Friday, March 18, 2011

Harry Newman 1982 interview with Emmylou Harris (link fixed)

Andoni Urkiaga has a Spanish website, celebrating country music worldwide at
a very nice thing to see.  He contributes the following.  Gracias compadre..

Emmylou Harris, The Birmingham Beauty

Interviewed in the Harry Newman Show (1982)

Today we bring to Archive AFTRS another golden piece of radio history. It´s a Harry Newman aircheck from the American base radio in Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid, Spain, in 1982.

Emmylou  Harris is a country music legend and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. By that time, 1982, Harry Newman was one of the best dj´s of country music along with Gene Price. And both of them worked for the American Forces Radio. On its program he played the best country music  and interviewed the best country music acts like Emmylou Harris or Crystal Gayle. He knew his country music.

But what did it happen in the artistic career of Emmylou Harris by that time? The beginning of the 80´s were a transition time for Emmylou from country music to a personal path that brought her to “Americana” music later in the 90´s.

The Gram Parson´s muse had learnt from its mentor the new ways that should take the original American music. Her career exploded in the middle of the 70´s, when the Texas outlaw movement was ruling the new country music scope. But the Emmylou´s “Back to the basics” was back to forgotten roots, with forgotten acoustic sounds and influences like the Louvin Brothers or alternatives ways like the Bakersfield Sound of Buck Owens, with top country music albums like "Pieces In The Sky" and "Elite Hotel" (1975), "Luxury Liner" (1977), "Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town" (1978), "Blue Kentucky Girl" (1979) and a bluegrass jewel: "Roses In The Snow" (1980). She was really an advanced artist for her time, and clearly an influence of the new traditionalist movement of the middle of the 80´s and beginning of the 90´s yet to come.

Emmylou Harris was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1947. That´s why, in the interview, Harry Newman called her "The Birmingham Beauty". And she really was. A serene beauty with a pristine, angelical and pure voice that oozed the best essences of country music. There have been very few artists that have reunited in her voice the presence, the quality and the cualities of Emmylou Harris.

She was the daughter of career military officer Walter Harris and his wife Eugenia. Walter Harris, a member of the Marine Corps, was reported missing in action in Korea in 1952 and spent ten months as a prisoner of war. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Emmylou Harris spent her childhood in North Carolina and Woodbridge, Virginia. Her first influences were Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan y Joan Baez. Emmylou started her career playing in a trio band with Gerry Mule and Tom Guidera.

In 1971, Chris Hillman from Flying Burrito Brothers saw her in concert and was impressed. He recommended her to Gram Parsons, the big cosmic American music hero. By that time Gram was working in his first album on his own: "G.P". Emmylou Harris became a member of the Parson´s band, The Fallen Angels, and toured with him in 1973. When he was working in the album "Grievous Angel", Parsons died of a drug and alcohol overdose. The album was released in 1974 and in 1976 a new album was released, it was called "Sleepless Nights" and contained the last sessions of Parsons and Harris.

The beginning of the 80´s

Just a little bit earlier, during the period of the launching of Emmylou Harris´ career in the second part of the 70´s decade, she had a frenetic activity and countless recording sessions that produced many original songs and covers that were dismissed in previous albums but were released later in a couple of albums that were catalogued by the critics as “choppy”, but nevertheless they sold well.

"Evangeline" (1981) was the first of them and, perhaps, the most eclectic and different to all the previous stuff recorded by Emmylou Harris.

Among the songs there was a cover of ‘Mister Sandman’, ‘Evangeline’ that had been sung with The Band, ‘Ashes By Now’ of Rodney Crowell and a cover of 'Bad Moon Rising' of John Fogerty.

"Cimarron" was the second album of Emmylou Harris in 1981 and like"Evangeline" it was created with previous songs dismissed in previous recordings. Nevertheless this album has a more solid and accurated mix than ‘Evangeline’, and though the critics didn´t save it, the album worked well in the charts.

This album included the Poco´s song 'Rose of Cimarron', traditional tunes like 'Spanish is a Loving Tongue', 'Born To Run' of Paul Kennerley (not the Bruce Springsteen´s song), classics like 'Tennessee Waltz' or a magical duet with another Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams 'If I Needed You' of Townes Van Zandt.

After these albums she released 'Last Date' (1982), a live album that was recorded in different venues and days and that we can consider a “concept” album, because as Emmylou says in the interview with Harry Newman they wanted to become the local band of a honky tonk playing the songs everybody knows and making people to move, enjoy and have fun.

Songs like 'I´m Movin' On' of Hank Snow, '(Lost His Love) On Our Last Date' of Conway Twitty and Floyd Cramer that became another number one song for Emmylou Harris, or 'Juanita' and 'Devil In Disguise' of Parsons and Hillman.

In this marvelous interview Harry Newman approaches with deep skill and profesionalism to this particular transition moment in the career of Emmylou Harris that progressively would bring her to a more intimistic and personal music far away from charts. No doubt it´s an enjoyable interview that brings us the genuine flavour of the American country music that was gone long ago.


Songs played by Harry Newman

‘C´est La Vie’

‘Born To Run’

‘Son of a Rotten Gambler’

Karen Brooks: ‘Shores of White Sand’ (Emmylou Harris, Rhythmn guitar)

‘Together Again’

Emmylou Harris & Don Williams: ‘If I Needed You’

‘Tennessee Waltz’

‘(Lost His Love) On Our Last Date’

‘I´m Movin´ On’

‘If I Could Only Win Your Love’

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