I'm not going to say I'm being harassed over this because I'm not. One regular reader has politely enquired about it, that's all. In doing so Dave Bennett (for he it is) has proposed a word for what he was doing in... jogging my elbow. He writes:
Dear Norm, I wouldn't want to geras* you but unless I've missed it over the Christmas/New Year period aren't your loyal readers owed some more episodes [of the Emmylou Review]. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. All the best, Dave.Well, I'm glad Dave sees it like this, since this is how I see it myself: it's gently; and it's definitely for their own good. But, as I replied to him, not only are loyal readers, and also disloyal ones, to say nothing of the Supreme Voice of the Music herself and Galen Drubnachik's Peripatetic Kangaroo, most certainly owed further episodes - which they will get, right up to the last Emmylou album released - but I was actually close to the point of posting this latest one when Dave wrote. You may not believe it, but it's the unvarnished truth.
* geras (verb) - to gently harass/to get someone to complete a task for their own good.
With the three albums to be noticed here, Emmylou enters a middle period, as I like to think of it. After a shaky start (to put it kindly) with the pre-epistemological-break Gliding Bird, she has by now laid down a solid reputation with a series of strong to superb albums, and she here coasts a bit, as she was entitled to, with what I think to be three weaker albums. That's not to say they don't have good things on them. Still, weaker.
1981 - Cimarron
Cimarron has two truly great tracks. They're my top and runner-up, and by Chip Taylor and Townes Van Zandt, respectively. (Townes Van Zandt: I one day want to write a celebration of his music. If you don't know, find out. Believe me.) Emmy sings harmony vocal with herself on the first of them. But even with the bubbling unders, for me the album is average within the Harris canon. Top track: Son of a Rotten Gambler. Runner-up: If I Needed You. Bubbling-unders: Spanish Is A Loving Tongue; Born To Run; Tennessee Waltz.
1982 - Last Date
A live gig, and her least good album after Gliding Bird. As I don't have anything more to say about it myself, I shamelessly plunder the following, which appeared at The Virtual Stoa not too long ago. Chris Brooke speaks there of…
a 1982 live recording of Emmylou Harris performing "I'm Movin' On", backed by the Hot Band going at full blast for three exceptional minutes. Excellent solos on fiddle, keyboards and guitar break up six verses of heroic singing, all of which transforms Hank Snow's country classic into something quite different, far more exhilarating, and altogether less smug.It's not even my No. 1 on the album, yet I stand by my judgement of the album overall. Top track: Restless. Runner-up: I'm Movin' On. Bubbling-under: Buckaroo/Love's Gonna Live Here (Medley).
1983 - White Shoes
You know, people, life can be hard. You write stuff on your blog, and there it is – written. Some smart person's going to show up and say, 'See, he said "weaker" - when anyone can tell... bada-boop bada-bing'. I only have to think about the best track on this album and I'm thinking about crying. And then put it on: gorgeous, melancholy piano intro and a near break in Emmylou's voice in the second line. It's quintessential country music yearning. Runner-up also damn good. So, not that I take back anything I've said, but you can give the middle of these three albums a miss, and then the first and the third of them, and just on account of their best numbers - well, if you could have them and don't, you're not in the best shape you could be. Top track: Like An Old-Fashioned Waltz. Runner-up: Pledging My Love. Bubbling-unders: On The Radio; It's Only Rock 'N Roll.