Tuesday, September 18, 2007

now playing: Emmylou Harris: Songbird: disc two

Bang the Drum Slowly, with its reflection acceptance, pain, history, and hope is a centerpiece of the nineteen tracks on the second disc of Songbird: Rare Tracks and Forgotten Gems, the four cd/1dvd box set from Emmylou Harris released today on Rhino Records. Drum is a song Harris wrote after thinking about conversations she wished she’d had with her father.

Disc two traces the route from Sweetheart of the Rodeo’s road trip country shuffle (with Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Linda Ronstadt, and Gail Davies on hand too) from The Ballad of Sally Rose to the spare generosity of Cup of Kindness (with Julie Miller and Kate McGarrigle backing Harris) from Stumble Into Grace. All three of these are songs Harris wrote herself, Drum and Cup appearing after a renewed commitment to song writing as “part of my job” which Harris has made in recent years.

That, of course, only shines more light on how well she gets at meaning in the songs of others she choose to interpret -- and interpret is an advised word when in comes to Emmylou Harris. One of those which stands out here the McGarrigle sisters’ Back to Harlan. It is from Wrecking Ball, a controversial album when Emmylou Harris and Daniel Lanois teamed up for it in 1995, and in some ways still so , but it is interesting to see how well the tracks Harris has chosen to include here fit in with the more country material that comes before, and the singer songwriter areas Harris continued to explore later on. Two other favorites from this disc: Brand new Dance -- that’s just such a good song, and Bright Morning Stars, which is gospel song from Angel Band, a set of tracks recorded informally in Harris’ living room. Get Up John from Live at the Ryman is a fine slice of the energy of that gig and that version of the Hot Band, too.

more to come on this boxed set. meanwhile

first impressions of Songbird

if you like Harris, find out more about two other artists you will enjoy:
Carrie Newcomer and Cathie Ryan

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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