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Unearthing an Unexpected Musical Treasure

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Unearthing an Unexpected Musical Treasure

Music

Unearthing an Unexpected Musical Treasure

Unearthing an Unexpected Musical Treasure

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One of the "demo" tape boxes, labeled with Gram Parsons' first name misspelled, that Mitch Myers discovered. NPR hide caption

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One of the "demo" tape boxes, labeled with Gram Parsons' first name misspelled, that Mitch Myers discovered.

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Country rock pioneer Gram Parsons, circa 1971. HO/Reuters/Corbis hide caption

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From 'Grievous Angel'

'Ooh Las Vegas' - Gram Parsons

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From the Discovered Tapes

'Roll on Waters' - Woody Guthrie

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'This Land Is Your Land' - Woody Guthrie

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When children's author and songwriter Shel Silverstein died in 1999, Mitch Myers was put in charge of organizing his uncle's archives. In the process, Myers made an intriguing discovery — a container of old reel-to-reel tapes. Two tape boxes were labeled "Graham Parsons - Demos" (with the singer's first name misspelled).

The old tapes Myers found were potentially a big deal. Before his death in 1973, Gram Parsons helped move The Byrds toward country music, and was a prime mover on their album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

Myers started calling people familiar with Parsons' musical history. He soon determined that the tapes could have been from the summer of 1964, when Parsons and one of his earliest groups, The Shilohs, did some demo recordings in Manhattan with folk singer Dick Weissman. The main clue was that Weissman's name was listed on the tape boxes along with Parsons'.

Myers' search for the origin of the tapes took him in an unexpected direction.

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