Long, winding country road
Lady's luck … a meeting with Gram Parsons stole Emmylou Harris from folk's clutches and sent her on a journey in the world of country music.
When Emmylou Harris began her musical journey in the early 1970s, country music couldn't have been further from her mind. Moving from North Carolina to New York's Greenwich Village, Harris frequented coffee houses armed with only her acoustic guitar and a swag of songs, looking for nothing more than a foot in the door of the burgeoning folk scene.
Not long after, she met Gram Parsons and her life and the lives of country music fans the world over changed forever. ''The whole point of the song The Road [from Harris' latest record, 2011's Hard Bargain] was inspired by that [meeting],'' she says. ''The whole point of the song was to say, 'On that road, I'm glad I came to know you'; that sense of wonder at how life turns out, and how people impact your life and change the trajectory.
''I certainly don't want to underestimate the influence of people like [Joan] Baez and [Bob] Dylan and all the people that were going on when that folk music revival happened, because they really brought me into music,'' she says. ''But I had to find a place to put my voice, for where it could be all it was supposed to be, and that was through Gram and singing country.''
Four decades into her career, Harris shows no signs of slowing. She recently recorded a duet album with long-time friend Rodney Crowell, another leading light in country music.
''Yeah, I just finished a record with my old friend Rodney,'' she says. ''We've known each other since 1974, and we've finally made our duet record.''
The album, Old Yellow Moon, comprises a number of songs reinterpreted by Harris and Crowell and will be Crowell's second duet record this year following Kin, the album he released with author Mary Karr in July.
''It was me saying, 'We're gonna do this record, by golly','' Harris says. ''I mean, at a certain point, you've gotta say, we don't have all the time in the world, so let's do it.''
Harris is set to play at the State Theatre backed by her crack band, the Red Dirt Boys. ''It's the same folks that were with me last time [Phil Madeira, accordion, guitar, keys; Rickie Simpkins, mandolin, fiddle; Chris Donohue, bass; Bryan Owings, drums], and also a guitar player called Will Kimbrough, a great electric guitar player.''
She hasn't decided if she will show off some of the tracks from Old Yellow Moon, which is out in February: ''I don't know, I write up the set the day of the show, and then I might change it in the middle, which drives everybody nuts.''
Thursday, 8pm, State Theatre, 49 Market Street, city.
TICKETS ticketmaster.com.au, 9373 6655, from $109.90.
TRAVEL Buses and trains to the city centre, parking stations around the CBD.
LIVE Country, the real kind.
BEST TRACK Boulder to Birmingham, from the Pieces of the Sky album.