Call me a big fan of Emmylou Harris. Let’s not even talk about how beautiful the woman is–her soul is even more beautiful. And that voice, especially when she gets that little catch in her throat when she sings a particularly heartfelt phrase. It knocks me out. And then we can talk about her impeccable taste in songs, both the ones she writes herself and the ones by others she chooses to record. Emmylou is the poet laureate of American country. I don’t know if its fair to pin a “country” label on her. But I wouldn’t want to ghettoize her with a “queen of folk” label either since she’s a genre bender if ever there was one.
A new album from Emmylou is always a big treat. I haven’t yet heard many tracks from the new one, All the Roadrunning. Can’t say I’m wild about the title. And can’t say I’m wild about Mark Knopfler either. Great guitarist–yes. But there’s a slickness to his musicianship which puts me off a bit. His songs project a jaded, cynical personal which somehow doesn’t charm me. But I guess I should give the album a good long listen before I pass any definitive judgment. From what I’ve heard so far, there is much I like (and some that doesn’t overwhelm me).
I don’t mean for this to sound like a negative post about ‘All the Roadrunning.’ In fact, give a listen to this gem, Love and Happiness, co-written by Harris and another of my favorite Texas songwriters, Kimmie Rhodes. Kimmie recorded the wonderful West Texas Heaven years ago now and I’ve been a fan ever since. Any song combining Harris’ and Rhodes’ songwriting skills has to be compelling. And Love and Happiness is.
Here is what Harris and Knopfler had to say about the song in the Independent:
What got to Knopfler…was the…realisation that we can’t protect our children. “That was something for me to look at,” says the guitarist. “I think we addressed it in Em’s song ‘Love and Happiness’, and because you have a man and a woman singing it, both of whom are parents, it intensifies things.”
Asked about the song she penned with the Austin, Texas, songwriter Kimmie Rhodes, Harris says that “Love and Happiness” might be the only “proper” country song she’s ever written. “You can’t get fancy with that genre,” she says. “Kimmie and I sat down as mothers and thought: ‘What are the things that we would want for our children? What are the metaphors for that deep desire that your child will dodge certain bullets? And what will they need to help them deal with the bullets they aren’t able to dodge? Kimmie had the first verse in the bag, and with that wonderful structure of hers, we wrote the rest in an afternoon. Sometimes they come easy.”
And here are the lyrics:
here’s a wishing well
here’s a penny for
any thought it is that makes you smile
every diamond dream
everything that brings
love & happiness to your life
here’s a rabbit’s foot
take it when you go
so you’ll always know you’re safe from harm
wear your ruby shoes
when you’re far away
so you’ll always stay
home in your heart
you will always have a lucky star
that shines because of what you are
even in the deepest dark
because your aim is true
but if i could only have one wish
then it would be this
love & happiness for you
here’s a spinning wheel
use it once you’ve learned
there’s a way to turn the straw to gold
here’s a rosary
count on every bead
with a prayer to keep the hope you hold
Anyone who is a parent or who’s ever been a parent feels a tug on their heartstrings by a song with those sentiments. Emmylou’s website features a joint interview with her and Knopfler about the album.
Please Note: This mp3 blog showcases my love for traditional music. I hope you come, listen, enjoy, and follow the links to buy the music. Such good deeds reward the artists I feature here and allow me to cover a small portion of the expense involved in maintaining this blog.