No one can give you the aching feeling of sadness and loneliness quite like Emmylou Harris songs. Her pearly vocals, combined with her gift for interpretation, have blessed the country radio and our playlists since bursting onto the music scene fifty years ago.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Harris earned a drama scholarship to the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she started studying music seriously and learning how to play the guitar. Eventually, Emmylou Harris left school and moved to New York City to pursue her musical aspirations. She even worked as a waitress to support herself as she performed in local coffee houses.
Finally, she met country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons, who asked her to join his band, the Fallen Angels. When Parsons died, Harris continued what her mentor had started and formed the Angel Band. She went on recording and releasing her solo major-label debut, and the rest was history.
Today, we’re going to take a look at some of her best hits! Keep on scrolling below, and you might find your favorite.
1. Together Again
The song was best known as the B-side to Buck Owens’ No. 1 hit, “My Heart Skips a Beat.” Harris recorded it in 1975 and brought it to the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Four years later, Owens and Harris teamed up on a song called “Play Together Again, Again,” – paying tribute to “Together Again.”
2. Bang The Drum Slowly
Harris enlisted the help of singer-songwriter Guy Clark to write “Bang The Drum Slow” as the elegy for her father, who passed away in 1993. Harris had a great level of difficulty dealing with his father’s death that she thought something like that was so important to be written.
3. Boulder to Birmingham
While Harris may not have several songwriting credits early in her career, the songs she wrote were powerful. Including this mournful tune, which she co-wrote with Bill Danoff.
“Boulder to Birmingham” was written after Gram Parsons’ death. It has since become a source of comfort for several country fans who could relate to its sentiment.
4. Red Dirt Girl
Harris has once again showed off her potent songwriting skills in this poignant track that tells the story of a woman with big dreams who has difficulty escaping family tragedy or her roots. It was released as the title track of her 2000 album, which earned a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
5. Sweet Dreams
Written by Don Gibson, “Sweet Dreams” has become a country standard. It was covered by several notable artists, including Faron Young, Patsy Cline, Reba McEntire, and of course, Harris. Her version had the most success on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, where it reached No. 1.
6. Two More Bottles of Wine
Harris finds herself moving with her lover to Los Angeles – nearly 2,000 miles away from her home – only to be abruptly left by him. She’s left fending for herself, working in a tedious job, but she knows everything will be alright as she still has “two more bottles of wine.”
7. Easy From Now On
There are plenty of songs written about leaving a no-good man behind, but “Easy From Now On” truly stands out. In the song, Harris laid her heartache down. She knows that she’s vulnerable and it will take some time to get over him, but she’s about to fill her empty heart.
8. Lonely Girl
Ever since she was divorced in 1993, Harris has remained unmarried – and she sings about a woman still yearning for someone else in “Lonely Girl.” Though Harris explained that the song does not necessarily mean she’s feeling lonely, saying she’s having “a wonderful life filled with family, friends, dogs, and children.”
9. Blue Kentucky Girl
The song was originally released by country legend Loretta Lynn in 1965. More than a decade later, Harris released her version, where she earned a nomination for the Best Country Song during the 1980 Grammy Award.
10. Beneath Still Waters
George Jones recorded the song in 1968, but it failed to chart. Even the biggest fans of Jones might not even know such an underrated gem until Harris brought “Beneath Still Waters” out to the public in 1980 when she scored No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
More of Emmylou Harris Songs That You Need To Be Listening Right Now
Truly, there’s only one Emmylou Harris. Check out some more of her songs below.
So, did you find your favorite Emmylou Harris songs?