now playing: Emmylou Harris: Songbird: disc four and the dvd
Rodney Crowell, George Jones, Mark Knopfler, Patty Griffin, Linda Ronstadt, and John Starling are duet partners who show up with Harris here. It’s a fitting range of voices and connections for the adventurous singer, who is known to love to sing harmonies and to look for newer writers and singers, which both Crowell and Griffin were when first she knew them. Her harmony work doesn’t show up much here, by Harris’ choice: she felt it was important to include material on the project where her voice was the leading one. Makes these collaborations all the more interesting, both in themselves and in the reminders of other collaborative projects in which she’s participated.
Six of the seventeen cuts on this disc see their first release here, and there’s a live version of The Pearl, as well. Highway of Heartache, Snowin’ on the Raton, and First in Lne, the duet with Starling, are three of the unreleased tracks.
Harris takes a bluegrass/country turn with Randy Scruggs and Iris DeMent on Wildwood Flower, and her song with George Jones, Here We Are, marked the first time she’d recorded with a singer who’d been a longtime inspiration her own work. The last song of this seventy eight track trip finds Harris again with her friends Ronstadt and Parton, singing When We’re Gone, Long, Gone.
The ten cuts on the dvd span Harris’performing career from Together Again with the Hot Band through Love Hurts with Elvis Costello. I Ain’t Living Long Like This, with Spyboy, is especially notable. It’d have been nice to see some of Harris’ Austin City Limits performances, or her gigs at Merlefest; with nine cuts to span forty years, what is there are interesting choices. The tenth video is Harris making a plea for a cause she believes in strongly, animal rescue.
She believes strongly in music, too. “The possibility of one song gets me out of bed in the morning,” she says.
All things considered, it’s as interesting see what Harris chose to include in this package as it is to hear the music.