Emmylou Harris on Contemporary Country Music: ‘I Never Listen to It’
Emmylou Harris has successfully carved out a legendary country music career for herself over the years, and her music is loved by both older and younger generations. But you probably won't catch her listening to country music's contemporary artists; she knows what she likes, and she's sticking to it.
When asked if she listens to modern country music, Harris admits to Radio.com, "No, I never listen to it, I have to be honest. Unless it’s by accident. When I do hear it by accident, it doesn’t relate to me at all, for the most part."
Harris concedes that there are some exceptions, and the names that she drops are predominantly female.
"I like Miranda [Lambert] because she’s a dog person," says Harris, calling the country star "a little firecracker."
"I know that there’s a lot of great gals out there," Harris continues. "Who’s the gal that did Same Trailer, Different Park?"
When supplied with Kacey Musgraves' name, Harris goes on to reflect, "She’s great, and I do like Ashley Monroe‘s "Like a Rose." Beautiful song. Beautiful song! So they do pop up in the cracks of the sidewalk every once in a while."
Even though Harris readily admits that she isn't a huge listener of today's newest and biggest country hitmakers, she's also clear that she doesn't want to pigeonhole country music as having one specific sound.
"I don’t want to be the person who says, 'Country music has to be like this, and it can never change!'" she reflects. "I came in [to country music], and I think I had something to do with changing it; Rodney [Crowell] did, too. Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt all changed things in a subtle way. Or maybe a bigger way.
"But it took a strange turn at some point," Harris adds. "And maybe it’s when it got really popular, I don’t know. To where it doesn’t seem to be, as a friend of mine would have called it, 'washed in the blood.'"
Harris also adds some feisty words to her commentary about today's contemporary country artists.
"They worry about having a hit and [are] lowering the bar lyrically," she says. "Guys singing about 'Drive my tractor,' and they probably can’t even drive a manual transmission car! Which I do, by the way."
Harris is currently promoting The Traveling Kind, her new album with Crowell, who cites Sturgill Simpson as "great." Harris and Crowell's new record came out in May and features 11 tracks. In addition, Harris is also working on a new Trio album with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt, featuring previous recordings of the women.
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