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.” 

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

The Official Cosmic American Music Book Series

Softcover ($25.27)

Preview/Buy Book

Softcover ($25.27)

Preview/Buy Book

Soft Cover ($25.27)

Preview/Buy Book

My 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, in 1979.  Ultimately 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 that Skip, Pete, Gene, and I were 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 

& 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.     

     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 Sioux 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. 

Promo Picture

Dave & Clark

Granger & Williams

Often Breaks

(Rough Bootleg Recording) 

Clark Williams (Left)

Dave Granger (Right)

(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 Cosmic American Music YouTube 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"

(Song Link)

[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 

Another Founder of Cosmic American Music

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