Emmylou Harris & Daniel Lanois to Perform “Wrecking Ball” in Nashville, October 24, 2012
Emmylou Harris and Daniel Lanois, joined by Jim Wilson, Brian Blade and Malcolm Burn, are scheduled perform the Grammy Award winning album “Wrecking Ball” on October 24, at Marathon Music Works in Nashville. The performance is a benefit for Crossroads Campus that helps to transform the lives of disadvantaged people and homeless animals.
While eclecticism is now taken for granted, in 1995 when “Wrecking Ball” was first conceived it was considered by some a risk. Twenty years into her solo career Emmylou Harris was, in a way, a victim of her own success by having made so many excellent records she was fully accepted as a country artist. Like Johnny Cash, she believed in the integrity of the music and in not giving in to what was trendy or fashionable her own integrity was ensured.
Record executives are notorious for wanting artists to keep making the same record forever, once a winning formula has been established, keep on keeping on is usally their motto. So it is ironic that it was an exec at Asylum that suggested she work with a different producer for her next album. She chose Daniel Lanois. Thus, in championing country music and its essence during the preceding 25 years it could be said that her own credibility was also on the line.
She took a batch of songs — some by huge names and others unknown outside of what Phil Ochs called a small circle of friends — to Lanois’ home recording studio in New Orleans. Using musicians that Lanois knew well, what happened there revitalized Emmylou’s career, further established Lanois’ reputation and for the rest of us resulted in one of the seminal albums that defies categorization.
When asked during the recording if “Wrecking Ball” was a country record, Emmylou responded, “I figure we are in a country, so all records are country records.” (Like Big Bill Broonzy being asked if he played folk music, he said it’s all folk music as he had never seen any chickens or cows play music.)
As she travels to San Francisco for an appearance at the Mostly, Strictly Bluegrass Festival this weekend, Emmylou has been appearing with the band that will play with her on October 24 performing many of the songs from “Wrecking Ball.” Here’s the title track from an appearance in Canada a few weeks ago: