Guest Author - Chris Curtis
Rhino records proudly releases Heartaches and Highways: The Very Best of EmmyLou Harris. The new release is a retrospective of a career that has spanned 30 years. The distinction of a retrospective should not be interpreted as a "greatest hit" CD but rather a handpicked collection of songs EmmyLou Harris thought best artistically represented her work over the past 30 years.
With her enchanting soprano voice, EmmyLou defies genre classification. She has made significant contributions across many music genres including country, bluegrass, folk, and folk-rock. Perhaps the best description of her style is one of a melodic interpretation of Americana Roots music. Regardless, the development of her style throughout her career has led to one that is uniquely her own.
Produced by EmmyLou Harris and Rhino's James Austin, the single disc is a comprehensive showcase of 20 songs beginning with her 1974 duet with Gram Parsons, Love Hurts. This song marks the recognizable start of her career because it was her collaboration with Gram Parsons that gained her notoriety. It wasn't until 2000 with the release of Red Dirt Girl that we see EmmyLou emerge as a songwriter. Red Dirt Girl was followed up by a second equally acclaimed, self-penned CD, Stumble Into Grace. Michelangelo and Here I Am from those works were chosen to represent her evolution as a songwriter. More importantly is her tribute to Gram Parson which she co-wrote with Bill Dannoff. Boulder to Birmingham proved to be Harris' first Top 10 hit on the Country Charts. First released in 1975 on Pieces of the Sky, it is now featured here as the second cut.
EmmyLou's interpretations of traditional music are celebrated with the selection of Wayfaring Stranger and Green Pastures. That Loving You Feeling Again with Roy Orbison and To Know Him is to Love Him with Dolly Parton and Linda Rondstadt denote her many collaborative efforts.
Performed in every live performance, One of These Days is the song EmmyLou feels best defines her artistic style. It takes its spot as the fifth cut on Heartache & Highways. The CD wraps it up with a brand new replicating cover of Randy Sharps and Jack Rouths' The Connection featuring Randy Sharp on acoustic guitar and back-up vocals.
The artwork on the CD is classic. It features a wonderful picture of EmmyLou as she began her career on the front cover and on the back cover is a more current picture of the timeless beauty she has become. Thirty years, 11 Grammys, twenty songs, and one beautiful woman is captured in the defining work, Heartaches and Highways.
Editorial Aside: In addition to Heartaches and Highways which I believe is destined to become a time honored work, I personally own both Red Dirt Girl and Stumble Into Grace. Both of these CDs are well loved and well worn.
Look for some exciting collaborations coming at Newport's Folk Festival where EmmyLou shares the Sunday August 7th schedule with Bright Eyes and Elvis Costello, both of which she appears as a guest vocalists on their respective recent releases.