Love Hurts - Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris (1974)
Our LCM classic this week is a great cover of 'Love Hurts' by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris released in 1974 as part of Gram's 'Grievous Angel' album. The song was written and composed by the American songwriter Boudleaux Bryant and first recorded by The Everly Brothers in July 1960. You might remember that Roy Orbison also covered it in 1961.
After Gram's sad death from an overdose in 1973, Emmylou made the song a staple of her repertoire and has included it in her concert set lists from the 1970s to the present. She has since re-recorded the song twice.
For the recording of Grievous Angel Gram Parsons again convened with his singing partner Emmylou Harris, various members of Elvis Presley's "Hot Band", including James Burton and Glen Hardin and the occasional guest (such as Bernie Leadon and Linda Ronstadt) to record his second solo album for Reprise Records.
The sessions for Grievous Angel took place at Wally Heider Studio 4 in Hollywood with Gram Parsons producing. Lacking much-needed new material, Gram quickly wrote two songs during the sessions ("Return of the Grievous Angel", with lyrics by Boston-based poet and Parsons fan Thomas Brown, and "In My Hour Of Darkness", arranged by Harris) and looked to songs rejected from previous albums and to standard country songs to fill out the album. In regards to the original material, "Brass Buttons" dated from Parsons' brief stint as a Harvard-based folksinger in the mid-1960s; "Hickory Wind" had already been recorded with The Byrds; "$1000 Wedding", about Parsons' aborted plan to wed the mother of his daughter in ostentatious style, had been recorded in a plodding arrangement with the Flying Burrito Brothers circa 1970; "Ooh Las Vegas" had been rejected from GP. "Medley Live from Northern Quebec" is a fake live recording featuring canned applause and ersatz concert ambiance which combines the Louvin Brothers's "Cash on the Barrelhead" with his own "Hickory Wind." Writing in Twenty Thousand Roads, David Meyers praises Harris's increased role on the album, noting that the duet "Love Hurts" contains "a lovely high whine, a mourning, keening reach for the suffering in the song. Neither overdoes it, they feel the pain, they show it to us, they make us feel every bit, but never go too far. Their sustain on the final "love hurts" demonstrates how far they'd come together in emotion and technique."
In spite of the lack of new material, the album took what its predecessor had presented and expanded the format of "Cosmic American Music". After mixing the album at the Capitol tower in Hollywood, Gram set off for Joshua Tree, California, where he would fatally overdose on September 19, 1973.