Songbird: Rare Tracks & Forgotten Gems

Songbird: Rare Tracks & Forgotten Gems

by Emmylou Harris


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It's difficult to write about Emmylou Harris without lapsing into a long train of superlatives -- she really does have one of the most beautiful voices of her generation, and her taste in material and skill in using her instrument is nearly faultless. However, as good as Harris is and as consistently strong as her body of work has been, one could make a convincing argument that she's been frequently underrated through much of her career -- more than just a lovely woman with a pure, clear voice and a fine ear, she's championed a number of gifted songwriters before they went on to have distinguished careers of their own (from Rodney Crowell to Gillian Welch), matured into a first-rate tunesmith herself, collaborated with a remarkable array of artists, and has never been afraid to take her talents into unexpected directions, from purist bluegrass to the experimental atmospherics of her work with Daniel Lanois. Songbird: Rare Tracks & Forgotten Gems is a hefty four-CD box set (with a bonus DVD) compiled by Harris in collaboration with James Austin that does justice to the scope of a career that's spanned five decades thus far, and unlike most multi-disc collections it isn't merely a super-sized "greatest-hits" collection. Harris and Austin have purposefully avoided her most recognizable work on Songbird, instead charting an alternate path through her back catalog. The first two discs of Songbird represent a roughly chronological overview of Harris' discography, beginning with an outtake from her little heard 1970 debut album, Gliding Bird (an album she's all but disowned in the past), rolling up to speed with two examples of her work with Gram Parsons, and then diving into her solo work from 1975's Pieces of the Sky to 2003's Stumble Into Grace, focusing on Harris' personal favorites rather than radio hits (which were in short supply from the 1990s on anyway). Discs three and four are devoted to collaborations and unreleased material, including several demos that have never before seen the light of day, highlights from her Trio albums with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt, several tracks from the Gram Parsons tribute Return of the Grievous Angel, appearances on tribute collections and discs by other artists, and a handful of live tracks. It's telling that a private recording of Guy Clark's "Immigrant Eyes," recorded as a birthday present for Clark, is as carefully considered and beautifully rendered as anything on these four discs -- one thing that becomes clear is that Harris takes no shortcuts as an artist, and for the broad eclecticism of this set, she's uniformly intelligent, emotionally true, and thrillingly accomplished whenever she decides to sing a song. The set's packaging is handsome, and the accompanying hardbound book contains a brief but eloquent introduction from Harris, a fine biographical essay by Sylvie Simmons, and track-by-track notes by Peter Cooper (with plenty of input from Harris herself). The accompanying DVD, featuring nine television appearances by Harris, seems a bit slight by comparison, though it does contain a few prize moments, particularly a duet with Elvis Costello on "Love Hurts" and some raging guitar work from Buddy Miller on a performance of "I Ain't Living Long Like This." Songbird isn't the most concise celebration of Emmylou Harris' talents you can buy, but it's been assembled with a grace and sense of purpose worthy of its subject; it offers nearly five hours of superb music from a singular talent, and anyone who loves Harris' music will revel in it.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/17/2014
Label: Elektra / Wea
UPC: 0081227956233
catalogNumber: 546436

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Emmylou Harris   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Percussion,Electric Guitar,Vocals,6-string bass,Guitar (Electric Baritone),Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Mike Auldridge   Dobro,Pedal Steel Guitar
Jerry Douglas   Dobro
Alison Krauss   Fiddle,Viola
Tony Rice   Acoustic Guitar,Vocal Harmony
Ricky Skaggs   Acoustic Guitar,Fiddle,Mandolin,Viola,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
John Starling   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Marty Stuart   Mandolin
Dolores Keane   Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Sam Bush   Fiddle,Mandolin,Vocal Harmony
Johnny Cash   Vocal Harmony
Guy Clark   Guitar,Vocals
Rodney Crowell   Acoustic Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Background Vocals,Guest Appearance
Waylon Jennings   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Willie Nelson   Guest Appearance
Dolly Parton   Vocals
Buddy Spicher   Fiddle
Verlon Thompson   Guitar
Iris DeMent   Vocals,Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Jane Siberry   Background Vocals
Edgar Meyer   Bowed Bass
Mary Black   Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Steve Earle   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Bass,Harmonica,Mandolin,Harmonium,Vocals,Mini Moog,Finger Picking
Jonathan Edwards   Guitar,Vocals
Albert Lee   Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
David Lindley   Autoharp
Gram Parsons   Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
Linda Ronstadt   Vocals,Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Amos Garrett   Guitar,Electric Guitar
James Burton   Dobro,Electric Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Gut String Guitar
Rick Cunha   Acoustic Guitar
Geraint Watkins   Hammond B3
Glen Duncan   Fiddle,Mandolin
Jim Keltner   Drums
Bobby Wood   Keyboards
Sheryl Crow   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Lou Reid   Electric Bass,Vocals
Ben Keith   Pedal Steel Guitar
Mickey Raphael   Harmonica
Julie Miller   Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Kevin Salem   Electric Guitar
Brian Ahern   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Bass,Percussion,Tambourine,Gut String Guitar,6-string bass,Guitar (Electric Baritone),Hi String Guitar (Acoustic)
Larry Atamanuik   Drums,Vocal Harmony
Hal Blaine   Drums
Ernie Ball   Bass
Jock Bartley   Electric Guitar
Benmont Tench   Organ
Richard Bennett   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Mandocello,6-string bass
Byron Berline   Fiddle,Mandolin
Brian Blade   Drums
Tony Brown   Piano,Electric Piano
Malcolm Burn   Bass,Percussion,Piano,Drums,Electric Guitar,Hammond Organ,Background Vocals,fender rhodes,Synthesizer Bass
Bob Carpenter   Accordion,Vocal Harmony
Mary Chapin Carpenter   Vocal Harmony
Martin Chambers   Drums
Kathy Chiavola   Harmony
Travis Clark   Bass
Ken Coomer   Drums
Donivan Cowart   Background Vocals
Jim Cox   Keyboards
Chad Cromwell   Drums
Pat Crowley   Accordion
Danny Cummings   Drums
Glen D. Hardin   Piano,Keyboards,Electric Piano
Lincoln Davis   Accordion
Nick DeCaro   Accordion
Hank DeVito   Pedal Steel Guitar
Shane Keister   Synthesizer,Keyboards
Dan Dugmore   Acoustic Guitar
Kenny Edwards   Acoustic Bass
Jimmie Fadden   Drums
Steve Fishell   Dobro,Pedal Steel Guitar
Neil Flanz   Pedal Steel Guitar
Guy Fletcher   Acoustic Guitar,Keyboards
Vince Gill   Mandolin,Vocals,Tenor (Vocal)
Wayne Goodwin   Mandolin,Tenor Saxophone
Emory Gordy   Bass,Vocals,Background Vocals,Double Bass,Acoustic Bass
Tim Gorman   Piano,Background Vocals
Patty Griffin   Vocals,Vocal Harmony
David Grisman   Mandolin
Jeff Hanna   Guitar,Vocal Harmony
Levon Helm   Drums,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Andy Hobson   Bass
David Hoffner   Keyboards
Jim Horn   Recorder
Chrissie Hynde   Vocals
Jimmy Ibbotson   Vocal Harmony
Victor Indrizzo   Drums
Carl Jackson   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Baritone (Vocal),Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
John Jarvis   Piano
Ethan Johns   Acoustic Guitar,Percussion,Drums,spanish guitar,E-bow,Guitar (Baritone)
Mary Ann Kennedy   Mandolin,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Paul Kennerley   Synthesizer,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
Mark Knopfler   Electric Guitar,Vocals
Russ Kunkel   Drums
Lynn Langham   Synthesizer
Daniel Lanois   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Mandolin,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,bass pedals
Bernie Leadon   Banjo
Greg Leisz   Acoustic Guitar
Chris Leuzinger   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Dave Lewis   Drums
Kelly Looney   Bass
Robbie Magruder   Drums
Kenny Malone   Percussion,Drums
Jay Dee Maness   Pedal Steel Guitar
Carl Marsh   Synthesizer
Anna McGarrigle   Accordion,Keyboards,Vocals,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Pat McInerney   Drums
Buddy Miller   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals,12-string Guitar,Mando
Joey Miskulin   Accordion
Larry Mullen   Drums,Hand Drums
Bob Mummert   Drums
Mark O'Connor   Acoustic Guitar,Fiddle,Viola,Mandola
Liam O'Flynn   Human Whistle,uillean pipes
Bill Payne   Organ,Piano,Electric Piano
Jody Payne   Background Vocals
Herb Pedersen   Acoustic Guitar,Background Vocals
Perkins   Banjo,Dobro,Pedal Steel Guitar,Vocal Harmony
Ray Pohlman   Bass
Dave Pomeroy   Bass
Frank Reckard   Guitar,Mandolin
Will Rigby   Percussion,Drums
Randy Scruggs   Acoustic Guitar,Autoharp
Adam Seymour   Guitar
Milton Sledge   Percussion,Drums
Davy Spillane   Human Whistle,uillean pipes
Fayssoux Starling   Background Vocals
Harry Stinson   Drums
Jeff Trott   Electric Guitar
Kyle Tullis   Bass
Steve Turner   Percussion,Drums
Ron Tutt   Drums
John Ware   Percussion,Drums
Bob Wary   Bass
Cheryl White   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Sharon White   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Greg Williams   Drums
Glenn Worf   Bass
John Duffey   Mandolin
Roy Huskey   Bass,Acoustic Bass,Upright Bass
Dr. John   Piano
Smokey Hormel   Guitar
Kenny Vaughn   Electric Guitar
Joey Waronker   Drums
N.D. Smart   Drums
Gillian Welch   Bass,Vocal Harmony
Kate McGarrigle   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Piano,Vocals,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Scott Neubert   Acoustic Guitar
Jon Randall Stewart   Vocal Harmony
Jon Randall   Vocal Harmony
Barry Tashian   Rhythm Guitar
Billy Thomas   Percussion
David Rawlings   Acoustic Guitar,Vocal Harmony
Pat Bergeson   Harmonica,Guitar (Tremolo)
Gabe Witcher   Fiddle
Chris Nole   Piano
John McColgan   Percussion,Drums
Patrick Earle   Percussion
Sylvain Clavet   Percussion
Mike Henderson   Mandolin
Mike Bowden   Bass
Tim Smith   Bass,Guitar (Baritone)
Johnny Cox   Pedal Steel Guitar
Patty Mitchell   Vocal Harmony
Aaron Embry   Piano
Martie Maguire   Mandolin
Rob Price   Bass
Tony Hall   Bass,Shaker
Don Johnson   Keyboards,Vocal Harmony
Billy Payne   Synthesizer,Piano
Emily Robinson   Weissenborn
Wix   Accordion
Mark Knopfler & His Band   Guest Appearance
Greg Liesz   Pedal Steel Guitar
Pam Rose   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Michele Pepin   Bass,Dobro,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Mark Johnson   Organ,Bass,Percussion,Bass Guitar,Vocals,Djembe,bass pedals,Vocal Harmony
Brady Blade   Percussion,Drums,Vocals
Eric Roscoe Ambel   Guitar,Vocals
Beck Hansen   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
David Pomeroy   Bass
John Randall   Acoustic Guitar
Justin Mendal-Johnson   Bass
Peter Bonata   Piano

Technical Credits

Bill Monroe   Composer
Seldom Scene   Producer
Ralph Stanley   Composer
John Starling   Producer,Arrangement Collaboration
Carl Story   Composer
Marty Stuart   Composer
Dónal Lunny   Producer
Beth Nielsen Chapman   Composer
Guy Clark   Composer,Producer
Rodney Crowell   Composer
Gail Davies   Producer
Merle Haggard   Composer
Emmylou Harris   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Liner Notes,Executive Producer,Photo Courtesy
Chris Hillman   Composer
Willie Nelson   Duet
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band   Producer
Dolly Parton   Composer
Leonard Cohen   Composer
Sandy Denny   Composer
Utah Phillips   Composer
Jean Ritchie   Composer
Paul Siebel   Composer
Kate Wolf   Composer
Steve Earle   Composer
Carole King   Composer
John Lennon   Composer
Paul McCartney   Composer
Gram Parsons   Composer,Producer
Bruce Springsteen   Composer
Lucinda Williams   Composer
Jesse Winchester   Composer
Gerry Goffin   Composer
Rick Grech   Composer
Sheryl Crow   Producer
Mark Howard   Engineer
Goebel Reeves   Composer
Carl Belew   Composer
David Olney   Composer
Jerry Sullivan   Composer
Bobby Braddock   Composer
Julie Miller   Composer
Kimmie Rhodes   Composer
Kieran Kane   Composer
Brian Ahern   Arranger,Producer
Richard Bennett   Producer
Hugh Brown   Art Direction
Steve Buckingham   Executive Producer
Malcolm Burn   Producer
Bill Danoff   Composer
Taffy Danoff   Composer
Nick DeCaro   String Arrangements
Jim Dickson   Producer
Ray Ellis   Producer
Steve Fishell   Producer
Nina Gerber   Producer
Glyn Johns   Producer,Additional Production
Emory Gordy   Producer
Nancy Hamilton   Composer
Carl Jackson   Composer,Producer,Duet
Paul Kennerley   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Mark Knopfler   Producer
Daniel Lanois   Composer,Producer,Duet
Richard Leigh   Composer
Ira Louvin   Composer
Charlie Louvin   Composer
George Massenburg   Producer
Anna McGarrigle   Composer
Buddy Miller   Producer
Roger Murrah   Composer
Gary Nicholson   Composer
Alan O'Bryant   Composer
Jamie O'Hara   Composer
Allen Reynolds   Producer
Randy Scruggs   Arranger,Producer
Billy Sherrill   Producer
Fayssoux Starling   Arranger,Duet
Stephen Street   Producer
Sonny Throckmorton   Composer
Townes Van Zandt   Composer
Rafe Van Hoy   Composer
Miles Wilkinson   Producer
Hank Williams   Composer
Bill Wolf   Producer
Liz Meyer   Composer
Ron Hynes   Composer
Kate McGarrigle   Composer
Marley Brant   Producer
John M. Delgatto   Producer
Joe Loesch   Special Effects
Chuck Ainlay   Producer
Shoji Tabuchi   Composer
Barry Tashian   Duet
Joe Werner   Composer
Patrick Milligan   Discographical Annotation
Jean Krikorian   Art Direction
W.S. Stevenson   Composer
Brigitte Lacombe   Cover Photo
Morgan Lewis   Composer
Kenny Sowder   Composer
Walter Martin Cowart   Composer
Twangtrust   Producer
Traditional   Composer
Scott Webber   Art Direction
Sylvie Simmons   Liner Notes
Paul Kremen   Executive Producer
Charles Justice   Composer
Michele Pepin   Producer,Engineer
Michael Dowling   Composer
James Paul O'Hara   Composer
Alan Sides   Engineer
Freddy Fletcher   Producer,Executive Producer
Eric Paul   Producer
Chris Etheridge   Composer
Guy Humphreys   Composer
Gail Griffith   Executive Producer
June McGarrigle   Composer

Customer Reviews

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Songbird: Rare Tracks & Forgotten Gems 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
omarNE More than 1 year ago
this is a great collection of songs from a unique singer. i will enjoy it over and over.
glauver More than 1 year ago
This is not the place to hear Emmylou rock and roll. It is a collection of slow,stately weepers,duets, and gospel ballads. That said, this is the place to really understand her artistic vision. She has taken great care in assembling this box set. My only complaint is the packaging. The book is fine, but the CDs are almost impossible to get out of their slots. I would probably listen to this set more if they were in a jewel case. I have not viewed the DVD.