Saturday, September 19, 2015

Emmylou, At Last

The camera had been drinking, not me!
I've heard those rumors. You know the ones. That I have some kind of fangirl obsession with the singer Emmylou Harris. I don't know who started them, but let me just say right here and now...the rumors are absolutely true!

I was in a record store in Royal Oak, Michigan, where I lived at the time (1975), and they had a wall of record albums displayed. Two of the LPs were by some chick called Emmylou Harris: "Pieces Of The Sky" and "Elite Hotel." The first had a sort of soft-focus image of an ethereal-looking pretty gal, and the second had an image of a gal wearing high boots and sitting on the steps of a hotel, looking like she had attitude to spare. Guess which one I left the store with? Once I heard "Sin City", "Wheels", and all the other great songs on it, I was hooked.

But my favorite of her early albums was the next one, "Luxury Liner." Those songs are like the soundtrack to my young life. I checked the songwriting credits on my two Emmylou albums, and saw that some guy called Rodney Crowell had written several of my favorites. Who's Rodney Crowell?

Time went by. A lot of time! My "Wrecking Ball" cd got a lot of play when I was getting divorced. The next one, "Red Dirt Girl", might be my favorite of them all. All that to say, Emmylou's music has been a constant in my life since I was twenty. "Tulsa Queen" can still make me cry. "Amarillo" still makes me crank up the volume. "Big Black Dog" makes me smile.

A couple of years ago, my dear friend Sherry Marr sent me "Pieces Of The Sky" on LP. I had never bought it, over all those years. I love it, and so, naturally, I went out and found about five more Emmylou albums on vinyl, to go with my cd's (and now mp3's). 

But now, a confession: I had never seen my idol perform live! Enter another friend, Lynn. When she found out that Emmylou and Rodney Crowell were going to be playing Royal Oak, she let me know, and said, "You've got to go!"  (A lot of people tell me I've got to go, but Lynn meant it nicely!) So I did. Last night!

When the band walked out on stage, people clapped and all, but when Emmylou came out, you could just feel the great affection her fans have for her. In all honesty, the band seemed a little off during the first couple of numbers, but then they hit their stride. They played "Pancho & Lefty", "Ooh Las Vegas" and "Boulder To Birmingham", which pretty much brought the house down. Then they played "Luxury Liner." I don't recall the guitarist's name, but man can he play! I do remember Rodney Crowell saying that the guitarist is Australian, and that he describes his homeland by saying "the stars are so bright you can hear them." 

Emmylou talked about how Rodney Crowell sent her a parcel of cassette demos. I loved hearing her talk about stuff. I'd love hearing her read the phone book, probably. Anyway, they played "The Traveling Kind", and a song I had never heard, which made me cry, called "When We Were Beautiful", which I'll include a video of at the end of this post. (It isn't from last night, but the band line-up is the same.)

Emmylou wore red shoes, tight faded jeans with the cuffs rolled up the way she does, a white top, and a loose brown jacket. She looked great. And of course, that hair.

They wound up with "Ain't Livin' Long Like This", a great song I associate with Waylon Jennings, but it's written by Rodney Crowell. They also played an old Ray Price number called "Invitation To The Blues" and a song off "Pieces of The Sky" called "Bluebird Wine" that really made people tap their feet.

So. It's true. Emmylou is awesome, amazing, perfect, etcetera etcetera! At the very end of the show, a handler brought her dog out on stage, and she talked a little about adopting shelter animals and spaying and neutering. Then they were gone, but...not quite! On the way out of town, we passed their tour bus parked at the curb, and who should come striding out the back door of the theater but Rodney Crowell! Bye, Rodney!

Here is that video:


Kerry O'Connor said...

I can imagine the mixture of the surreal and the instant unfolding as you enjoyed the concert, Shay. I'm so glad you went. Thanks for inviting us along too.

Helen said...

I awakened this morning wondering how the concert was ~~ and you threw in a video for us? Wow!

hedgewitch said...

You make it real for us--I feel like I was there, and I heard a bit of each of those songs in my demented mind as you listed the titles. Thanks for the surrogate Emmy-Lou high, and so glad you got to go and see her perform. Very cool that she did that thing about rescue dogs and neuter and spay,too. What a woman--totally deserves your fangirlhood. Luxury Liner may be my favorite album as well. I need to get Red Dirt Girl.

Other Mary said...

Woo Hoo! (And I love that she's an advocate of adopting shelter animals.)

Susan said...

Thanks for the report from the front lines of Love and Music. Thanks for the video too. Tears in my eyes.

Kay L. Davies said...

I'm SO happy for you, Shay. I somehow thought you had seen her before, so I'm especially glad you saw her now.
Luv, K

Mama Zen said...

I'm just going to crawl off somewhere and die of jealousy!

Outlawyer said...

So great. I also have seen her once a few years ago. She was just fabulous. She is so beautiful as well as having such a beautiful voice. And she gives a sweet a generous concert. So glad you saw her. So so great. k.

TexWisGirl said...


so glad you got to see her perform in person! and really glad it was all you expected and more! love it when someone is a great talent, can perform well in person (instead of studio-morphing), has great talents around them, and then is a darn good person, too (love of animals.)

Cloudia said...

Magic Magic MAGIC!

And You SO deserve magick

Now I feel like I was there...... <3


Lynn said...

I played the video while making breakfast - beautiful! I'm so glad you got to see Emmylou! I could just see the whole thing. And do glad I could help make that happen!

Sioux said...

You saw Emmylou last night and didn't get arrested? A-mazing!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh wow, I almost feel like I was there with you. Killer song - but she is still as beautiful as she ever was. When I saw her a few years ago, I was amazed at how tiny she is, with that big voice. I felt just like you did when I saw k.d.lang live, and she gave it her all, as she always was one of those golden evenings, right? Sigh. I am so happy you finally got to see her live. Long overdue. Yay.

mac said...

Im glad you liked the show!

I should check her out the next time she's in town. Yanno, the great thing about living in Nashville is, there's always good music somewhere close :-)

(So far this year, Steve Earl was my favorite, followed very closely by Storm Large, what a voice on that lady!)

Joanna Jenkins said...

How cool is THAT!!! It sounds like a fabulous evening in a more intimate setting so you could really feel the vibes and hear the great stories. I'm so glad you finally got to see her perform live! WOW.
xo jj

brudberg said...

I got into Emmylou a lot later... actually for many years I shrugged at "country music", but then I bought the wrecking ball record, and after that I was hooked. I have seen her perform twice, once with Marc Knopfler and once solo.. and yes I have actually started to appreciated Country Music after that.. I wonder if you ever saw this one?