Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Hard Bargain

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Hard Bargain

Article excerpt

HARD BARGAIN

Emmylou Harris (Nonesuch Records, 2011)

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Emmylou Harris' Hard Bargain is the joyous, bittersweet album that a 64-year-old country-rock legend should make. It looks backward to her beginnings ("The Road") and mourns the dead ("The Ballad of Emmett Till"), but it also looks out on the present with compassion for all living creatures--a homeless man ("Home Sweet Home"), the victims of Katrina ("New Orleans"), and even a "Big Black Dog."

Superficially Harris' career seems to follow the arc of a women's self-help book. She started in 1969 providing clear, pure, high harmony for the ultimate country-rock bad boy, Gram Parsons. Together, they were downright archetypal. She was innocence and grace; he was carnality and corruption. But no one's love could save Gram Parsons, who died in 1973 from an overdose of practically everything.

Through the 1970s and '80s, Harris was a Nashville country music star. She was a solo act, but she always seemed more comfortable in the supporting role of a duet. …

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