Sunday, September 23, 2007

Emmylou Does the Derby

The highlight of the week was getting to go see Emmylou Harris tape a special for BBC TV. Tied in with her new retrospective Songbird, it’s going to be called something like the Ten Commandments of Country. Harris used this concept – she preferred the term “suggestions’ to Commandments – to perform selections from this new boxset. Some of her “commandments” were (and I probably don’t have all the phrasing right, but you’ll get the idea): Help Yourself to Tradition, Love Hurts, Write What You Know, Always Do A Waltz, Do lots of harmonizing, Death Comes To Us All and Always Have A Number to Go Out On. She covered songs by Merle Haggard, the Beatles, Ralph Stanley and Bill Monroe. My personal highlights were her renditions of the Gram Parsons/Chris Hillman classic Sin City and Lucinda Williams’ Sweet Old World. I had seen Emmylou earlier this month join Lucinda on stage – another highlight of this month. Like that show, this one had several song false starts and do-overs. Unlike the Lucinda show, she had no guests play with her. Although she had a fine acoustic band backing her which featured two Seldom Scene founders, bassist Tom Gray and dobro wiz Mike Auldridge. The acoustic band gave her “country” songs a bit of a Bluegrass edge. Also, differing from Lucinda’s show was the presence of Emmylou’s personal hairstylist, who came out and fixed her hair several times between songs. This was strictly because it was being taped for TV. I have no idea when this will run on the BBC. But hopefully it was always be telecasted on BBC America. Overall, it was a night of sublime Americana music performed by one of the living icons of the scene.