30 January 2018
SETI League
PriUPS Project

Add to Technorati Favorites

Listen to or download MP3 version of this blogitem

The Back of Her Head

The Dusty Years

Ten years ago less just a few days, but long after the roads came through, Emmylou Harris appeared unassumingly in this blog. At the time, I had probably just discovered the song Spanish Johnny, which she sang in a duet with Waylon Jennings. If you scan my Now Playing feature* at the end of each blog, you will find it heavily weighted toward obscure classic rock, psychedelia, and similar material. There is little that can be fit into the "country" category without torture.

So Why Spanish Johnny?

If you read the lyrics (by Paul Siebel), you'll see it's a story-song about this Spanish cowpoke who was a mean dude with some redeeming features. Not, enough, though, and he came to a bad end. Why did this country song find its way into my not particularly eclectic listening?

  • The song
  • The music
  • The harmonies

OK, not much of a bullet list, but it's sure a pretty song. And tells a very succinct yet moving story in a surprisingly compact form.

He died a hard death long ago before the road come in
And the night before he swung he sung to his mandolin

That's quite a lot to cram into two lines! Did I mention the harmonies? Of course, you'll have to listen to it, but the way Waylon blends in near the end I consider Mixing Genius. Anyway, as is idiosyncratically true for all of us, one often just loves a song, and I loved it when I heard it and added it to my NP in a blog that was basically about ESP. As an update to that blog, nobody did guess what the chocolate was all about before I wrote it, so my hypothesis wasn't disproved.

Why Revisit it Today?

Because I saw a performance by Emmylou Harris. I had the good fortune to attend the Grammy Award ceremony this past weekend and Emmylou performed a Tom Petty song with Chris Stapleton, another country singer whom I shall have to investigate. Never expected to see her "live" although I understand there may be another opportunity this summer. Of course I snapped a picture.

A little hard to recognize, although the sitting guy behind me came out well. They put a stage in the middle of Madison Square Garden and a number of the performances were there instead of on the front stage. The front stage was spectacular, by the way, as were the pyrotechnics. A very impressive amount of energy, both infrared and acoustic, was released during the opening number by Kendrick Lamar. Rates a RIKLWOW for that and the performance itself.

Country Music

The main reason, notwithstanding Spanish Johnny, that you don't see any country titles in my NP is that I grew up without it and spent a lifetime in ignorance. The only song of my youth that I'm pretty sure fit the category was Sonny James's Young Love. There were no doubt crossover hits of whose origin I was unaware, and random songs that I happened to hear. But New York City didn't have a country radio station, and it was only while driving in the trackless wastes of Arizona with the satellite radio our only company that I assayed a listen. You know what? If you like classic rock, you'll probably like country! Unlike some rock sophisticates, I never bothered pooh-poohing country. Glad I didn't, glad I discovered it, wish I had more time to listen.

* There aren't all that many "features" in this blog. Let me get away with some exaggeration.

Emmylou Harris and Chris Stapleton



No T-shirts, but we did get a really nice baseball cap.

Richard Factor

Yesterday  |  Tomorrow