emmylou harris has been winning grammies since 1976 and is one of those legendary musicians like bob dylan and patti smith who seem to be artistically relevant forever. like so many of us, she learned to play guitar in college. but unlike so many of us, she pursued her musical aspirations by leaving the university of north carolina for new york, where she lived the romantic life of waitressing/folk-singing in greenwich village (i'm telling you, i was born in the wrong decade). emmylou really found her country groove when the uber-influential gram parsons (former member of the byrds who met an untimely death from a drug overdose) teamed up with her for his first solo album in 1973. in fact, emmylou still graciously lends her hauntingly pretty backup vocals to male leads, like one of my faves, ryan adams, singing one of the best songs ever written, "oh my sweet carolina" (video below).
emmylou wrote most of the songs on "hard bargain" (nonesuch records), which released a couple days ago. it's kind of a quiet, even languid, album, and not just because it opens with "the road," an ode to the late gram parsons. but even on the livelier songs, like "six white cadillacs," it's like she's breathing a big sigh of relief for finally getting this record out into the world. in fact, you can check out the video for that single at garden & gun (yes, garden & gun).