Psychedelic-Rock'n'roll: Hot Burritos: The True Story of the Flying Burrito Brothers

17 January 2012

Hot Burritos:
The True Story of the Flying Burrito Brothers


Hot_Burritos_The_True_Story_of_the_Flying_Burrito_Brothers,Gram_Parsons,John_Einarson,Chris_Hillman,psychedelic-rocknroll
Hot Burritos: The True Story of the Flying Burrito Brothers
John Einarson with Chris Hillman
336 pages, Jawbone Press 2008


The story of "The Flying Burrito Brothers", probably best known as the bridge between "The Byrds" and "Gram Parsons'" solo career, is brief and oft-told.
"John Einarson"'s biography of the "Burrito Brothers", written with co-founder and longest-serving original member "Chris Hillman", attempts to redress the oversight of the post-Parsons band by following their story to its conclusion. But that's not its only goal. "Chris Hillman" says in the introduction, "Certainly Gram's mystique has overshadowed me. I know that. He overshadows all of us in The Burritos, even if we've gone on to bigger careers since, like Bernie [Leadon] in The Eagles. I don't want to dwell on it. It just is what it is". And yet "Chris Hillman" also calls "Gram Parsons" "the Paris Hilton of rock 'n' roll", and all but dismisses the entirety of his output: his vocals on "The Byrds"' "Sweetheart of The Rodeo" "aren't that good".


The only Burritos-era Parsons songs worthy of high praise are "Hot Burrito #1" and "Hot Burrito #2", and of his solo albums "Chris Hillman" says: "Some of it makes my skin crawl. It's just bad country music". The song "$1000 Wedding", which is usually held up as an example of "Gram Parsons" at his very best, comes in for particularly harsh criticism from "Chris Hillman" on several occasions. "John Einarson" even adds: "It's not one of his finest hours, and the decision to take it out of contention for the second Burritos album, despite a scarcity of material, was a wise one". I suspect you'd be hard pressed to find many "Gram Parsons" or "Burrito Brothers" fans who agree with that point of view.
It's true that the Cult of Parsons has grown considerably over the last decade or so, with CD reissues, books, documentaries, appearing to capitalize on his commercial viability. And that must get frustrating for someone like "Chris Hillman", who worked hard for years with absolute professionalism, didn't die at 26, and will probably never get the attention he deserves.

Hot_Burritos_The_True_Story_of_the_Flying_Burrito_Brothers,John_Einarson,psychedelic-rocknroll,1969,Chris Ethridge,Gram Parsons,Chris Hillman,Sneaky Pete Kleinow,Michael Clarke
The Flying Burrito Brothers in 1969:
Chris Ethridge, Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman, Pete Kleinow, Michael Clarke

"John Einarson" skillfully weaves together a massive quantity of quotes and firsthand observations into what turns out to be an exhaustive history of the band in all its various incarnations (along with each player's pre- and post-Burritos activities). The 336-page volume comes liberally decorated with both familiar and rare photos and probably stands as the definitive word on the band and the musical milieu within which it operated.

2 Comments :

graminternational said...

"Certainly Gram's mystique has overshadowed me. I know that. He overshadows all of us in The Burritos, even if we've gone on to bigger careers since, like Bernie [Leadon] in The Eagles. I don't want to dwell on it. It just is what it is." Then why do you dwell on it so much, Chris? Unfortunately for Chris, Meyer nailed it when he called him out as the "bitter lieutenant" and that's what will stick to him. The tragedy is it wouldn't have to be. I've always maintained that Chris has always been one of the great soldiers in r'n'r history, but beyond that, as a creative genius, no. Well, he's in the RRHOF and Gram is not, just the way he likes it, and it will probably stay that way, at least for a long time, with former bitter bandmates getting together with good biographers like Einarson (who should know better, but you can't blame him, source and sales). For an alternative take on Gram's work: http://bit.ly/tK1cZA.

Dana Spiardi said...

Too bad Hillman is so bitter! The Paris Hilton of rock-n-roll? These comments sure make him look bad! He could have learned a thing or two from Gram about being polite and charismatic!