5 Things You May Not Have Known About Emmylou Harris’s ELITE HOTEL
This month marks the 45th anniversary of Emmylou Harris’s third studio album, an LP which – although it was actually the second one she released in 1975 – was her first to climb to the top of the Billboard Country Albums chart. To commemorate the occasion of this very important record’s release, we’ve put together a list of five things you may or may not have known about it.
- Emmylou’s cover of "Together Again" led to a collaboration with the man who wrote it.
Harris’s decision to cover this Buck Owens’ tune led to a couple of surprising results, the first of which was the song’s ascent to the top of the Billboard Country Singles chart. In 1979, however, Owens recorded a song which paid tribute to Harris’s success – "Play Together Again, Again" – and asked her to duet on the tune with him, an offer which she happily accepted.
- One of the first songs Rodney Crowell ever played for Emmylou was the song she recorded on ELITE HOTEL.
"It stunned me that someone that young could write something that sounds like it was from the ages," Harris told The Guardian in 2018. "Rodney can be very poetic, and [his work] fed into my folk sensibilities and country sensibilities. ‘Till I Gain Control Again’ is made of pure, simple imagery, which are the hardest songs to write. That’s what is brilliant about the classic country songs: you can’t get too wordy."
- When Emmylou and Rodney recorded OLD YELLOW MOON together in 2013, they fulfilled a prediction they made in the ‘70s.
When discussing the album in 2014, Harris said, "We’ve always said from the first time we sat down with two guitars and our two lead voices, sitting on the floor of the studio and singing Don Gibson songs, just messing around, that we would do a record together someday." Well, it was circa the recording of ELITE HOTEL that they did that, and it’s probably no coincidence that ELITE HOTEL happens to feature a Gibson cover: "Sweet Dreams."
- Emmylou wondered if she was betraying her desire to be a real country artist by covering the Beatles’ "Here, There and Everywhere."
"There were murmurings from country purists, and I started to wonder: 'Am I being true to Gram [Parsons]? Is this what I set out to do?'" she recalled in an interview with Uncut. "I wanted to be a country artist. But I was being true to who I was, greatly influenced by The Beatles and Dylan. I was a child of my generation who'd discovered country, which became the Big Bang for me, but all these other elements were still swirling around in there. So the eclecticism of those early records was very real for me as I was finding my voice. I needed to do that to get to the point where I could narrow my parameters." Perpetually cited in people's lists of their list of the 30 best Beatles covers of all time, the website AntiQuiet.com described Harris's "graceful" take on "Here, There and Everywhere" to be "perhaps be closest to what McCartney had in mind when he originally wrote the track."
- She got so pissed off that Esquire did a feature on her but didn’t mention her band – The Hot Band – that she took out an ad in a trade publication to chastise the magazine.
Harris’s famed Hot Band, which backs her on ELITE HOTEL, consisted of James Burton on guitar, Glen D. Hardin on piano, Emory Gordy Jr. on bass, Hank DeVito on steel guitar and John Ware on drums. The fact that Esquire would shine a spotlight on her work and not mention the boys who were as responsible for her success as she was... Well, she clearly wasn’t going to put up with that!
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