Picking up on yesterday’s Gram Parsons post, here is an interview with Emmy Lou Harris in the New York Times:
You blossomed as a songwriter relatively late.
Well, there were so many songs that were already written that I wanted to sing. Really, I don’t know why I avoided it. Sometimes I have to be backed into a corner. After “Wrecking Ball” I wanted to continue on that path, that sort of sound, but I felt that I had to bring something else to the table besides my voice. At about the same time Rodney and I were visiting Guy [Clark] and Susannah, and Guy looked me right in the eye and he said: “You need to write your next record. I don’t care if it takes you five years.” And I think it did.
Gram Parsons was your first mentor and you lost him at a tender age. Does he continue to influence you?
I started out being a fanatical lover of folk music. Country music, even though I was exposed to it, I just thought that I couldn’t be bothered with it. I could not hear the subtlety in it, I couldn’t hear the poetry in it. I was a Joan Baez wannabe. But Gram, he heard something in my voice. He thought I could sing country music. I started as a harmony singer, that was his way to kind of sneakily turn me onto this extraordinary body of music, and in singing country music I really found the place that my voice was supposed to be. It also made me appreciate the joys of working with a band, which meant a drummer, which was anathema to folk singers. I can’t imagine that I would have gotten to the place I am artistically or even vocally, if it hadn’t been for Gram.