13-TIME GRAMMY® WINNER EMMYLOU HARRIS JOINS DAN RATHER FOR AN ALL NEW EPISODE OF THE BIG INTERVIEW, AIRING TUESDAY, JULY 7, AT 8pE
Dan Rather kicks off six new episodes of THE BIG INTERVIEW this summer with 13-time GRAMMY®-winning country icon Emmylou Harris on Tuesday, July 7, at 8pE. During the candid hour-long discussion, the eloquent and personable Harris discusses her relationship with legendary mentor Gram Parsons, as well as her introduction to country music and her evolution as an artist.
Meeting Parsons proved to be one of the most important moments of Harris’ young career. Describing her serendipitous first encounter with the influential songwriter, Harris says,
“[Flying Burrito Brothers member Chris Hillman] invited me to come sit in with them on their last night, which I did… and Gram [Parsons] just happened to come and sit with the Burritos. Chris told him about me but he said, ‘I don’t remember her name and I don’t have any way to get in touch with her.’ At which point the woman who babysat for my very young daughter, and who also worked for the promoter, this is one of those serendipitous things we talk about, said ‘I think you must be talking about Emmylou Harris, and here’s her phone number.'”
Although Harris, at the time, was a relative newcomer to the Country world, the opportunity to work with an established musical talent, such as Parsons, was too good to pass up. She explains,
“I didn’t really understand or know country music, and I hadn’t really sung much harmony. But there was something about the opportunity to work with Gram… I had no expectations. Then, we went out on the road and we started singing every night, and somehow by osmosis my ears and my heart were opened up to country music.”
This, in turn, helped give Harris the confidence to develop her songwriting, which presented a whole new set of challenges:
“When I got into hearing some of those great songs from my contemporaries like Rodney Crowell, Guy Carlton, Townes Van Zandt… all of a sudden I think I became a little intimidated. The bar became so high as an interpreter, I didn’t want to just put a song out just because I’d written it… there were just so many other good songs out there… and I could relate poetically and experience-wise.
Harris continued, “a song that has the truth is usually a universal truth, so it’s not specific just to one person, even if it comes out of a specific experience.”
One of Harris’ best-known and best-loved songs to come out of this time was “Boulder To Birmingham”—a powerful tribute to her friend and mentor Parsons, who passed away from an overdose at the age of 26. Said Harris,
“I did write ‘Boulder to Birmingham’ in response to Gram’s death, because it was a devastating blow… it was the first time I’d ever really lost someone who was close to me, of my generation. It was a different kind of loss, and it was a shock because it was so unexpected.”
Don’t miss this unforgettable episode of THE BIG INTERVIEW on Tuesday, July 7 at 8pE, only on AXS TV.
And check out Emmylou Harris’ new album The Traveling Kind with her singing partner Rodney Crowell.
To see more of this insightful episode, be sure to tune into THE BIG INTERVIEW on Tuesday, May 19 at 8pE, only on AXS TV.
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