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Out Of The Vault: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – June 15, 2013

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Rodney Crowell (born August 7, 1950) is a Grammy Award-winning American musician, known primarily for his work as a singer and songwriter in country music.  He is part of both the alternative country and the mainstream country music camps. Crowell played guitar and sang for three years in Emmylou Harris' "Hot Band".  In August 1972 he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in search of a musical career and got a job as a songwriter after being discovered by Jerry Reed. He later met and befriended fellow songwriter Guy Clark, who became a major influence on his songwriting and vice versa.  While there, he said, "I got a real cold splash in the face of what real songwriting is about. I started filling my mind with as many symbols and images as I could. I started reading. I got real hungry to have something to contribute".  Emmylou Harris had recorded one of Crowell's songs, "Till I Gain Control Again", on her Elite Hotel album and made a request to meet him. After he sat in with Emmylou at her gig at the Armadillo World Headquarters in early January 1975, she asked him to play rhythm guitar in her backing band, The Hot Band. He accepted and left the following day to join Emmylou in Los Angeles.

Although best known as a songwriter and alternative country artist, Crowell enjoyed mainstream popularity during the late 1980s and early 1990s. His critically acclaimed album 1988's Diamonds & Dirt produced five consecutive No. 1 singles during a 17-month span in 1988 and 1989: "It's Such a Small World" (a duet with Cash), "I Couldn't Leave You If I Tried," "She's Crazy For Leavin'," "After All This Time" and "Above and Beyond" (a cover of Buck Owens' 1962 hit). His follow-up album, 1989's Keys to the Highway, produced two top 5 hits in 1990, which were "Many a Long and Lonesome Highway" and "If Looks Could Kill."  As Crowell's popularity in hit-radio country music faded, he continued his prolific songwriting. After 1992's Life Is Messy, he left Columbia Records and signed to MCA Records where he released two more albums.

He was married to Rosanne Cash (daughter of Johnny Cash), from 1979 to 1992 and they had an influence on each other's careers, with Rodney producing most of her albums during that period and her success influencing his songwriting. They collaborated on a number of duets, including 1988's "It's Such a Small World." Although Crowell and Cash are now divorced, they remain on friendly terms, performing together occasionally. Crowell and Cash have three daughters, Caitlin, Chelsea, and Carrie, and together raised Hannah, Rodney's daughter from a previous marriage. He married Claudia Church in 1998.

Emmylou Harris (born April 2, 1947) is an American singer-songwriter and musician. She has released many chart-topping albums and singles over the course of her career, and has won 12 Grammys and numerous other awards.  In addition to her work as a solo artist and bandleader, both as an interpreter of other composers' works and as a singer-songwriter, she is a sought-after backing vocalist and duet partner, working with numerous other artists including Gram Parsons, John Denver, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, The Band, Mark Knopfler, Guy Clark, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Rodney Crowell, Neil Young and Steve Earle.

After college, she moved to New York, working as a waitress to support herself while performing folk songs in Greenwich Village coffeehouses. She married fellow songwriter Tom Slocum in 1969 and recorded her first album, Gliding Bird. Harris and Slocum soon divorced, and Harris and her newborn daughter Hallie moved in with her parents in the Maryland suburbs on the edge of Washington, D.C.   Harris soon returned to performing as part of a trio with Gerry Mule and Tom Guidera. One night in 1971, members of the country rock group The Flying Burrito Brothers happened to be in the audience. Former Byrds member Chris Hillman, who had taken over the band after the departure of its founder Gram Parsons, was so impressed by Harris that he briefly considered asking her to join the band. Instead, Hillman ended up recommending her to Parsons, who was looking for a female vocalist to work with on his first solo album, "GP". Harris toured as a member of Parsons' band, The Fallen Angels, in 1973, and the two of them shone during vocal harmonies and duets. Later that year, Parsons and Harris worked on a studio album, "Grievous Angel". Parsons died in his motel room near what is now Joshua Tree National Park on September 19, 1973 from an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol. Parsons's Grievous Angel was released posthumously in 1974, and three more tracks from his last sessions with Harris were included on another posthumous Parsons album, "Sleepless Nights", in 1976. There was one more album of recorded material from that period of time that was packaged with the name, Live 1973, but was not released until 1982.

The working relationship between Harris and Parsons is of great importance in country and country-rock music history. Parsons offered Harris a study in true country music, introducing her to artists like The Louvin Brothers, and provided her with a musical identity; Harris's harmony and duet vocals, on the other hand, were lauded by those who heard them, and helped inspire Parsons' performances. His death left her devastated at an emotional and musical crossroads. She eventually carried on with her own version of Parsons' musical vision, and was instrumental in bringing attention to his achievements. Harris's earliest signature song, and arguably her most personal one, "Boulder to Birmingham", written shortly after Gram's death, showed the depth of her shock and pain at losing Parsons. It was, according to her best friend Linda Ronstadt, the beginning of a "lifetime effort to process what had happened", and was just the first of many songs written and/or performed by Harris about her life with (and without) Parsons.

When looking for a new record deal, executives of Warner Bros. Records told Harris they would agree to record her if she would "get a hot band". Harris did so, enlisting guitarist James Burton and pianist Glen Hardin, both of whom had played with Elvis Presley as well as Parsons. Burton was a renowned guitarist, starting in Ricky Nelson's band in the 1950s, and Hardin had been a member of The Crickets. Other Hot Band members were drummer John Ware, pedal steel guitarist Hank DeVito, and bassist Emory Gordy, Jr., with whom Harris had worked while performing with Parsons. Singer-songwriter Crowell was enlisted as a rhythm guitarist and duet partner.  Harris's first tour schedule originally dovetailed around Presley's, owing to Burton and Hardin's continuing commitments to Presley's band. The Hot Band lived up to its name, with most of the members moving on with fresh talent replacing them as they continued on to solo careers of their own.

 

Rodney Crowell & Emmylou Harris – SHELTER FROM THE STORM - "Shelter from the Storm" is a song by Bob Dylan, released on his 15th studio album Blood on the Tracks in 1975. The song also appears on two live albums by Bob Dylan—Hard Rain in 1976 and At Budokan in 1978. Along with "Tangled Up in Blue", it was one of two songs from Blood on the Tracks to be re-released on the compilation The Essential Bob Dylan.  From Rodney Crowell’s album “The Outsider”, 2005.

Beck & Emmylou Harris – SIN CITY – Written by Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, and first released on the Flying Burrito Brother’s album “The Gilded Palace of Sin”, 1969.  Taken from the CD “Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons”, 1999.

Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris – IN MY HOUR OF DARKNESS – Written by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, and first released on Gram’s second solo record “Grievous Angel”, 1974.

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Emmylou Harris – LOVE HURTS - "Love Hurts" is a song, written and composed by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. First recorded by The Everly Brothers in July 1960, the song is also well known from a 1975 international hit version by the rock band Nazareth and in the UK by a top 5 hit in 1975 by Jim Capaldi.  Taken from “The Bridge School Collection, Volume 1”, a digital-only release, 2006.

Rodney Crowell – I KNOW LOVE IS ALL I NEED – Written by Rodney Crowell, and first released on his album “The Houston Kid”, 2006.  This version is taken from a radio broadcast in Austin that same year.

Emmylou Harris & The Nash Ramblers – LODI - "Lodi" is a song written by John Fogerty and performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Recorded in March 1969, it was released in April, as the B-side of "Bad Moon Rising", the lead single from Green River.  Taken from the Emmylou Harris CD “Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers At The Ryman Live”, 1992.

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Rodney Crowell – SHAME ON THE MOON - "Shame on the Moon" is the title of a song written by Rodney Crowell and recorded by Tanya Tucker on her album “Changes” and soon after by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band.  Taken from “The Essential Rodney Crowell”, 2004.

Emmylou Harris – TWO MORE BOTTLES OF WINE – "Two More Bottles of Wine" is a song written by Delbert McClinton, which was most famously recorded by Emmylou Harris, whose recording topped the U.S. country singles charts.  Taken from her album  “Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town”, released in 1978.

Steve Earle & Emmylou Harris – COMIN’ AROUND – Written by Steve Earle.  From the Steve Earle CD “The Revolution Starts Now”, 2004

Rodney Crowell – IT DON’T GET BETTER THAN THIS – From his album “Life Is Messy” his seventh studio album released in May 1992 by Columbia Records.

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Rodney Crowell – QUEEN OF HEARTS - Queen of Hearts is the title of a country-pop song written by Hank DeVito, the pedal steel guitarist in Emmylou Harris' backing group The Hot Band, and introduced by Dave Edmunds on his 1979 album "Repeat When Necessary".  Following an appearance of the 1980 Rodney Crowell album "But What Will the Neighbors Think" - on which the song's composer Hank DeVito played guitar, "Queen of Hearts" had its highest profile incarnation via its inclusion on the 1981 album Juice by Juice Newton.

Emmylou Harris & The Nash Ramblers – GUITAR TOWN – "Guitar Town" is the title of a song written and recorded by Steve Earle. It was released in June 1986 as the second single and title track from the album "Guitar Town".  Taken from the Emmylou Harris CD “Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers At The Ryman Live”, 1992.

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Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels  – STREETS OF BALTIMORE - "Streets of Baltimore" is a heavily covered country song written by Tompall Glaser and Harlan Howard in 1966.  Released on Gram’s “GP” album, 1973.  This version was taken from a radio concert on WLIR, NY in 1973.