When I was working in Los Angeles, I wanted to visit Joshua Tree. I didn’t know why, then an American colleague explained that all the Limeys find their way to Joshua tree.
On my first Thanksgiving Day, in America, 1997, we arrived in Joshua Tree, a small town outside the national park by the same name. We noticed the Joshua Tree Inn. It was a special place more like staying at friends. The room was personalised, it had a guest book with the thoughts and drawings of previous visitors, as if they had left temporally and would return: among them were many musicians and artists.
We decided to try Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, to listen to Country music. In the evening we discovered just how sweet and warm live Country and Western music is. The band was terrific. In the band’s breaks people working at Pappy & Harriet’s would get on stage and sing and play wonderfully.
Two stunning ladies from LA, actresses, came over and talked to us, perhaps because we were on the band’s table. They were on a pilgrimage to Gram Parsons. What they told me, kind of spooked me. I was not that familiar with Gram Parson’s work. He was - they said - a genius that bridged the gap between country music and rock music. “Where are you staying”, they asked? “Joshua Tree Inn”. “OMG, this was where Graham Parsons stayed, and also where he died!”
Apparently, after his death, a Gram Parsons’s family member - he had become estranged from - arranged to have his body moved back to Louisiana - The hearse drove his coffin to LA airport for the onward transportation.
Only problem, some of his devoted fans felt that Gram Parsons’s had said his spiritual home was Joshua Tree. So, some of them hijacked his coffin from LA airport, to bury him where they believed he would have wanted to be. They drove back to Joshua Tree National Park, and started a fire to cremate him. The police arrived and repossessed what was left of his remains. That is what these two ladies told us! rkw
Joshua Trees (Yucca brevifolia) only grow in California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah, mainly in the Mojave Desert. The name Joshua tree was coined by early Mormon pioneer settlers because the tree shape appeared to them to be reminiscent of Joshua’s hands reaching up in prayer. The Cahuilla Native Americans of the region call the tree "hunuvat chiy’a" or "humwichawa". Joshua Tree is also the name of a place just outside Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree, San Bernardino County, California 1997
Location: Joshua Tree, San Bernardino County, California
Photographer: Richard Keith Wolff