Friday, January 3, 2014

Wild Horses

In an unusual stroke of kindness, Keith Richards let Gram Parsons release HIS version of "Wild Horses" before The Stones did.

Still it's The Rolling Stones' version that everybody remembers.

According to Linda Ronstadt, she was there when the whole discussion took place.

In her book "Simple Dreams" Linda tells us:

"One night after we performed on a TV show called 'Playboy After Dark' we went to the Troubadour to see what was going on at the bar.  We ran into Gram Parsons, who said he was going to the Chateau Marmont, a Hollywood hotel where he was in residence, to play some music.  He wanted us to come along.  We got in Bernie (Leadon)'s car and Gram directed us up a winding road in the Hollywood Hills to a large, modern hose that definitely was not the Chateau Marmont.  When we went inside, we were introduced to Keith Richards.  The Rolling Stones were in town putting the finishing touches on 'Let It Bleed', and Keith and Mick Jagger had rented a house for the time they would be working in Los Angeles.  

"Gram and Keith had struck up a friendship over Keith's interest in learning about country music.  We got down to business immediately and sang all the Merle Haggard songs we knew.  Gram was singing lead and Bernie and I added the harmony parts.  Keith was playing guitar and soaking up everything Gram had to show him.  After a few hours, Bernie noticed it was two in the morning and said he needed to make the long drive back to Topanga Canyon.  I had moved to Hollywood by then and he said that he would drop me off.  Gram twisted his choirboy face into a pout and asked if I would stay and go through the George Jones repertoire.  Jones' material was based on duets with Tammy Wynette, so we could sing them without Bernie supplying the third part.  Gram assured me that he could take me home because my house was close to the Chateau Marmont.  I stayed.  We went through George Jones and then Keith played 'Wild Horses', a new song that he and Mick had just written.  

"Gram was salivating over this song and begged Keith to let him record it before the Rolling Stones did.  This was a bold request, as writers who record don't usually give up a song before they release it themselves.  I was surprised when they allowed him to use it on the next Flying Burrito Brothers record, a year before they would include their own version on the album 'Sticky Fingers'.  I wanted the song, too, but knew I wasn't going to have it."  

It was an unusual move ... but not the first time The Stones had let somebody else record their future hit first.  Back in 1964 Mick Jagger let his then-girlfriend Marianne Faithfull record "As Tears Go By" a full year before The Stones released their own version!