12 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Emmylou Harris was hardly a country traditionalist. She’d apprenticed with pioneer country-rocker Gram Parsons and could just as effectively sing Beatles tunes as anything by Hank Williams. The 1970s saw a radical shift in the sound of country records as well. The countrypolitan sound engineered by Chet Atkins and Billy Sherrill was being further modernized by the upcoming “Urban Cowboy” phase that would usher in the ‘80s. Blue Kentucky Girl appeared in 1979, just as pop music was getting ready to re-embrace “country” music in a big way. Harris, however, was finding her country roots. The electric guitars still modulated with a rocker’s sense of tone, but Harris’ phrasing was becoming more chilling with each ballad. “Beneath Still Waters,” “Rough and Rocky,” Gram Parsons’ trademark “Hickory Wind” and Leon Payne’s “They’ll Never Take His Love from Me” (popularized by Hank Williams) remain among Harris’ finest performances. While her career was already in full swing, Harris was still only warming up.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Emmylou Harris was hardly a country traditionalist. She’d apprenticed with pioneer country-rocker Gram Parsons and could just as effectively sing Beatles tunes as anything by Hank Williams. The 1970s saw a radical shift in the sound of country records as well. The countrypolitan sound engineered by Chet Atkins and Billy Sherrill was being further modernized by the upcoming “Urban Cowboy” phase that would usher in the ‘80s. Blue Kentucky Girl appeared in 1979, just as pop music was getting ready to re-embrace “country” music in a big way. Harris, however, was finding her country roots. The electric guitars still modulated with a rocker’s sense of tone, but Harris’ phrasing was becoming more chilling with each ballad. “Beneath Still Waters,” “Rough and Rocky,” Gram Parsons’ trademark “Hickory Wind” and Leon Payne’s “They’ll Never Take His Love from Me” (popularized by Hank Williams) remain among Harris’ finest performances. While her career was already in full swing, Harris was still only warming up.

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