In the spirit of the holiday (pun very much intended), I wanted to look back at Kacey Musgraves’spooky story of her stay at the infamous Joshua Tree Motel in the California desert.
If you’re unfamiliar, the Joshua Tree Motel is located in a pretty rural, desolate area popular with artists, hikers, and musicians.
It’s also the place where alt-country legend Gram Parsons overdosed on a combination of morphine and alcohol in a hotel room there in 1973, after purchasing morphine from an unknown young woman.
She injected him in room #1, and he overdosed. After trying several different things, like going to buy coffee to help revive him (yeah, different times…) and his significant other, Margaret Fisher, trying resuscitation, they eventually decided to call an ambulance.
Parsons was declared dead on arrival later that night at Yucca Valley Hospital at 12:15 a.m. on September 19th, 1973, and his personal wish was that he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread over Cap Rock at Joshua Tree.
His stepfather Bob organized a private ceremony back in New Orleans, though, and didn’t invite his friends from the music industry, with multiple reports stating he stood to inherit Gram’s share of his grandfather’s estate if he could prove that Gram was a resident of Louisiana.
In a wild turn of events, two of Parson’s friends stole his body from Los Angeles International Airport in a borrowed hearse, and attempted to cremate his body themselves by pouring five gallons of gasoline into the open coffin and throwing a lit match inside.
It resulted in an enormous fireball, and of course, they were arrested several days later, though because there was actually no law against stealing a dead body, they were only fined $750.
Eventually, what remained of Parson’s body was buried in Garden of Memories Cemetery in Metairie, Louisiana. Since then, visitors of the park have reported countless instances of paranormal activity in room #8, where he passed away.
And one of those people is Kacey, who explained what happened in an interview with Exclaim! a long time back.
She had previously stayed at the Joshua Tree Motel with her crew while filming the music video for “Follow Your Arrow,” which was included on her debut 2013 album Same Trailer Different Park.
And on a day off not long after filming that, they all went back and stayed there again because they loved the “vibe” and thought it was cool.
She says a painting that had been hanging on the wall, which was frameless and pretty lightweight, moved on its own to be propped up next to the couch all by itself:
“Recently we had a day off, and so we all stayed at that motel again. It’s just the coolest place. It definitely has this vibe, you know? Some kind of mojo going on.
Well, in our room there was a painting that had been real high up, kind of close to the ceiling for some reason, just a lightweight canvas painting.
There wasn’t a frame or anything. And I came into the room, and it was off the wall.”
Kacey swears no one had been in her room or anything else could’ve happened that caused it to fall or move, and she had a pretty fair response, saying “what the fuck,” and adding that she wanted Gram to get out, fairly certain it was him:
“It was sitting down. Propped up by the couch. And no one had been in my room! I was just like, ‘what the fuuuuuck?’ Stuff like that, you know?
It’s like: okay Gram, get out of here!”
Now I’m not here to dispute her story which she clearly experienced by herself, and who knows if it was the ghost of Gram Parsons or not, but it does make for a pretty damn cool country music story.
And actually, Kacey referenced the experience in the follow-up album to Same Trailer Different Park when she released “Dime Store Cowgirl” on her 2015 masterpiece Pageant Material, saying:
“Slept in a room with the ghost of Gram Parsons, Drank some wine I can’t afford”
And it’s not exactly a Halloween songs per se, but it only feels right to this up now…