Emmylou Harris

> > Jun 2008

Emmylou Harris
By James KeastWhat are you up to?
We just finished this record, so I just got back from a week of press in New York and London. I’m going back to New York again to sing at a suicide prevention dinner. Then I come back home and I’ve got rehearsal with my new band to get ready for this tour that starts in June. Then I’ve got a bit of time off, then I’m going overseas. When I’m home, I have a dog rescue here at my house, so that takes up every bit of my spare time. I get a lot out of it.

What are your current fixations?
I’ve just read two really great books. The March by E.L. Doctorow — I’m kind of a Lincoln/civil war buff. Then I read quite a harrowing book that’s really beautifully written called The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion. I haven’t really been able to see a lot of movies — I haven’t had a chance. I just saw Charlie Wilson’s War, which I thought was very good. It’s kind of sad in a way because it was such a triumph and then we kinda blew it.

Why do you live where you do?
I came to Nashville, Tennessee in 1983 on a stopover to wherever else I was going to land. I wanted to do some writing and be closer to my parents, who at that point were living on the East coast. I just ended up putting down roots here. I can’t imagine living anywhere else, I love the people here. I have access to great musicians and great studios, and [ex-husband and producer] Brian [Ahern] has moved here. I have a daughter, she lives in California now. We kind of shared her raising, even though we were divorced. I love the seasons — I missed that when I lived in California — and I’ve really become a Nashville hometown girl.

Can you name something you consider a mind-altering work of art?
I’m obsessed with music, so anytime I hear music that turns me on, I’m altered — still, after all these years.

What’s been your most memorable or inspirational gig – either one you played or attended – and why?
There have been a lot of them, but I was involved a few years ago with the 15-year anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. A friend of mine [country singer George Jones] had written a song called "50,000 Names,” which is one of the most beautiful, moving tributes to all the people who lost their lives and the families who were affected by that. I asked him to come up and sing the song; all I did was sing harmony on it, and I never felt so moved and so humbled. Feeling the response [from] those people — it’s really been America’s forgotten war. It pervades us, but we really still have difficulty knowing how to put it into our history, yet all those people were affected by it in a really specific way. No one has really addressed it, but you could really feel that you were touching people in a way and honouring them and the people whose names were on the wall. Also, it was the first time I had seen the wall, and I had a cousin who was killed over there at the age of 19. I would say, that was probably the most moving, where I really felt that I was part of something much, much greater than myself.

What have been your career highs and lows?
Well, I’ve had a lot of highs, I have to say. My career has been wonderful, not just awards or anything like that, but the great bands and musicians. Singing on a Bob Dylan record [1976’s Desire], who’s a huge hero of mine. All the different people I’ve sung with. And recently, I was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, which I’m still trying to shake hands with that — that doesn’t seem quite real. Lows? There’ve been a few of those. I put out a record called The Ballad of Sally Rose [in 1985] — it was supposed to be my masterpiece. It was a huge commercial disaster. I started out with a big band and we played the record from start to finish, and by the time the reality of the financial burden came through, I had to strip down the band. I found myself playing one afternoon at a petting zoo and someone had a huge portable blaster on their shoulder, listening to the ball game in the front row, and there were big flies buzzing around and I thought "maybe I should think about other jobs.” Right after that we did the Trio record [with Dolly Parton and Linda Lonstadt], and it seems like the lows never last very long. There’s always something interesting and inspiring to do. I’ve been able to work with some of my inspirational heroes: Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Daniel Lanois, Neil Young — they’re all Canadian! I did a tour with Elvis Costello and made a record with Mark Knopfler, so career-wise, I have no complaints at all.

What’s the meanest thing anyone has ever said to you, before, during or after a show?
My fans have always been very polite, thank you very much.

What do you think that everyone should shut up about?
That’s a good question. I think there’s a lot we shouldn’t shut up about. I think there are a lot of problems in the world and we need to keep dialogue going. I think people should stop complaining about their lives. When you look at the world, even with our own situations that seem bad, we’ve got it pretty good. You really have to sit down and count your blessings — we all have to do that.
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Hi Emmylou,

for me you are still one of the best country singers, composers and
performers - and - you are still a hell of a beautiful girl.

cheers,
Walter Lussi (Schlieren, Switzerland)
email: wlussi@gmail.com
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E.L.H. Thank you for all that you do for the Viet Nam veterans, I am one of the forgotten. My question to you is how long have you had your beautiful silver hair? I have had mine since i was born and have gotten every sarcastic comment known to man, but I find yours just gorgeous.
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emmylou as kenny loggins once said '' please come to boston '' although green river and newport aren t all that far away! and it was wonderful seeing you there come again soon _ promise from paul
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Morning Emmy. I have been listening to Gram Parson's and Guy Clark music and found that you played with both. I noticed that Gram used a Gibson J-200 acoustic and that you do also. Is it posible that you have his guitar? Didn't realize all that Gram provided to music history until just recently and I'm enjoying his music and your accompanyment (?). I also have just discovered Guy Clark and find his music beautiful. Seems like you have had the oppurtunity to sing with many wonderful people. Have you been able to meet and sing with Chris Knight? Enjoy your gift. Will follow, just order you LP Pieces of the Sky. Look forward to hearing it. thanks again, myles
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Article Published In Jun 08 Issue