Thursday, January 7, 2010
Emmylou Harris "I Didn't Know It Was You"
"Don't tell me what you're against; I'm far more interested in what you are for."
So says the love of my life, the woman whose turn of a phrase has more than once turned my wayward vessel from crashing on the crags of negativity. Like water, human nature seems to seek out the lowest level possible, and I'm as guilty as anyone else of sinking to the bottom.
Most negative statements are offered up as sly strategies to protect ourselves, our property, and our possessions.
There aren't too many holy wars that have been waged in the name of positivity, that's for sure. And now that the world is online, those wars rage on in virtual perpetuity. Sometimes I feel like I'm watching the Crusades all over again, and I have to say Onward Christian Soldiers is not high on my playlist. Of course, I wish I'd written it; I could use the royalties. (I'm kidding, y'all.)
One of the joys of my life has been playing with the wonderful Emmylou Harris. Summer 2009, I sent a few songs to her. One was an Á capella piece I'd written with Cindy Morgan, titled "My Ransom", and the other was something I'd written with Merrill Farnsworth, titled "Savior's Kiss", a melancholy song about human brokeness.
My letter simply asked, "Would you be interested in being part of a recording which focuses on the Love of God?"
Like me, Emmy was tired of the vitriol spewed by so many people of faith, in the wake of Barrack Obama's election. Watching the campaign by satellite TV on our tour bus, we recoiled at the religious posturing, and I hung my head often, at the ridiculous things asserted by people of my faith.
Emmylou is not particularly religious. But when the language of faith is loving and poetic, and when Jesus is allowed to stand without the props of exclusivity, not as a dashboard statuette, but as an open-armed lover of souls, one need not be religious to find Him appealing.
"Yes", she said.
And so I began a labor of love, which is still in progress, unraveling before my eyes like an orange peel, in one beautiful piece, spiraling heavenward.
Emmylou joined drummer Bryan Owings, bassist Chris Donohue, guitarist Pat Bergeson, myself, and engineer Todd Robbins at a small Franklin studio called "The Workshop" where we casually played through her song "I Didn't Know It Was You". The song is one of her finest pieces, right up there with "The Pearl" and "Red Dirt Girl", and I'm so pleased that she brought it to this project. It didn't take long to find the magic, and I know that everyone enjoyed playing to her guitar strumming and that beautiful voice. After some harmonies and an additional guitar part, the track will be ready to mix.
I like my life.
Besides the Emmylou track, I've produced a song on the fabulous duo The Civil Wars called "From This Valley". I'm in the process of inviting this artist and that, and trying to mix it up a bit, and the response has been beautifully positive from people of varied spiritual and social backgrounds, from Buddhist to Jewish, hillbilly to hipster.
This project has been the spark for writing this blog. Perhaps I'll just write about life, whether music has anything to do with it or not.
Who am I kidding? Music is always with us. Just listen.