Gram Parsons: Induct into Country Music Hall of Fame

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It is absolutely amazing and dismaying that the late, great Gram Parsons has not been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  As much as Hank himself,  he influenced the form of music he loved most.  He hated the term "country rock" believing it's either country or it's not.  GP was pure country, and influenced everyone in the field after his tragic death.  It's unimaginable that he not be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Click on "Petition" above to see the Proposal Nomination submitted to CMA and CMHOF. New! "No Depression" Gram page and BB, click here. 
3rd Annual Gram Nation 2010 Nov 5-6 in Boston (click for Facebook). Also in Nashville on Nov. 5.  This petition continues until Gram's induction. Click on "Petition" above for Nomination Proposal.

We the undersigned, based on the criteria established and promulgated by the Country Music Association in regard to an individual's nomination for induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, offer the following:

Basic Standard - A candidate basically is to be judged on the degree of his/her contribution to the advancement of Country Music and on the indelibility of his/her impact.

Ingram Cecil  Parsons, ne Ingram Cecil Connor III (Gram Parsons) meets this standard unquestionably, arguably advancing country music more than any other individual or force within that past 40 some years.  His indelible impact can be seen and is seen in the broad scope of all types of country music today.  His contributions, from the International Submarine Band's "Safe at Home" (which many critics consider to be one of the great country albums of all time), his work with the Byrds during which he literally hijacked a rock band to further his country vision with "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" (upon its release he played the Grand Ole Opry, a milestone the Opry itself marks as being 33 in their top 80 Opry Moments of All Time), through the groundbreaking "Gilded Palace of Sin" and his two albums completed with his protege Emmylou Harris, "GP" and "Grievous Angel."  It should be noted that Ms. Harris herself on numerous occasions credits Gram Parsons for her understanding of and distinguished career in country music and her own well deserved induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Please see the comments of the 3,300 individuals comprising the List of Supporters for further substantiation of this observation.

Individual Candidacy - Only individuals may be elected to the Hall of Fame. Companies, publications, radio stations and other groups--many of which significantly foster Country Music --are not eligible for Hall of Fame recognition.

Gram Parsons, although he worked with many distinguished musicians, including those mentioned above, members of the Flying Burrito Brothers, and Elvis Presley's backup band, is presented here for individual consideration as a country artist; moreover, it is his singular individuality upon which this nomination is based.

Scope of Activity - Flexible authority is vested in the Electors in identifying the scope of a candidate's activity in Country Music. The individual may have excelled in a narrow, specific sphere . . . such as songwriting, publishing, musician, recording artist, etc. or may have been active in several areas. In any event, a candidate must have achieved definitive leadership in his/her own field of Country Music activity. However, it is definitely not mandatory to honor the leaders in every activity related to Country Music. A candidate truly must compete with all candidates in all fields, as well as with all candidates in his/her own field.

We cannot imagine a field of endeavor within country music within which any individual can claim greater and broader excellence than that of Gram Parsons, a scope which encompasses brilliant country songwriting, plaintive and uniquely evocative voice, excellent musicianship on several instruments, and as a leader, his artistic vision compelling others to help him achieve his steadfast objective:  to promote country music and bring it squarely into the next century without turning his back on innovation -- in the era in which he lived, which often was a divisive and turbulent time.  He sought with gentle kindness, good humor, wit and his art to allow those who would not otherwise "see the light" to have it shine on them brightly.

Span of Influence The time factor of a candidate's impact on Country Music is completely flexible. It may cover an uninterrupted span of many years or it may cover two or more distinct and separated time cycles. Conceivably, even a candidate may earn Hall of Fame recognition by one transient act, momentary in time, providing the impact on Country Music is deemed significant enough. Longevity of involvement with Country Music, therefore, will not in itself warrant recognition in the Hall of Fame.

Gram Parsons had a profound and now widely recognized influence on others that continues to this day. More than any other artist of the late 60s and early 70s, Gram brought a new audience to a deep, genuine, and transformational appreciation of country music.  Ironically, his direct influence has actually had as great a longevity, if not greater, than any nominee considering by your distinguished board over the years.  I know of no one in the past 40 years whose influence has actually grown and continues to grow to span the decades and to have as broad an impact on country music than Gram Parsons.  The Gram Parsons estate, which officially backs this petition, has a Facebook site with over 16,000 fans (8/20/10) and seems to grow by thousands weekly.

Influence on Others A most significant criterion in evaluating a candidate will be his/her inspirational effect on others . . . the degree to which he/she multiplies his influence through others to create impact on Country Music far beyond his/her own direct individual contribution.

Gram Parsons had an exponential influence on those of his time and those in the 37 years that he's been gone.  The best testament to this are the comments attached from all over the world, for indeed his influence was arguably more global in spreading the gospel of genuine American country music throughout the world than any other country artist in history (again, please reference the List of Supporters and their countries of origin).

Quantity vs. Quality A candidate's ability to expand the popularity of Country Music is a quantitative virtue. The professionalism of his/her activity is a "qualitative" one. Both quantitative and qualitative criteria are to be considered equally and separately important; conceivably, one may be present without the other.

It is the opinion of this nominator that the Latin word versus should not be used in the above criterion.  Substitute "and."  The key words in this criterion are "a candidate's ability to expand the popularity of country music" as a quantitative virtue.  Many country stars come and go, some even selling millions of records.  But how many of them leave an indelible mark on the dispersion of country music to new audiences and expand its reach to any great extent?  One who did and continues to is Gram Parsons.  Again, the best reference for this is the List of Supporters and their comments.  I was amazed as someone who loved Gram's music back when he was with us that so many, seemingly most, have discovered him recently and express their reverence for his music and wish to emphasize how it has influenced their own style of country.  There is little to add, except to say that any number of expert lists, books and reviews put the five albums in particular listed in the first criterion at the top of influential and both quantitative, over the years, and qualitative excellence far above most others.

Devotion to Others Furthering Country Music by selfless devotion to the interests of others may enhance the candidacy of an individual, but it is not essential to winning. The activities of a candidate may be completely self devoted and still be considered significant enough to warrant recognition.

Perhaps the most striking example of Gram's selfless devotion to others is a letter he wrote from Harvard, one of many, to his little sister Avis, for whom he felt responsible after the death of both parents due to alcoholism.  Please reference David Meyer's biography or other source for this letter (page 163), which is as exquisite in its thought, feeling and artistry as any of his songs.  All who knew Gram knew of his personal devils (a major theme of country music), but they also attest to his humanity and devotion to those he loved.  Again, a good source who has backed this up many times on the record is Ms. Emmylou Harris.

Professional Conduct and Image A candidate is expected to have practiced the highest caliber of professional conduct in order to enhance the public image of both himself/herself and Country Music.

All of the foregoing attest to Mr. Parsons' caliber of professional conduct.  All who knew him attest to the degree to which he had grown, both personally and professionally, during the making of those brilliant final albums.  His music represents a desperate though controlled attempt to bridge the abyss that had formed in the 60s and early 70s.  He would preach the truth of country music to anyone who would listen, and often did.  He would walk into an otherwise dangerous bar in the valley and win over the most hardcore of traditional country fans.  He proudly wore the same suits as Mr. Porter Wagonner, not ironically, but out of a deep respect for the music he loved (indeed, he was one of Mr. Nudie's best friends).  Had he lived, he would have continued to enhance the public image of country music as many of his proclaimed followers have.

Personal Morals and Behavior The selection process is not a judgment of personal morals and behavior, providing the latter do not negatively affect the professional conduct of the candidate and the public image of Country Music.

No one will ever know what definitively happened that night 37 years ago just as no one will know all the details of Christmas Eve 1953.  Gram Parsons lived in an undeniably divisive time, a world between the worlds.   As has been stated, everyone knew Gram had his devils.  As his beloved Louvin Brothers said, "Satan Is Real."  But I am not going to simply write off this criterion by pointing to an equally great country music legend who died a tragic young death fighting his devils.  Recent science has shown that addiction is also real, and is caused by a defect in a gene.  Both of Gram's biological parents were extreme addictive personalities clearly demonstrating this genetic abnormality (again, see Meyer's biography and others).  True, the era he had no choice but to live in didn't help, but to judge Mr. Gram Parsons negatively based on an addictive behavior would not only rule out Hank, Sr., but also many other country music notables by using a prejudicial criterion clarified by modern science.  No, Gram Parsons believed whole-heartedly in his art, in country music, in what William Faulkner called the only thing worth writing about:  the human heart in conflict with itself.

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