If there had been no Emmylou

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If there had been no Emmylou Harris my record collection and, I dare say, yours would look rather different. The music we say we enjoy might also be considerably different and I’m guessing we would perhaps have that slightly compensated by some other artists we ought to know better. However if there was no Emmylou (God forbid) my country music knowledge would be greatly diminished.

Would we all know so much about Gram Parsons and The Burritos? Almost certainly not. It was Emmylou’s mission statement in those early albums to Evangelise the world about Gram and his music. But let’s look through those early records to see what else I learned: The first person we’d have taken a long time to find was Rodney Crowell.

It was there on the first cut of Elite Hotel, Amarillo, a co-write with Rodney and if that wasn’t proof enough we’d surely have had to stop in our tracks when we got to Till I Gain Control Again. It wasn’t till years later I finally The Great Buck Owens.

When I realised Buck we was the guy who’d written, Together Again it all fitted into place. Later on I’d hear Emmylou singing ‘When I Stop Dreaming’ and it would be years later before I realised the significance of the Louvin Brothers. And of course none of us who listened to these early albums will ever forget the first time we say that very unusual form of proper nouns, Townes Van Zandt. It was Emmylou with Poncho and Lefty who single handedly drew the spotlight to the career of Townes.

Not long after this Emmylou and Rodney would cease to be band members. Rodney (the young prodigy) would leave the Hot Band and go on to make some amazing records of his own. He’d also start to have his songs cut by some of the top country singers of all time. In due time he’d also marry into the Carter Cash family and by extension enjoy his own gentle coronation and passage into the Palaces of Country Royalty. Emmylou would carry on making music with… everyone for the next 35 years or so. She’d become the duetist with Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler and she’d sing with Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton as well as making ground breaking records with Daniel Lanois. I could go on…

Thankfully Emmylou and Rodney are still friends and have decided it was high time they made a record. On Friday we’ll play you a lot from their fine new album, ‘Big Yellow Moon,’ we’ll talk about the Hot Band, Brian Ahern – producer and the songs they’ve chosen to sing on the record.

If all of that is not enough we’ll have some great new things from Bonnie Prince Billie and Dawn McCarthy, Phosphorescent, The Milk Carton Kids, Lindi Ortega as well as lovely old things from Doc Watson and Waylon Jennings. It all starts Friday evening at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.

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