dissonant harmonies

One of my musings of the week has to do with Emmylou Harris, and how in the world she got hooked up with a guy like Conor Oberst. How do you, as a fifty-something bluegrass/country icon, suddenly wake up one morning and decide to sing on the album of a punky young hipster indie rocker who wails
“Well I could have been a famous singer
If I had some one else’s voice
but failure’s always sounded better
let’s fuck it up boys, make some noise”?

I mean, I consider myself a bit of a country gal (as my friend Adam once put it so well, I’ve got “a little bit of down-home” in me) and frankly I’m petrefied of those indie hipster types (even as I begin to infiltrate their ranks). But not Ms. Harris, she bravely steps to the microphone and harmonizes with this kid thirty years her junior who quite possibly does not own a single John Hartford album.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the resulting collaboration is my current favorite thing to queue up on iTunes. I mean, as an eclectic music lover, how can you get any better than finding that a young rocker you inexplicably pine for (er, maybe not so inexplicable…does anyone else think Oberst and Jake Gyllenhaal were separated at birth?) has collaborated with an all-time favorite classic voice? And Oberst, while he may be a tad whiny and annoyingly young to have such success, does tend to write some poetry, which is basically the number one reason I fall for any music with lyrics.

Upon further research, it seems that Emmylou is also the gorgeous voice backing up Ryan Adams on “Oh My Sweet Carolina” off of Heartbreaker. Apparently she kicks off her cowboy boots in favor of beat-up Cons regularly, and perhaps instead of questioning her sanity I should commend her open-mindedness willingness to think outside the musical box.

But still, I’m really curious how Oberst and Harris initially connected, and what a conversation between them sounds like. :)

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This is an article that was posted on Jun 6, 11:48 PM.

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  1. brian Jun 8, 01:41 AM

    You know, Emmylou hooks up with your favorite genre-busting icon, Dave Matthews several times a year in live performances (both he guesting with her and visa versa). As an interesting aside, when Dave broke out to do his solo thing last year, he recorded and toured with her band’s drummer and bassist (and a few others, including some other unknown named Trey Anastasio…)

    But, Dave’s a bit closer to her style…

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