And I agree. It makes me cry too, almost every time. It's a song of almost overwhelming emotional force and resonance.
Except for one thing.
I don't understand it.
Because it feels like all the action is off-camera, and no-one has quite told you what is going on. In this respect, you can sympathise with the bewilderment of the groom, to a certain extent. Has the bride died? Has she eloped with someone else? Was she pregnant? Have her family snatched her away? Was there a still-birth? What's going on here?
Your explanations are welcomed.
― mike t-diva (mike t-diva), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 14:14 (8 years ago) Permalink
I hate to tell you how he acted when the news arrived He took some friends out drinking andIt's lucky they survivedWell, he told them everything there was to tell there along the wayAnd he felt so bad when he saw the tracesOf old lies still on their facesSo why don't someone here just spike his drinkWhy don't you do him in some old waySupposed to be a funeralIt's been a bad, bad day
The Reverend Dr. William GraceWas talking to the crowdAll about the sweet child's holy face andThe saints who sung out loudAnd he swore the fiercest beasts Could all be put to sleep the same silly wayAnd where are the flowers for the girlShe only knew she loved the worldAnd why ain't there one lonely horn and one sad note to playSupposed to be a funeralIt's been a bad, bad daySupposed to be a funeralIt's been a bad, bad day.
― mark grout (mark grout), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 14:23 (8 years ago) Permalink
Reading the lyrics makes me realize how much of the emotion is NOT in the words, but in the presentation. What is it about the combination of his flattish/"plain" voice and Emmylou's???
― peepee (peepee), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 15:00 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Snappy (sexyDancer), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 15:17 (8 years ago) Permalink
― stew, Tuesday, 1 February 2005 15:56 (8 years ago) Permalink
Incidentally, I don't MIND if the lyrics don't make sense ... it's just that if a coherent meaning CAN be extracted, then I'd like to know about it.
― mike t-diva (mike t-diva), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:00 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Snappy (sexyDancer), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:02 (8 years ago) Permalink
― laticsmon (laticsmon), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:07 (8 years ago) Permalink
is the third verse a non-sequitir? is it the reverend officiating at the wedding. the "same beasts" thing just seems like an elliptical way of describing a fire-and-brimstone sermon. but it does seem as though he's actually referring to a funeral in the third verse, doesn't it?
much of it is a riff on that cliché "hey, cheer up, everyone, this isn't a funeral!"
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:11 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:12 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:14 (8 years ago) Permalink
And he felt so bad when he saw the tracesOf old lies still on their faces
perhaps there were things his friends thought they should have told him before the wedding, but didn't? did the girl run off with someone else? somehow despite all the missing info my picture of the night of the wedding (the bender) is unusually vivid, with this self-destructive groom being trailed by guilty-looking friends concerned for his safety.
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:16 (8 years ago) Permalink
it's pretty straightforward, at least to me. she's gone and the groom showed up anyway. maybe the bride had some history with the groom's friends, hence "old lies." the reverend don't get the score--his proscriptions are "silly" and he doesn't get the fact that the bride-to-be needed to get out and see the world. I think Parsons is comparing the funeral scene, which is a different event, to the wedding, and points out that the platitudes of the Rev don't get at why the bride needed to not show up to the funeral. Parsons shows compassion for both bride and groom.
it's a masterpiece--Parsons's masterpiece, as far as I'm concerned.
― es hurt (ddduncan), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:16 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:17 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:19 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:20 (8 years ago) Permalink
― es hurt (ddduncan), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:23 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:30 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Snappy (sexyDancer), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:34 (8 years ago) Permalink
― es hurt (ddduncan), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:39 (8 years ago) Permalink
Amateurist, I think what your mishearing as an "octave jump" is Emmylou's harmony (I don't have the song with me, but that's how I hear it in my head).
― gygax! (gygax!), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:50 (8 years ago) Permalink
faulkner is a good comparison. i'm sure gram was familiar with faulkner too.
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:53 (8 years ago) Permalink
― es hurt (ddduncan), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 16:59 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 17:01 (8 years ago) Permalink
Couldn't "went away" in the first verse be a euphemism for "she died"? With the notes being passed around the church before anyone even gets round to telling the groom up at the altar, the use of the euphemism heightens the sense that people aren't being strictly truthful with the groom - a theme which continues in the second verse, with the "old lies". In fact, I sense that no-one thinks much of the groom (including the bride's "mean old" mother) - maybe it WAS a shotgun wedding, and maybe the bride died during pregnancy?
So the bride is dead, the wedding is cancelled, the groom goes out and gets drunk that night instead of getting married - during which time he realises that the bride has probably been sleeping with his friends. Maybe it wasn't even his child? Maybe he was duped into the marriage?
This means that Verse Three is the bride's funeral, set at a later date.
I agree that we're meant to find the reverend's platitudes fairly lame and inadequate. Take "she only knew she loved the world" - isn't that a mealy-mouthed reference to the bride's pre-marital sexual history? And then, note the plainness of the funeral: no flowers, no music, barely a worthy send-off at all. It seems that she has died in disgrace, pregnant out of wedlock in a conservative rural community.
In which case, the song's sympathies lie primarily with the groom.
Does that all add up?
― mike t-diva (mike t-diva), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 17:11 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 17:15 (8 years ago) Permalink
― laticsmon (laticsmon), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 17:20 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Snappy (sexyDancer), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 17:21 (8 years ago) Permalink
It wasn't even a bad song, though I don't claim that it was another '$1000 Wedding'.
― the bellefox, Tuesday, 1 February 2005 17:51 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 18:02 (8 years ago) Permalink
The thing I like about Parsons at his best is how he never quite comes out and says it, you know? Like in "Big Mouth Blues." "So you just tell me what's the sense of me sittin' here leavin'/When any old day I might get even." That's beautiful, so sly.
"$1000 Wedding": I don't think the bride is dead, I think she's just gone, which is maybe even worse. Parsons asks how come there isn't a funeral if you're going to act that way, and then I think he turns the whole thing into a funeral, why the hell not? The implication is that the girl was wild anyway and that the groom's buddies all had suppressed some information about her wild days, but it all showed on their faces anyway. Which again, in the world of Parsons, is just as bad as death, if not worse. Lying. I think it's possible he saying that if you're going to pontificate about the dead and how "death can be put to sleep some silly way," why not talk about the *living*, like the girl, who just wanted to live, get out of New Orleans or Macon or Waycross? Why give flowers to the dead and not to the living? That's my reading of it anyway. Shit, I love this song.
― es hurt (ddduncan), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 19:36 (8 years ago) Permalink
― mike t-diva (mike t-diva), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 21:19 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Bumfluff, Tuesday, 1 February 2005 21:22 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Stormy Davis (diamond), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 22:00 (8 years ago) Permalink
I want to know what kind of trouble we're in...
― Stormy Davis (diamond), Tuesday, 1 February 2005 22:01 (8 years ago) Permalink
Also we can't be sure that 'old lies' refers to the girl's hidden relationships with his friends. They may refer to the cliches that people regurgitate to try to provide comfort when bad things happen.
― Amarga (Amarga), Friday, 18 February 2005 11:09 (8 years ago) Permalink
― peepee (peepee), Friday, 18 February 2005 17:55 (8 years ago) Permalink
in other worse, what "peepee" said.
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Friday, 18 February 2005 23:10 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Friday, 18 February 2005 23:11 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Richard Graham, Wednesday, 21 March 2007 12:40 (6 years ago) Permalink
― QuantumNoise, Wednesday, 21 March 2007 13:35 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Stew, Wednesday, 21 March 2007 14:47 (6 years ago) Permalink
― tylerw, Wednesday, 21 March 2007 14:55 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Mark G, Wednesday, 21 March 2007 15:15 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Pye Poudre, Wednesday, 21 March 2007 15:35 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Pye Poudre, Wednesday, 21 March 2007 15:42 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Barringer, Thursday, 22 March 2007 14:36 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Mark G, Thursday, 22 March 2007 14:48 (6 years ago) Permalink
― dmr, Thursday, 22 March 2007 14:56 (6 years ago) Permalink
― QuantumNoise, Thursday, 22 March 2007 14:59 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Richard Graham, Thursday, 22 March 2007 17:03 (6 years ago) Permalink
― gershy, Friday, 18 May 2007 07:18 (6 years ago) Permalink
And as to a line no one else addressed:
"And why ain't there one lonely horn and one sad note to play"
The grieving process--perhaps this song itself--is about coming to this place or this perspective, summing it up and moving on. Grief and emotions (at least according to Sartre) were about not being about to put things in perspective. Grief is a response to something we have not figured out how to respond to. I think this song was highly personal to Parsons (he went through something like it himself) and this is a result of long years commiserating over it.
― rbslo, Saturday, 16 June 2007 19:01 (5 years ago) Permalink
I believe that's a reference to Kierkegaard's Repetition:
The young man sank down sadly
Bright tears from his eyes did rain
He sat him down upon a stone
And his heart it broke in twainLong live the post-horn! It is my kind of instrument for many reasons, but mainly because you can never be sure of getting the same note out of it twice... If oyu give your friends post horns instead of an answer, you will have told them nothing but explained everything. Praised be the post-horn!
Long live the post-horn! It is my kind of instrument for many reasons, but mainly because you can never be sure of getting the same note out of it twice... If oyu give your friends post horns instead of an answer, you will have told them nothing but explained everything. Praised be the post-horn!
Parsons studied Kierkegaard at Harvard.
― eater, Saturday, 16 June 2007 19:15 (5 years ago) Permalink
I mean, yeah, wow, Jesus Christ. This song is absolutely killing me lately.
i've always loved this song, it reads like Faulkner.
That's gotta be why I like it so much. The religious shift in the third verse is hell of Faulknerian.
Is there ANY other country music with lyrics that can be "read" to this extent? The Flatlanders come close but this song is like totally in a class of its own.
― call all destroyer, Wednesday, 15 August 2007 19:18 (5 years ago) Permalink
"I hate to tell you how he acted when the news arrived
He took some friends out drinking and
It's lucky they survived"
^love that part
― bnw, Wednesday, 15 August 2007 19:44 (5 years ago) Permalink
Here's my $1000 worth - one way to look at it.
He's waiting at the altar and the atmosphere isn't right - "Well, why ain't there a funeral, if you're gonna act that way?" He's the last to know that his bride isn't going to show, and when he finds out, he tries to drink her off his mind.
But after pouring out his soul, he finds out that his friends are somehow involved - the final kick in the teeth. If the whole world's against him, someone might as well just do him in. This was supposed to be the 'funeral of his wedding' but instead he finds that he’s been betrayed by his friends.
Now cut to what would appear to be her actual funeral - we can't know how long after - and the only person that seems to have forgiven her is the protagonist. Everyone else feels some kind of shame or guilt relating to her; no one’s even concerned about her at all: “where are the flowers for the girl?” They’re busy dwelling on their individual mistakes or hers, when they should be together in their sadness: "why ain't there one lonely horn and one sad note to play?"
In all the situations, people are tangled up in their guilt instead of offering their sympathy or sharing their feelings.
That's how it seems to me, more or less.
I’d never analysed the narrative of this one in great depth before – I was always intrigued by the fact that he sings “It’s supposed to be a funeral” when it was clearly supposed to be a wedding. And I love the fact that the flowers for the girl come into it twice. I guess you can read it slightly differently to the way I’ve described above but really the specific details are unimportant. It’s an incredible song.
― andysz, Saturday, 27 October 2007 11:20 (5 years ago) Permalink
― bear, bear, bear, Saturday, 18 September 2010 10:16 (2 years ago) Permalink
the way I see it, the bride-to-be ran away with another man, vowing never to return, and the friends/wedding guests quietly condoned her infidelity and maybe even aided her in her flight. the groom is totally oblivious. his friends feel guilty knowing that they'll be implicit in his suffering when he finally hears the bad news. for some perverse reason, they think he'll be less miserable believing that his fiance is dead than knowing that she's smashing another man.
therefore they devise a plan. they let the wedding run its course, feigning happiness but acting nervous and shifty in spite of themselves — hence the note-passing and the groom's curious "funeral" remark. when it's clear (to the groom; everyone else already knows) that the bride is a no-show, someone enters the church and announces, according to plan, that the bride died tragically while preparing for the wedding. perhaps the story goes that the limousine crashed, killing the bride but sparing her "mean old mama" and whoever else rode with them. the groom is devastated, and the wedding guests force out a few tears.
the groom tries to drink away his grief before (or maybe even during) the funeral, and his friends nearly kill themselves trying to keep up with him. he tells them "everything there was to tell", i.e. he repeats all the lies he was told about the bride ("the coroner said she didn't suffer", "she's in heaven now"). he can tell from his friends' expressions that they're not being completely straight with him, but he certainly doesn't realize that the bride isn't really dead. some of his friends, however, suspect that the groom is onto their scheme, and they toy with the idea of murdering him before he gets a chance to exact revenge. it's a miserable day for the groom and an unpleasant one for his friends as well.
the funeral is, by necessity, a closed casket affair. the preacher tries to comfort the groom with images of angels and baby Jesus. but he knows that the funeral is a sham, and he can't help but insinuate, in coded biblical language, that the groom's friends deserve to be punished for their deceitful ways. the line about putting beasts to sleep may be a reference to 2 Peter 2:12, in which dishonest false prophets are condemned to die like cattle at the slaughter. in spite of his moralizing, the preacher is no less guilty than the rest of the conspirators.
the groom is upset that the wedding is such an empty, half-assed gesture, lacking the tender music and decorations his beloved deserves. his plea for flowers parallels the same plea he made at the wedding. here the flowers represent honest, unselfish compassion, which his friends lack. the fact that the groom expects his friends to supply the flowers suggests that he is utterly dependent on them for emotional support at the best and worst moments of his life. they, of course, have let him down completely.
I don't know if "$1000 Wedding" bears any relation to "Hundred Dollar Funeral", which Porter Wagoner released seven years earlier. for what it's worth, here are the lyrics to the latter.
― tickle me lmao (unregistered), Saturday, 18 September 2010 20:29 (2 years ago) Permalink
My favourite part:
So why don't someone here just spike his drinkWhy don't you do him in some old way
― Hymie in Galveston (admrl), Saturday, 18 September 2010 20:33 (2 years ago) Permalink
Is there ANY other country music with lyrics that can be "read" to this extent? The Flatlanders come close but this song is like totally in a class of its own.
Porter Wagoner's 'George Henry Chickashea' stands up to hella analysis, but a "Please explain the lyrics of 'George Henry Chickashea'" would probably turn into a race-related clusterfuck within half an hour, assuming that a good number of ilxors have heard it.
― tickle me lmao (unregistered), Saturday, 18 September 2010 20:34 (2 years ago) Permalink
(the "George Henry Chickashea" lyrics I linked to above are full of dumb mistakes. there's a better transcription here, not that it really matters)
― tickle me lmao (unregistered), Saturday, 18 September 2010 20:37 (2 years ago) Permalink
Stupid question but did Gram (or Emmylou) ever offer their thoughts on the lyrics?
― Fartbritz Sootzveti (Steve Shasta), Saturday, 18 September 2010 23:14 (2 years ago) Permalink
nowhere that i've seen
― bear, bear, bear, Sunday, 19 September 2010 00:36 (2 years ago) Permalink
fwiw wikipedia sez: "$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;"
― tylerw, Sunday, 19 September 2010 17:58 (2 years ago) Permalink
lol @ "plodding"
― p.m.s.b. (pre-mall smoke bomb) (zorn_bond.mp3), Sunday, 19 September 2010 18:08 (2 years ago) Permalink
has that "plodding" version ever been released, bootleg or otherwise? i haven't heard it. there's a sweet solo piano demo tacked on that burrito bros. live thing that came out a couple years ago.
― tylerw, Sunday, 19 September 2010 18:33 (2 years ago) Permalink
Did a little googling and saw this:
After the Byrds:
Back home, Nancy Ross had recently given birth to a daughter, Polly Parsons. Parsons had planned a large wedding -- a Hank Williams-style media event -- and commissioned a $1,000 wedding dress from Nudie's Rodeo Tailors. Despite, or perhaps because of, the birth of their child, Parsons and Ross had drifted apart. The dress was never used, though it was immortalized years later in the Parsons song "$1,000 Wedding."
― Fartbritz Sootzveti (Steve Shasta), Monday, 20 September 2010 01:44 (2 years ago) Permalink
Everyone is discussing Faulkner and Kierkegaard and failed weddings, but the way I interpret the song all the verses make sense and the message is just a sad story about everyday life. Maybe I'm missing something, but back in the sixties there was a moral question about telling others about a terminal illness. Should a doctor tell you there is no hope or just cover up how bad things really are. That was back when doctors and hospitals had some sense of morals and ethics and didn't hype the nonsense that they could deal with anything and make it all better for several hundred thousand dollars. Anyway, as I see it the girl probably had a terminal illness and either didn't know it or else didn't want the groom to know it. However, it seems everyone else knew it and she died before making it to the wedding. Maybe I'm making it too simple, but looking at it this way it all makes sense. He loved the girl and she loved him and couldn't bear to tell him that they wouldn't have very long together and nobody else wanted to tell him either, even though they knew it. Everything was done out of caring about the couple and it broke his heart. It is a genuine heartbreak country song as only Gram could do. That is how I see it.
― trucker47, Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:37 (2 years ago) Permalink
Something just hit me.
Look at the third verse only, as if it were the only verse. It sounds like a sermon being held for a dead child, a baby girl. “She only knew she loved the world” could describe an infant – no complex thoughts, just love of life. The “same silly way” is a phrase fit to a child. “All about the sweet child’s holy face” is self-evident. And maybe the notion of “supposed to be a funeral” is because there is no funeral due to the way the child died (miscarriage?, stillborn?).
Now look at verse 2 by itself. This could surely be about a girl who left him, and his friends covering for “old lies.” Or that the girl died. And it also could be about the death of a child or the child and mother.
Finally, verse one. Given the above explanations for verses two and three, verse one could again be as much about the child as the bride. “Where are the flowers for my baby” could really mean a baby. “I’d even like to see her mean old mama” could be the bride.
I’m not sure I believe the above, but it’s an interesting twist.
― Swannekin, Saturday, 11 June 2011 06:51 (1 year ago) Permalink
"By now Gram had married Nancy Ross and she had become pregnant. Gram didn’t relish the responsibility of being a father and unlike his character in Blue Eyes, he wanted Nancy to have an abortion. She refused and Parsons’ only child, Polly, was born in late 1967. Shortly afterwards, they split up and Nancy moved to Santa Barbara. Gram had revealed himself to be not safe at home and the poor sales of the album led to the submarine sinking."
― it's a meme i made and i like (Steve Shasta), Saturday, 11 June 2011 07:06 (1 year ago) Permalink
i think i will probably never figure this out.
― estela, Tuesday, 11 October 2011 09:21 (1 year ago) Permalink
I think that the line: So why don't someone here just spike his drinkWhy don't you do him in some old wayis a reference to how his mom suddenly died in the hospital, leaving him feeling abandoned while others passed notes and gossiped in order to "protect" the naive young man. Later in his life, Bob Parsons told Gram that he had smuggled booze into the hospital and given Gram's mother a drink. Bob's actions killed her. Gram mother's death was on the day of his high school graduation from the Bolles Academy in Jacksonville. If you look at it this way, celebrations mixed with gossip, abandonment and funerals makes sense.
― Suzanne, Sunday, 1 April 2012 14:21 (1 year ago) Permalink
Tis a thing of beauty. For me it works better if the bride has died. It seems to be about living and dying; and coping with loss. The third verse where the rev spits out his euphoric diatribe juxtaposed with the grooms absolute disconsolation magnifies the grief and mourning. Gram plays with other parallels that seem incongruent like a death and a wedding, a funeral and a party,euphoria with abject loss. Hence it's the saddest song ever. he makes harmony from disharmony. The irony of the line supposed to be a funeral, it's been a bad bad day sums up the lack of empathy and understanding that surrounds him. We sense profoundly his distance. The key changes and the shifts in perspective all lend to the grooms loneliness and loss. It is a work of art. An epic. I doubt there is a better song out there!
― ted, Friday, 20 April 2012 03:04 (1 year ago) Permalink
And why ain't there a funeral, if you're gonna act that way
― yuppie bullshit chocolate blogbait (contenderizer), Friday, 20 April 2012 03:08 (1 year ago) Permalink
The first time I heard this song, out for a lunch date, time stopped, teared up. Maybe not the saddest song ever but close enough
― poxen, Friday, 20 April 2012 03:36 (1 year ago) Permalink
I was only familiar with an outtake version of "1,000 Dollar Wedding" from Gram Parson's Archive Vol. 1: The Flying Burrito Brothers Live at the Avalon Ballroom,, and I only came across this message board after hearing Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield's version and thinking I'd heard Dando sing a different lyric from the one in which I was familiar. On the archive version, Parsons sings, "and with all the invitations sent, / the young bride passed away." Having assumed the whole time the song was about the young bride's death, I searched the lyrics and found the much-more-common "the young bride went away." I think, though, that Parsons himself obviously considered the bride dead and gone,considering the Archive Vol. 1 version. I did enjoy reading everyone's theories and Faulkner/Kierkegaard comparisons, which remain apt.
― Jon White, Saturday, 28 April 2012 05:30 (1 year ago) Permalink
i think it's more likely that he played with it
― Choc. Clusterman (contenderizer), Saturday, 28 April 2012 05:47 (1 year ago) Permalink
And re-reading the lyrics closely, it seems to be that a $1,000 Wedding has literally turned into a $1,000 funeral, and the bridegroom is not impressed with the service. The bride's mom isn't in attendance, there are no flowers, and the guests are gossiping about the cause of death (passing notes to eachother.) Dr. William Grace even remarks that she died in some silly way. Overdose? Suicide? Accident? Regardless, his platitudes aren't a comfort for the bridegroom. I'm trying to actually analyse the lyrics themselves, although I admit there is enough ambiguity to bring doubt to any anlysis.
― Jon White, Saturday, 28 April 2012 05:50 (1 year ago) Permalink
Actually what this song makes me think of literature-wise more than anything is Ford's The Good Soldier - the unreliable narrator, the layers of deception, the odd moments of humor, the declarations of great sadness, etc.
― JoeStork, Saturday, 28 April 2012 08:56 (1 year ago) Permalink
JON WHITE IS CORRECT: THE BRIDE DIES ON HER WEDDING DAY. (I'll cite my source at the bottom of this note.) I think it's probably a drug overdose or a suicide. The groom doesn't know what happened & shows up. The bride's family isn't at the wedding because they are dealing with the tragedy at home. The word gradually reaches the people in the crowd -- but not the groom. When the groom sees everybody looking so grim, he makes a joke about it looking like a funeral. Finally, his buddies (who clearly know a lot more about his fiancee's past than he does) tell him what happened. He goes out drinking with them, & as they all get soused, the buddies tell the groom a lot of bad stuff about his intended that he never knew. He can still see the lies on their faces from all the times they could have told him about this stuff but they chose to cover for her instead. The last verse is not a non sequiter: Meanwhile, back at the wedding, it has morphed into an ad hoc funeral. (Hey, they paid their $1,000, right?) It's been a bad, bad day.My source: I think there are now several official recordings of $1,000 Wedding out. ONLY THE ONE on the Gram Parsons studio album that most of you know doesn't make it clear what's going on.I recommend the album called: Gram Parsons Archives Vol. 1: The Flying Burrito Brothers Live At The Avalon Ballroom April 4th, 1969. The Burritos were opening for hometown heroes the Grateful Dead, & the recording is from Owsley Stanley's archives. Stanley designed the Dead's sound system (when he wasn't designing perfect LSD, as explained in Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne," which is about Owsley). It's a board tape, so you can't hear the audience. The vocals are mixed very loud, so you can the lyrics very clearly. Parsons sings:A thousand dollar wedding was supposed to be held the other day.And with all the invitations sent, the young bride passed away.The groom saw people passing notes..."There are other tiny differences in the lyrics. I think that by the time Parsons recorded the version on his solo album, he wanted to blur the story just a little bit -- possibly so that all of us would be discussing the song for seven years decades after he wrote it!One thing that makes the song even sadder when you do understand it is that it foreshadows Parsons' own death (as does Long Black Limousine, which he also performed). Like the bride in the song, he died suddenly & too young. (Interestingly, Elvis Presley also recorded Long Black Limousine. If I were a country rock star & I identified with that song, I wouldn't dare record it! I'd check into Narcotics Anonymous instead!)
― Slade Barker, Friday, 28 September 2012 16:21 (7 months ago) Permalink