Open Thread: Emmylou Harris, Ever & Always

Did not know, until this NYTimes interview, that Emmylou Harris (& Rodney Crowell) have a new record out:

In her four-decade career, Emmylou Harris has earned a dozen Grammy Awards and a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Her long list of collaborators includes Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Rodney Crowell, an old friend and former band mate with whom she has just released a duets album, “Old Yellow Moon.”…

The passage of time is a recurring motif on your new album. Did you and Rodney have that theme in mind when you were choosing material or did it happen organically?

It was definitely organic, because we’ve been talking about making this record from the time we became friends in 1974. We never had a concept, except the fact that we love to sing together and love the same kind of songs. As we started picking material, it became obvious that we weren’t going to do these lovey-dovey sorts of songs that perhaps might have appealed to us when we were younger.

And yet you’ve returned to songs from both of your pasts. Why do some retain their appeal while others don’t, and how does your interpretation of a song change over time?

It happens so naturally, without really thinking about it, just like aging. We age and our bodies age and our voices age and I think our souls age. A really good set of lyrics can age with you. There’s just a certain intrinsic truth to certain songs. “Dreaming My Dreams” takes on a more serious weight somehow at this point in our lives, and the same thing with “Old Yellow Moon,” which kind of sums up the record and our friendship…

Looking back over your career, do you have misgivings about any of the choices you’ve made?

Not musically. I have two daughters and, especially for my oldest, I really wasn’t there. I’m lucky that she still likes me and we have a good relationship. She’s 40, but they’re always your children, and she lives in Nashville, where I live, so we see each other all the time. It’s almost like we have a second chance at a relationship, and I’m grateful because I really was so focused on the music and, what can I say, my career. I depended on my parents to raise her for a long time and she was in a very loving situation, but I lost those years. Do I regret them? Well, what’s the point? I mean, what is the point of regretting except to perhaps infuse your decisions in the future?…

You still spend quite a bit of time on the road.

I love being on the road, but I’ll go out for two or three weeks, and then come home, and then go out again, because my life with my mother and my daughter is really important. And I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but I have a working dog rescue in my yard at home.

That is a huge part of my life. Bonaparte’s Retreat has become my second career for almost nine years now. We rescue from the Metro Animal Control, where they put down I think 83 percent of the animals that come through. It’s absolutely heartbreaking…

I don’t know if we get wiser, but we have more experiences under our belt, and I think maybe your sense of humor gets more intense as you look at the world from a little bit of a distance. I’m just too busy living every day to really spend a lot of time thinking, “Am I old?” I’m this age. I am in this moment and in this life. One of the great things about dogs, they are totally in the moment, and I think that’s a very difficult thing for humans to do. We’re cursed with self-consciousness. We can’t get away from ourselves. You asked me if I have any regrets? I regret that it took me all that time to figure out I could have a dog on the road.

35 replies
  1. 1
    Hal says:

    I cancelled my Netflix DVD plan and I’m just sticking with streaming now. Between cable and several shows I haven’t even begun to watch yet, plus the fact that I have so little interest in movies being released now a days, it’s just doesn’t make sense to go with the DVD plan.

    So now I’m planning on starting Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and several BBC series like Being Human. I’m also still slowly making my way through Dr Who. I have yet to tackle the David Eccelston season, and between work and school I figure it should be about 10 years for me to watch everything in small viewing sessions.

    Why are there so few decent movies out now?

  2. 2
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Lovely song, Anne. Thanks for sharing.


    I’ve really enjoyed Netflix streaming. Two movies were recommended on BJ last week, Headhunters and The Yellow Sea. Both have English subtitles. I watched Headhunters and enjoyed it. I started The Yellow Sea but was interrupted. It’ll wait for me.

  3. 3
    Santiago says:

    How do i view B-J in mobile?


  4. 4
    danielx says:

    Saw Emmylou, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin and Buddy Miller on the Three Girls and Their Buddy tour a few years back. She still sounds (and looks) wonderful. So did Patty Griffin and Shawn Colvin, natch…I saw Patty Griffin at a local bar about four-five years ago, and she is a tiny person; you wouldn’t believe such a big voice could come from such a small woman.

  5. 5
    Valdivia says:

    it’s snowing here in DC. What happened to spring?

  6. 6
    Linda Featheringill says:

    I just now read Tim’s post from last night about whether there is a god.

    This last week, I saw a program that argued that the universe itself is alive, which is an interesting proposition. It was one of those Through the Wormhole productions.

    If the universe is a living being, is it what we call God?

  7. 7
    WereBear says:

    @Linda Featheringill: If the universe is a living being, is it what we call God?

    It’s certainly bigger than us, so that’s one qualification.

    Which leads to another qualification:

    “One of the standard problems with the universe is that it’s large enough that unlikely things happen pretty often,” explained Nigel Sharp, program officer for extra-galactic astronomy and cosmology at the U.S. National Science Foundation

    Read more:

  8. 8
    mai naem says:

    Not into current country music but I’ve always liked Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. It must be so cool to have such distinctive voices that when people hear your songs on the radio they know who it is. I also think Rodney Crowell and Paul McCartney could be a separated at birth couple.

    Watching Morning Ho and they have Dan Senor on the panel. Why is Dan Senor allowed any face time on any teevee show? Have the people who participated in Carter’s Iranian hostage rescue operation getting face time for years after the disaster?

  9. 9
    Linda Featheringill says:


    The universe moves in mysterious ways, its wonders to perform?


  10. 10
    mai naem says:

    @Linda Featheringill: Not getting into the universe and the big bang theory etc. but I think there’s a god. I’m just not sure god is the way he/she is portrayed by mainstream religions – all good/controlling/dishing out punishment etc. I think of a god who’s kind of standing back watching us doing really stoopid stuff and getting involved maybe to stop us from making ourselves extinct. You have to admit human beings make entertaning reality tv.
    I worked with a guy who didn’t believe in god – to quote him – “god is something invented by man to keep us in line.”

    I saw this on the google this AM. I don’t know and couldn’t care less about Miss. politics and I don’t get into true crime stuff but it’s just an odd story. Why would a seemingly successful happy woman commit suicide at somebody else’s house?

  11. 11
    OldDave says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    If the universe is a living being, is it what we call God?

    Our Lord Universal?

  12. 12

    As usual, let me take this opportunity to remind everyone that Emmylou Harris is my neighbor and is as wonderful in person as she is on stage. I always see her walking her dogs all around and she’s very friendly.

  13. 13

    By the way, George Zimmerman’s brother is a racist asshoole.

  14. 14
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Emmy Lou Harris as a neighbor:

    Wow. Nice neighborhood. :-)

  15. 15
    Linda Featheringill says:


    It would meet the omnipresent test.

  16. 16
    Chyron HR says:


    The Snow Dog is victorious;
    The land of the overworld is saved again.

  17. 17

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Yeah at one point Lucinda Williams rented a house on our street too, but we didn’t live here then. Bet the block parties were amazing! :-)

  18. 18
    xjmueller says:

    I’ve come to appreciate Emmylou in just the past 10-15 years. I have to say, it would be easier to list who she hasn’t worked with than who she has. I saw her with Elvis Costello and again with Steve Earle. She just comes on and sings. She’s a treasure. Here voice isn’t what it once was, but she can deliver a song or a harmony.

  19. 19
    the Conster says:


    New movies really do suck now, because everyone talented is writing for cable TV shows where characters can really be developed. Breaking Bad is mind blowingly good – the best thing on TV since The Wire. I started watching Friday Night Lights which I missed completely, and it was great. Netflix has lots of little offbeat movies that I’m watching, like The Way with Martin Sheen about walking the Camino de Santiago that is just wonderful, and The Puzzle, which is Argentinian, and Everything Must Go with Will Farrell and The Company Men with Ben Affleck and Chris Cooper. The new releases really do suck however.

  20. 20
    cmorenc says:

    @mai naem:

    Not into current country music but I’ve always liked Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell.

    A lot of people get turned off/never turned onto country music because what they’ve mostly been exposed to is the diluted/formulaic crap on commercial country FM stations, which is as unbearably awful in its own way as commercial “top 40” pop is. And about as divorced from its true roots as modern pop is from rock and blues.

    Listen, for example to a chillingly beautiful duet sung by the young Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner “Just Someone I Used to Know” and you can hear both the predominately true-country harmony and instrumentals, but also unfortunately hints of the very beginning influences of “crossover” pop instrumentation creeping in (the horn intro) which infested and mucked up country music within a decase or so later than this song.

  21. 21
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    Last night I learned Dido has released a new album. And now I learn Emmy Lou Harris has.

    Perhaps there is a $DEITY after all.

    Must go to Amazon now an order both.

    FWIW, I still have all my vinyl LPs, probably a couple thousand. One of life’s great pleasures is listening to them while working in my upstairs study / hobby room, stuff like Emmy Lou, Gordon Lightfoot, original albums from all the way back to the late sixties into the seventies. Also have a large collection of classical. Brahms symphonies and concertos will probably be listened to for hundreds of years to come by those who come after us, long after Michael Jackson has mercifully been forgotten.

    I know the world has gone digital, heck, we just bought a Bose radio / CD for the kitchen / den area.

    But the true analog sound of music from a vinyl LP just trumps the harsh digital sampling of the digitized music on a CD any day. That is the truth of the matter, you are listening to a digitized sampling, not the true analog sound.

  22. 22
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    Also, as for Emmy Lou, listen to these two:

    Rose of Cimarron:

    Also, you should sample the songs from the Roses in the Snow album, for much great traditional music, such as Wayfaring Stranger.

    Some seriously beautiful music and singing.

  23. 23
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    @Hal: Because Hollywood has been taken prisoner by CGI and a collapse of originality.

    I actually got to meet and chat for 20 minutes with the producer of the original “Survivor” television show. He is the son of one of my fellow retiree friends. We agreed that CGI was producing movies in which plot and character and acting did not matter anymore. Everything was action, violence beyond any possible human scale, basically, just cartoons on steroids.

    You can find a lot of stuff on Netflix streaming, but you might want to also add an annual subscription to Amazon Prime instant videos, lots of movies and TV series, also lots of great documentaries available there, that you can’t find on Netflix. I added Amazon after discovering I could not get Stargate SG1 original series on Netflix, but it was on Amazon Prime. Plus I get free shipping now on virtually everything that ships direct form Amazon warehouses.

  24. 24
    cleek says:

    y’all are cordially invited to come play Name That Tune, over at my place.

  25. 25
    gbear says:

    I picked up that Emmylou/Rodney CD the day it came out. They’re two of my favorite artists. I was hoping to like the CD a lot more than I did though. The song selection is a bit too nostalgic and both singers voices have changed to the point where they don’t blend as well as they did in their younger days. It’s still a very good album.

    My favorite album by far by Rodney Crowell is ‘The Houston Kid’. He had been out of the limelight for a few years and had gotten himself squared away to a point that he could write a phenominal exploration about his youth and his place in the world now. It’s still one of my favorite albums.

    I’ll second ‘Roses In The Snow’ as one of Emmylou’s best, even though it’s not quite fair to pick one of her very first records as a best album. ‘Bluebird’ was kind of an in-between album in that it mixed up so many styles and moods, but that’s another favorite. Her most recent solo outing is a bit of a listen due to it’s obsessions with aging and death and lonliness. I’m 58 and it was a bit more than I could bear.

  26. 26
    hal says:

    @HeartlandLiberal: I love Dido. She really is under appreciated in the music scene. Her first two CDs are still two of my favorites.

  27. 27
    kc says:

    God, she is gorgeous.

  28. 28
    erlking says:

    Going to see Emmylou and Rodney at DPAC on Saturday. The opening act is Richard fucking Thompson. I can’t wait.

  29. 29
    pete says:

    This post is proof of why even legends have to do interviews to make sure people know they have product out! And it’s good, too.

  30. 30
    burnspbesq says:


    “Houston Kid” is a great record, but “Diamonds and Dirt” is still my fave. And if you haven’t heard the digital-only “Acoustic Trio Live” with Will Kimbrough and Jenny Scheinman, or “Kin,” last year’s collaboration with novelist Mary Karr, check them out.

  31. 31
    gbear says:

    @erlking: Wow. What a ticket!

    Last time I saw Richard Thompson he was opening for Bonnie Raitt. The jerks behind me didn’t have a clue who he was so they talked all the way through his portion of the show.

  32. 32
    Ed Drone says:


    What happened to spring?

    It’s on Spring Break.

    In Cancun.

    Be back in a couple of weeks, if it feels like it.


  33. 33
    moderateindy says:

    One of my favorite Guy Clark tunes , “Black Diamond Strings” has a reference to Rodney Crowell in it. During a TV show with Emmy Lou and Guy Clark before singing the song Clark mentioned Crowell’s father who is also in the song and referred to him as a friend of Emmy Lou’s after which she responded very sarcastically about him being a friend. I wonder what the relationship is between the two of them, because I know she’s been very close to Rodney for years.

  34. 34
    gbear says:

    @moderateindy: Rodney’s dad was a wife beater. Rodney seems to have found a way to forgive him and reconcile, but I bet Emmylou didn’t have to do that.

  35. 35
    pherrl;ich says:

    Southern beal, i want to buy your house- Emmylou,s neighbor. At last my dream come true!

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