Cosmic American Music

What Is Cosmic American Music?

Cosmic American Music is hard to define, and often easier to define by what it’s not. Michael Grimshaw in his essay “Gram Parsons, Theology and Country Music” writes: “Parsons’ mission was the creation of a new way forward, a way to musically heal the separation and increasing divisiveness of late modern life. His term for what he attempted was Cosmic American Music. 

“The narrative focus of country became superimposed on the more urban concerns of rock so instead of statements of desire or anger followed by exclamatory choruses (as one could characterize much of rock), this new form takes the listener on often both a psychological and physical journey – short stories in three-minute forms. The aim was to bring together the past with the present and provide a musical and cultural point of epiphany. 

To do so, Parsons reused the language and rhythms of country, played them through the language and rhythms of rock, and in himself attempted the incarnated embodiment of a musical and cultural reconciliation. To speak theologically he was both prophet and messiah: both pointing the way to a new beginning and attempting to live out the struggles of just what that new beginning involved.” 

Here are some of my key points in the definition of the genre:

Featured Cosmic Music Artist...

For The Nude Party, nearly a decade has flown by in the blink of an eye. In that time, the New York-based band has released a pair of well-received albums, an EP, and played countless shows. Before the pandemic, the band was starting to hit its stride. They had a system in place and were spreading their brand of melodic rock to the masses. They could count Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, and Orville Peck as vocal supporters, which led to support slots for each. Soon, incredible live appearances at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Newport Folk Festival, and Shaky Knees became the norm. 

In late 2020, The Nude Party released its sophomore album, Midnight Manor, which debuted at #1 on the Alternative New Artists Album Chart. The sextet was unable to tour behind it and compared its release to skipping a stone over a raging river. A byproduct was that it showed the band that on their third album, they couldn’t lean on their tried-and-true method of testing out new material live and then hunker down to record. 

Instead of sitting around, the band got busy. Setting up shop in their Upstate New York headquarters, the group used the funds they’d saved and spent a year building a studio space out of a barn. Tired of paying for studio time and being rushed, The Nude Party methodically worked at their own pace. Out were the sessions lasting a strict handful of days. In were impromptu writing moments and picking every sound as they went along.

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(*Americana is a relatively new genre and by its own definition it literally includes everything. You can’t say “Americana” does not include some Cosmic American Music.) 

The Official 

Cosmic American 

Music Book Series

Cosmic American Music I 

"The Story of Country Rock and Its Resurgence" 

Six years in the making. Two hundred twenty-four pages with 80 music artists and bands ranging from Buck Owen's, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Steve Earl, Nick Lowe, and Son Volt. The book has 700 + pictures, graphics, and really cool-looking logos (quite the variety, I must say).

(224 Pages)

Softcover ($25.27)

Preview/Buy Book

Cosmic American Music II

"Call to Mind; More of the Old and More of the New" 

The sequel to Cosmic American Music. Cosmic American Music Volume 2 completes the Cosmic American Music journey. It has 228 more music artist and band history pages with over 375 sharp-looking pictures and logos. 

(228 Pages)

Softcover ($25.27)

Preview/Buy Book

Volume Three

"The Music and the Moment of Change"

The third addition to the Cosmic American Music trilogy. Cosmic American Music Volume 3 completes the Cosmic American Music journey. It has 80 more music artists and band history pages with over 400 sharp-looking pictures and logos. 

(216 Pages) 

Soft Cover ($25.27)

Preview/Buy Book

Clark's Story 

The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Nancy Parsons. The antics that went on with all of us in the green room before, during, and after the Flying Burrito Bros. reunion concert at the Maintenance Shop, 1979.  Utimatly affecting where I am today.

The Flying Burrito Brothers & Nancy Parsons

     I initially met the band back in 1979 in the green room of the Maintenance Shop in Ames, Iowa. I just moseyed in and started mingling with the backstage crowd. Everyone was pounding down drinks including Nancy Parsons. We all got fecked up pretty good. The band played two sets with a long break in between. Skip Battin and Nancy Parsons took a liking to me and we hit it off pretty well. Skip was funny and witty. After I met him I always called him Kane. Just like in his song. When it was time for them to split, Nancy slipped and sprained her ankle. The next thing I knew was with Skip, Pete, Gene, and I was carrying Nancy out of the bar, through a crowd, and into a limousine.

     The line-up of the band back then was, Gib Guilbeau (violin and vocals), Skip Battin (Bass and vocals), Pete Kleinow (pedal steel), and Gene Parsons (drums.) 

Granger & Williams and Nancy Parsons

Then, a few months later, it happened again, but differently.

     Dave and I, (Granger & Williams,)were playing at an exotic dance club on Duff Ave. called, I think, “The Fox Lounge”. The Fox didn’t have dancers on Mondays, but instead, opted for acoustic bands.

     Well, sometime during the first set, I couldn’t believe who walked in. It was Nancy Parsons and her boyfriend Steve.  If you haven’t made the connection by now, Nancy is Gram Parsons widow. Her boyfriend was the owner of A and R studios just northwest of Ames.

     Both of them sat up in front of the stage. After a few songs, Nancy asked us if we knew how to play Hot Burrito #1.

     Of course we knew it; so we played it. She liked it and she liked how Dave and me sounded.

     She had connections to help us record (A and R Studio), a road manager (Excelsior Entertainment), and a friend of hers, Judy Collins.     


Clark Williams (Left)

Dave Granger (Right)

(Rough Bootleg Recording) 

Promo Picture

Dave & Clark

Later on that year the Burrito Brothers were doing the mid-west leg of their tour that included Kansas City, Ames, Moline Illinois, Minneapolis, and Soux City S.D. Nancy, along with Excelsior hooked us up.

     After that, Dave and I got sick of each other so we split up. I ended up floating from one group to another then hooked up with the Old Triangle, helped found a very successful seafood restaurant, co-owned a sushi restaurant, and ended up promoting Irish Music concerts along with freelancing as an assistant Chef for entertainers that headline Wells Fargo Arena, (Miranda Lambert, Jon Pardi, Ashley McBride, Carrie Underwood, Dwight Yoakum, and get this...WWE Raw, that was quite different). 

Right Now

I just accepted another entertainment company to do work with, ATN Event Staffing. This company produces top-end rock concerts. My first gig with them was a Jack White concert

     I've also been hooked up with the Wells Fargo Arena here in Des Moines. Whenever A Chef needs an assistant, I get a call to help prepare incredible banquettes for the headliners before their concerts.

     I've had the privilege to work for and meet artists such as Miranda Lambert, Thomas Rhett, The Eagles, Chris Stapleton, and Carrie Underwood.

     Of course, I do have my own production company, King Baby Productions, that does all kinds of cool stuff. Art, writing, Chef(ing), and music, and am still a member of the Celtic Music Association that promotes only the top, best Celtic music in the state of Iowa. 

And to think... All of this was just a chance to happen.

Granger & Williams

Often Breaks

(Rough Bootleg Recording) 

More About 

Cosmic American Music

With those initial thoughts in mind, here’s a “Top 16” list, (but not absolutely in order), of albums that represent the Cosmic American Music genre.

Essentially, Country-Rock is rock bands playing country music. It is country music informed by rock's counterculture ideals, as well as its reliance on loud amplification, prominent backbeat, and pop melodies. The first country-rock bands -- the Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons, the Byrds, Neil Young -- played straight country, as inspired by the Bakersfield sound of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, as well as honky tonkers like Hank Williams. As the genre moved into the '70s, the rougher edges were smoothed out as the Eagles, Poco, Pure Prairie League, and Linda Ronstadt made music that was smoother and more laid-back. This became the predominant sound of country-rock in the '70s. In the late '80s, a small group of alternative rock bands began to revive the spartan sound of the original sound of Parsons and Young. 

Here's the link to the Youtube Cosmic American Music channel...

A Song For You

Gram Parsons' daughter, Poly, wrote the words down on these two pieces of paper for me on Christmas Eve, 2020. These are the words to her father's song. "A Song For You".  If you'd like to hear the song, scroll back up to the top of this page and click the abstract portrait of Gram. I will always cherish her gift.  

"A Song For You"

[Verse 1] 

Oh, my land is like a wild goose

Wanders all around, everywhere

Trembles and it shakes 'til every tree is loose                          It rolls the meadows, and it rolls the nails 



So take me down to your dance floor

And I won't mind people when they stare

Paint a different color on your front door

And tomorrow, we will still be there  

[Verse 2] 

Jesus built a ship to sing a song to

It sails the river, and it sails the tide

Some of my friends don't know who they belong to

Some can't get a single thing to work inside  


So take me down to your dance floor

And I won't mind the people when they stare

Paint a different color on your front door

And tomorrow, we will still be there


[Fiddle Solo] 

[Verse 3]

I've loved you every day, and now I'm leaving

And I can see the sorrow in your eyes

I hope you know a lot more than you're believing

Just so the sun don't hurt you when you cry 


Oh, take me down to your dance floor

I won´t mind the people when they stare

Paint a different color on your front door

And tomorrow, we may still be there

And tomorrow, we may still be there 

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