Monday, December 3, 2012

"Cimarron" by Emmylou Harris (1981)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl

Filed Between: Bo Hansson and George Harrison

"In the making of records, I think over the years we've all gotten a little too technical - a little too hung up on getting things perfect - and we've lost the living room."-- Emmylou Harris

Key Tracks:
If I Needed You, Born to Run (NOT the Bruce Springsteen song), The Price You Pay (the Bruce Springsteen song)

Obvious Filler & Swings-and-Misses:
There's really not a bad song on this LP, but Rose of Cimarron is definitely the least enjoyable.

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)

"Cimarron" is not one of Emmylou Harris' best outings.  For me, what's missing here is Rodney Crowell's songwriting.  However, even a less than stellar, Crowell-less EH release is way better than most everything else out there.  Her voice is the sound of that specific moment when a heart breaks.  To borrow and old saying, she could literally sing the phone book and I would listen.  HOW she says it is just as important as WHAT she says.

So, when you get her zeroing in on a great song by a legendary songwriter - like a Springsteen tune from "The River" - it is absolutely transcendent.  There's really not much on this Earth that's better.  (And, of course, it's the one song I couldn't find on youtube.  Stupid youtube.)

And "Cimarron" reminds us that, while lonesome is what Emmylou does best, she also does a LOT of other things better than pretty much everybody else.  Like duets.  She broke into the business by showing up Gram Parsons on his records.  Here, we get a Townes Van Zant cover done with Don Williams of all people.  But it works really well.  Oh yeah, and she knows how to throw down some honkytonk swagger too.  "Cimarron" is especially light in that department, but Born to Run (NOT the Springsteen song) lets you know that it's always an option.

Basically, how can you not love Emmylou Harris?  The only way I can figure is if you've never heard her. If that's the case, you're really missing out.

So, is it an album?  Yes.  It's a country angel delivering an endless stream of sad songs that somehow make you smile.

Up next, we veer somewhere between punk and disco with "Parallel Lines" by Blondie.

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