last night in live music: emmylou harris
This weekend being my baby sister's birthday, we decided to celebrate by going to Houston to see Emmylou Harris in concert at Houston's beautiful downtown symphony hall (How many Texas concert halls did the Joneses pay for? Seriously.). Me being a poor graduate student, our seats were not exactly stellar (first row of the nosebleed balcony), but we could see Leigh on the second row of the orchestra, and we had a decent view of the stage. The acoustics in the hall are fantastic, and the bluegrass vibe of the set reminded me more of going to a show in Nashville than of a Texas auditorium.
The show itself was wonderful. Honestly, Emmylou's unique voice is so beautiful, I could listen to her sing the phone book. Backed by John Starling and Carolina Star's bluegrass (follow that link and listen to their cover of "In My Hour of Darkness." Lovely.), she gave a nice retrospective of her career to the adoring crowd, stretching all the way back to her duets with Gram Parsons, with major hits like "Blue Kentucky Girl," "Green Pastures," and her haunting version of "Wayfaring Stranger" off the Roses in the Snow album. Harris typically sings' others songs rather than her own. Last night her versions of Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho & Lefty" and Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams" were particularly lovely, as was her duet version (recorded on Duets) of Nanci Griffith's "Gulf Coast Highway" (which on the album she sings with Willie Nelson).
My favorite song of the night was, however, an Emmylou Harris original, the title track to her 2000 album, Red Dirt Girl. The lyrics to that song about lost ambition, insignificance, and anonymity coupled with the soaring melody in that beautiful setting echoed so many hopes and fears that it's hard to say where the music ended and the living began. That's my kind of show.