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 (2 years 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 (2 years 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 (8 months ago) Permalink