Emmylou Harris "Wrecking Ball": C/D?

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Lanois meets his match in Emmylou and they create an American classic. The all-star cast includes Larry Mullen Jr, Neil Young, The McGarringle Sisters, Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams and they feature in some of their most subtle supporting roles. I've never met anyone that doesn't rate this. Have you?

vmajestic, Monday, 26 August 2013 13:07 (five years ago) Permalink

From some previous discussions, I think there are probably plenty of people on ILM who don't like it. But I do. Great selection of songs, for one thing.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Monday, 26 August 2013 13:21 (five years ago) Permalink

So fucking classic, one of my favorite albums of all time. Love how so often the songwriters guest on the interpretations. Earle's "Goodbye" is amazing, Neil's "Wrecking Ball" is incredible, Lanois's "Where Will I Be" is beautiful Don't like how it defined her next several solo albums, but this one is wonderful. Genius for covering Gillian Welch before her first album came out. Genius for covering "Goodbye" more or less the same time (certainly the same year) Earle's version came out; Emmy was one of the few (only?) to support him when he got out of prison.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 26 August 2013 19:03 (five years ago) Permalink

love this album. one of lanois' best efforts, i think. obviously he puts his stamp on it, but doesn't overwhelm.

tylerw, Monday, 26 August 2013 19:13 (five years ago) Permalink

classic. i think the watery imbalance of lanois' production matches with emmylou's voice perfectly, where i could take or leave his touch on pretty much every other record he's produced

emo canon in twee major (BradNelson), Monday, 26 August 2013 19:18 (five years ago) Permalink

Love it, and yeah, she's essentially been remaking it over and over again for over 15 years now, but I actually like Red Dirt Girl nearly as much. Hell, the album even survives an appearance by Dave Matthews!

the vineyards where the grapes of corporate rock are stored (cryptosicko), Monday, 26 August 2013 19:19 (five years ago) Permalink

I mean, jesus christ, the vocals and drums on this alone:


Lanois sort of discovered Blade - he heard him playing in a church near his studio in New Orleans - and it's been an amazingly fruitful friendship. The duo shows I've seen the two do ...

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 26 August 2013 19:40 (five years ago) Permalink

I was once on a Country message board and a bunch of people seemed to think that the idea that WB was terrible and the beginning of Harris' "decline" was a universally agreed upon thing. I left that board pretty quickly.

President Keyes, Monday, 26 August 2013 19:40 (five years ago) Permalink

"where will i be" straight up makes me cry

emo canon in twee major (BradNelson), Monday, 26 August 2013 20:07 (five years ago) Permalink

One of the great albums of my lifetime.

Or, as I tried to put it earlier in my lifetime: http://www.furia.com/page.cgi?type=twas&id=twas0038#entry1

glenn mcdonald, Monday, 26 August 2013 20:19 (five years ago) Permalink

One of my favorite 5-to-10 albums, too.

I saw her perform in Minneapolis right (with the band introduced as Spyboyp) around the time this was released. Electric.

The Bridges of Witchy Woman (Eazy), Monday, 26 August 2013 20:58 (five years ago) Permalink

While we are singing the praises, I also want to give a shout to whomever designed the album cover. Looks just like the music.

that's not my post, Tuesday, 27 August 2013 04:17 (five years ago) Permalink

An amazing collection of deeply moving songs, nearly ruined by Lanois' compressed digital gauze.

Shart Week (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 27 August 2013 04:22 (five years ago) Permalink

Despite the fact that Lanois' sonic thumbprint looms large as per usual, I love that it's still so clearly Emmylou that's being showcased under the glass dome of immaculate song selection and deeply sympathetic playing and arrangements. There is a perfect disparity between the glowing instrumental stew and her controlled crystalline tones. Not only is it one of his finest hours, but it also marked a career resurgence for her and paved the way for a well-deserved second act.

vmajestic, Tuesday, 27 August 2013 05:36 (five years ago) Permalink

And to give Lanois a little more due, he wrote one of my favorite songs on it.


something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Tuesday, 27 August 2013 06:05 (five years ago) Permalink

Lanois also wrote "Where Will I Be".

vmajestic, Tuesday, 27 August 2013 06:13 (five years ago) Permalink

So I noted upthread.

For the curious:


Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 27 August 2013 12:03 (five years ago) Permalink

Also of interest:


vmajestic, Tuesday, 27 August 2013 14:02 (five years ago) Permalink

If it weren't for Lanois, this would be one of my favorite albums. As it is, I find the production suffocating. A collection of brilliant songs that I never, ever come back to.

kaleb, Tuesday, 27 August 2013 17:52 (five years ago) Permalink

I definitely see why people would be put off by the Lanois production on this, but I love it. Loved the selection of songs on this, and thought her performance was amazing throughout. At the very least, it's what got me more interested in Emmylou, to the point where I started trawling he back catalogue and hooked me for the subsequent releases.

Sean Carruthers, Tuesday, 27 August 2013 22:10 (five years ago) Permalink

dear thread:

thank you for introducing me to this album, I just listened to Where I Will Be about fifty times in a row. sux that the only vinyl pressing of it ever is waaaaaay out of print but w/e, I'll track one down someday.

signed, James Cobo

a duiving caTCH, a stuolllen bayeeeess (jamescobo), Wednesday, 28 August 2013 05:50 (five years ago) Permalink

I never get tired of this album. It's fascinating to hear Emmylou singing with such raw emotion.

banjoboy, Wednesday, 28 August 2013 07:02 (five years ago) Permalink

she's essentially been remaking it over and over again for over 15 years now

That was true for "Red Dirt Girl" (which is a good album though not as otherworldly as "Wrecking Ball"). But is it really true for anything after RDG? I didn't really pay much attention after that, what's worth checking out?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 28 August 2013 14:20 (five years ago) Permalink

Being that Lanois is primarily responsible for that otherworldly quality which arguably makes this record so unique and special, I find it interesting that some people are bristling against his involvement, despite loving it otherwise?

vmajestic, Wednesday, 28 August 2013 16:51 (five years ago) Permalink

Also ironic that Lanois's tools of the trade are generally more organic, more analog, than many other sonic gloop masters. He's the king of the right players in the right room with the right mics and amps, bar the odd delay effect or two. Like Neil Young, he's really into overdriving the amps to get cool effects.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 28 August 2013 18:00 (five years ago) Permalink

But is it really true for anything after RDG? I didn't really pay much attention after that, what's worth checking out?

The one I like a lot is All The Roadrunning, the duet album with Mark Knopfler. The rest, not so much.

The Bridges of Witchy Woman (Eazy), Wednesday, 28 August 2013 18:55 (five years ago) Permalink

Also, Willie Nelson's Teatro feels like Wrecking Ball II, with Lanois producing and Emmylou featured.

The Bridges of Witchy Woman (Eazy), Wednesday, 28 August 2013 18:57 (five years ago) Permalink

i should listen to Teatro again -- i thought it was all wrong for Willie when it came out, but maybe I'd dig it more now...

tylerw, Wednesday, 28 August 2013 19:05 (five years ago) Permalink

I dig "I Never Cared For You" and "Darkness On The Face Of The Earth" a lot, but haven't returned to the rest of the album since I first heard it.

kaleb, Wednesday, 28 August 2013 19:48 (five years ago) Permalink

I didn't like "Teatro." It felt waaaaaay too much like Willie going for the same thing, but WIllie is so much his own thing he doesn't need that. I didn't see him play Farm Aid with Lanois and two Cuban drummers, though.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 28 August 2013 19:55 (five years ago) Permalink

that Farm Aid set was dope

was a weird day, with Mellencamp & the rapper during Jack and Diane, and Phish and Neil Young, and Woody Harrelson in a suit made out of weed, and Brian Wilson

Euler, Wednesday, 28 August 2013 21:50 (five years ago) Permalink

lol that all sounds pretty magical

tylerw, Wednesday, 28 August 2013 22:11 (five years ago) Permalink

it was great! plus Hootie.

Euler, Wednesday, 28 August 2013 22:18 (five years ago) Permalink

when will lanois produce a hootie album... achtung hootie.

tylerw, Wednesday, 28 August 2013 22:21 (five years ago) Permalink

I forgot all about Hootie! I remember thinking, hey, I'm going to keep an open mind, but Hootie was soooooo boring.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 28 August 2013 22:52 (five years ago) Permalink

is there any licensing fuckery that would prevent Wrecking Ball from getting reissued? every copy listed on popsike has gone for over $150, usually WAY over.

a duiving caTCH, a stuolllen bayeeeess (jamescobo), Thursday, 29 August 2013 00:33 (five years ago) Permalink

I don't understand, you can get it used for a penny on Amazon.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 29 August 2013 01:59 (five years ago) Permalink


Badmotorfinger Debate Club (MFB), Thursday, 29 August 2013 02:12 (five years ago) Permalink

gonna assume that not many copies of this were printed on vinyl -- 1995 was probably a low point in major labels even putting albums out at all on vinyl.

tylerw, Thursday, 29 August 2013 15:05 (five years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Getting back to Teatro for a sec, I could never get into it despite how badly I wanted to. Was actually hoping for Wrecking Ball II, but what I found was big on atmosphere and low on actual songs. The song selection on Wrecking Ball, on the other hand, is flawless.

vmajestic, Friday, 13 September 2013 21:00 (five years ago) Permalink


Josh in Chicago, Friday, 13 September 2013 21:50 (five years ago) Permalink

I honestly don't really remember Teatro, I set it aside before anything sank in and never went back to it. But yeah, the songs on Wrecking Ball would have made for a great Emmylou album no matter how she recorded it. The production made it into something else again, but the foundation is solid to start with.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Friday, 13 September 2013 23:15 (five years ago) Permalink

Getting back to /Teatro/ for a sec, I could never get into it despite how badly I wanted to. Was actually hoping for /Wrecking Ball II/, but what I found was big on atmosphere and low on actual songs. The song selection on /Wrecking Ball/, on the other hand, is flawless.

Teatro is all about the back cover pic. Willie looks like he has absolutely no idea what's going on.

Naive Teen Idol, Sunday, 15 September 2013 05:46 (five years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

I picked up the Modern Classics reissue of Teatro today and it is quite beautiful; I've had it on tape since around the time this thread introduced me to Wrecking Ball but it's never sounded this rich before.

grinding like a jolly elf (jamescobo), Sunday, 19 April 2015 00:03 (three years ago) Permalink

jesus goddamn christ

grinding like a jolly elf (jamescobo), Sunday, 19 April 2015 00:52 (three years ago) Permalink

Discogs stats for the Grapevine vinyl:

Have: 38
Want: 263
Avg Rating: 4.8 / 5
Ratings: 10

Last Sold: 30 Dec 14
Lowest: $92.82
Median: $167.49
Highest: $216.10

Johnny Fever, Sunday, 19 April 2015 01:00 (three years ago) Permalink

that's absurd. surely this has been reissued?

akm, Monday, 20 April 2015 14:51 (three years ago) Permalink

I think that original UK vinyl release is the only time this album's ever been on vinyl, so it's understandably rare. Still, those prices are bonkers.

Johnny Fever, Monday, 20 April 2015 15:02 (three years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

She played "Pilgrim" on Colbert and it reminded me how classic she is

Week of Wonders (Ross), Monday, 24 July 2017 07:32 (one year ago) Permalink

three months pass...

Hearing the demos for this for the first time ever - even though its one of my all-time favorite albums, and am astonished. As good as the finished album, if not better.


... (Eazy), Friday, 17 November 2017 20:33 (one year ago) Permalink

nice. this whole album has climbed up into my top 50 all time ranks pretty rapidly

Spottie, Saturday, 18 November 2017 01:25 (one year ago) Permalink

That's from the expanded reissue, right? The bonus disc material is great, indeed, and quite revealing.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Saturday, 18 November 2017 03:02 (one year ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Finally picked up the reissue on vinyl - can’t think what took me so long to buy it for $60 when I’d have snapped up the no doubt inferior sounding original for twice that if I ever spotted it in the wild - & immersed myself in it last night. Christ, i’d forgotten how fucking deep this record is. Wept like a baby through half of it: how that steel guitar sings like a church organ while EH is transformed by the magic of folk music: “and if you were Willie Moore and I was Barbara Allen - or Fair Ellender, all sad at the cabin door, weepin’ and a-pinin’ for love” - “Sweet Old World” - “Blackhawk” - & that numinous take on “Every Grain of Sand”, where she turns Dylan’s bitterness into something humble and human - honestly one of the best records ever made, I think. The only tune that left me cold at all - strangely, because I recall it fondly - was “Orphan Girl”, which came across as kind of rote or predetermined or something - never transcended its setting, & I don’t feel like Emmylou brought as much emotion to her reading of it as Gillian Welch later did to hers. A super-important track though, historically, because Welch/Rawlings probably wouldn’t have had anything like the career they did if that song hadn’t been on this record.

I like the first two sides of outtakes too, mostly - the unproduced take of “Where Will I Be” is a highlight, and it was great to hear her do “Still Water”, though I don’t think she quite caught the magic that Lanois’ own version did. “Stranger Song” was good. The Richard Thompson number was pretty unremarkable.

Now I have to track down a copy of that documentary - you mean I’m gonna have to buy this album AGAIN? - it was released with the CD version of the rerelease.

bumbling my way toward the light or wahtever (hardcore dilettante), Sunday, 31 December 2017 06:18 (eleven months ago) Permalink

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