Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell hosted a memorable evening of music at the Troubadour in West Hollywood last night with a few of their friends. It was an astonishing set that lasted for two hours and fifteen minutes. The musicians seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the audience. Emmylou, ever the gracious and generous hostess, invited to the stage a wide range of players, some up and coming, others who needed no introduction.
Emmylou, Rodney Crowell and Jedd Hughes formed the nucleus of a loose and constantly changing ensemble. It was a night that reminded this listener how powerful and glorious music can be, especially the night before the Grammys and their lame collection of what passes for music these days. Hopefully these artists will get together again and tape this in the near future. Austin City Limits would be a great venue for this collection of performers.
It was a very special night: Emmylou’s hootenanny. She is, and has been for a very long time, the best. An angel sings among us.
Here’s the set list as best as I can make out from my scribbled notes along with YouTube links to previous performances of the songs if they’re available:
1. Hanging Up My Heart – feat. Emmylou, Rodney Crowell and Jedd Hughes
2. Invitation to the Blues – feat. Emmylou, Rodney Crowell and Jedd Hughes (“ about as close as country music will ever get to Howlin’ Wolf” said Crowell)
3. ”I didn’t know about silence/until you were gone” – a new untitled song – feat. John Fullbright
4. Bohemian Wedding Prayer – feat. Shannon McNally
5. Dreaming my Dreams with You – feat. Emmylou, Rodney Crowell and Jedd Hughes
6. Chase the Feeling – feat. Emmylou, Rodney Crowell and Jedd Hughes
7. The Luckiest Man – feat. Zac Brown Band
8. One Day with You – feat. Zac Brown Band
9. When the Blue Hour Comes – feat. Joan Osborne and Keith Cotton
10. That is How You Work on Me – feat. Joan Osborne, Emmylou, Rodney Crowell and Keith Cotton
11. The Blower’s Daughter– feat. Damien Rice & Emmylou
12. Bluebird Wine – feat. Emmylou, Rodney Crowell
13. Sis Draper – feat. Shawn Camp
14. Spanish Dancer – feat. Emmylou, Rodney Crowell and Jedd Hughes
(This song is off their new album. The link is to Patti Scialfa’s original)
15. Closing Time – feat. J.D. Souther
16. The Sad Café – feat. J.D. Souther
(A song he wrote about the Troubadour)
17. Dimming of the Day – feat. Bonnie Raitt & James Hutch Hutchinson
18. Angel from Montgomery – feat. Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou & James Hutch Hutchinson
(Bonnie Raitt recalled being on the “hallowed ground” of the club’s stage 40 years ago and after this John Prine classic she berated an audience member taking pictures with her cell phone, telling her and others to “put away your devices and just be in the moment”)
19. God is God – feat. Joan Baez
(In her Artist’s Choice compilation Emmylou wrote “Joan Baez is the reason I picked up a guitar and learned my first three chords.” Joan dedicated this great Steve Earle song “to the broken heart of the world”)
20. Diamonds and Rust – feat. Joan Baez
(“There’s enough soul on this stage tonight to be an antidote to the entire Grammys,” Joan said. She also said she “would have had shut-in’s regret if I hadn’t” made this gig. “There’s nothing like company,” said Emmylou. “Except solitude,” responded Joan. At the end of the song Joan changed her lyrics to “and if you’re offering me diamonds and rust I’ll take a Grammy”)
21. Till I Gain Control Again – feat. Emmylou, Rodney Crowell
22. Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight – feat. Emmylou, Rodney Crowell, Jedd Hughes and others
(In a touching ending, Emmylou was joined by a small child who I assume was her grandchild)
23. Old Yellow Moon – feat. Emmylou, Rodney Crowell, Jedd Hughes
(All of the Emmylou and Rodney songs are from their soon-to-be-released album. Emmylou introduced this song as about friendship. Here’s a recent BBC interview regarding this eagerly awaited work which will be out Feb. 26th and here they are discussing and playing snippets from it.
My heartfelt gratitude and thanks to Emmylou, Rodney and all the musicians involved last night in creating a very magical evening.
I’d also like to thank one of my oldest and dearest friends, Mark Heffington, and my newest and dearest friend, Maureen Pengilley for sharing the experience.
And Lynn, darlin’, so sorry you got snowed in and couldn’t make this one. Not sure how to make it up to you.