Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Emmylou Harris--Boulder to Birmingham (1975)

     Emmylou Harris has one of the purest voices in any genre, and much like Neil Young, she has followed her muse at all times, encouraging her fans to follow along. This has made her impossible to pigeon-hole, but has won her fans from all genres, picking up a dozen Grammys along the way. She has recorded many memorable songs, but this one is one of my favorites.
      Harris was admitted to the University of North Carolina-Greensboro on a drama scholarship when she began to take music more seriously. Beginning heavily into folk music she dropped out and moved to New York where she produced her first album in 1969, married, had a child, and soon divorced. She moved moved back to Maryland with her parents to start the new decade.
     She soon returned to singing and in 1971 was heard by Chris Hillman, then of the Flying Burrito Brothers. After briefly considering asking her to become a member of the group, referred her to Gram Parsons who had just left to pursue a solo career. Personally they hit it off immediately. Parsons introduced her to his brand of country rock, and she brought a crystalline voice that was made for his. Although never romantic, she was totally devastated by his death in 1973.   (Harris has some interesting comments on this in an article from The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/emmylou-harris-i-smoked-country-music-but-i-didnt-inhale-2267867.html)
      Thanks to Linda Ronstadt, she got a record deal with Warner and released the 1975 album, "Pieces of the Sky" which contained, "Boulder to Birmingham" which was the first of many attempts to sort out Gram's life, death, and their relationship to one another. It has remained a fan favorite, and laid out the template for her future in music as the torch bearer of his country rock vision.


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