It's no secret that Gram Parsons dearly loved the music of the Louvin Brothers, the classic country duo who wrapped their beautiful, close harmonies around ravaged tales of sin, heartbreak, and regret, and "Sin City" often sounds like a half-parody, half-tribute to the Louvins' greatest music. While there's the slightest hint of a wink and a nudge in its depiction of Satan as a car dealer (and a bit of a smile in Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman's harmonies in the original recording), there's a sense of apocalyptic dread that's all too real in the earthquakes and fiery rain Parsons imagined would one day level the Los Angeles he both loved and despised. "Sin City" would go on to be covered by a number of left-of-the-mainstream country and rock acts, including Beck, Uncle Tupelo, and a dueting Dwight Yoakum and k.d. lang. Commendably, most of the folks who've covered it (especially Uncle Tupelo) sang it just a bit straighter than the Burritos, making it sound like the warning fable Parsons doubtless meant it to be.
by Mark Deming
"THIS old town's filled with sin, it'll swallow you in…." Chris Hillman woke up with the words in his head one morning in early 1969 and, as he made his way to the kitchen of his rented house just off Ventura Boulevard, a few more lines came to him: "If you got some money to burn, take it home right away. But Satan is waiting to take his turn." The former member of the Byrds made a cup of coffee, but the words kept coming and he couldn't wait any longer. He woke up his roommate, Gram Parsons, who was drowsy but quickly found a tune to go with the words; it was a loping lament, like those old Baptist hymns the pair loved so much.
Geoff Boucher, Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2007
Track descriptions on Last.fm are editable by everyone. Feel free to contribute!
All user-contributed text on this page is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.