I have a huge crush on Emmylou Harris. Not only for her long dark hair (circa 1970’s), and that wailing southern voice, but having such a respected talent that musical legends such as Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young asked her to play alongside them.
Emmylou Harris definitely takes the cake.
Moving to New York during the late 60’s to pursue her musical aspirations, while working as a waitress, Emmylou started to perform at the Greenwich Village coffeehouses during the folk boom. It wasn’t until 1971 that The Byrds’ Chris Hillman saw her perform and recommended her to Gram Parsons, who at the time was looking for a female vocalist to collaborate with on his first solo album, GP.
Harris then toured as a member of Parsons’ band, The Fallen Angels in 1973, and the two of them were loved and admired for their vocal harmonies and duets. Later that year, Parsons and Harris worked on a studio album, Grievous Angel. Parsons died in his motel room near what is now Joshua Tree National Park on September 19, 1973 from an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol.
Harris’ earliest signature song, “Boulder to Birmingham“, written shortly after Parsons’ death, showed the depth of her shock and pain at losing Parsons. It was, according to best friend Linda Ronstadt, the beginning of a “lifetime effort to process what had happened.”