monday, December 24, 2007

GRAM PARSONS
Fallen Angel DVD
(Warner Music Vision)

One of the best rock DVDs of 2006 was this loving documentary of the life of Gram Parsons. Directed by Gandulf Henning, it’s the first ever film about Parsons and I cannot imagine how it will ever be surpassed.
Despite the lack of video interviews with Parsons himself and the paucity of any video records of Parsons, period, Henning has done a tremendous job of fleshing out the man that was Parsons mainly through the words, facial expressions and body language (and tears) of family members, friends and ex-band colleagues.
Musically, of course, Parsons was a pioneer and a trail-blazer in the country-rock arena and Fallen Angel gives this angle its due but it’s Parsons, the person that touched individual lives (positively or negatively) that gets the most focus here.
In particular, regarding Parsons’ untimely death and the strange circumstances that followed i.e. the abduction of his body and subsequent “cremation” in the desert by Phil Kaufman. Juxtaposing Kaufman’s account of the deed and the reactions of Parsons’ family members, Henning provides a hitherto unexplored perspective to the episode and it is hard not to feel the emotions of Parsons’ family members - even after more than 30 years. Well, I cried.
Also illuminating are the reminiscences of ex-band colleagues like Chris Hillman, Bernie Leadon, Chris Etheridge and Sneeky Pete Kleinow who, whilst marveling at Parsons’ talent, were appalled by Parson’s self-destructive tendencies. Fallen Angel is a great achievement by director Henning. He gives Parsons due credit and tribute for his contributions to rock music but never once, does he glorify or romanticize Parsons’ addictions and ultimate demise.
Highly recommended. A+

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