Emmylou Harris

Pitchfork: You’ve been associated with a lot of very inspired but also very hard living guys. How have you managed to move in the same circles as people like Gram Parsons and Steve Earle and survive?
EH: Well, Steve Earle wasn’t hard living by the time we started working together! [laughs] I was only around Gram for a very, very brief period of time. I was pretty much the country mouse. When I was around Gram, he really trying to straighten up. We spent most of our time singing, and you can’t get all screwed up and sing. So the time we spent together was a pretty healthy time. I wish I could have spent more time around him. Maybe I could have helped him a little bit. But there’s no point in looking back.
Pitchfork: It’s amazing that after 30 years of making music yourself, someone who just recorded a couple of albums is still so often talked about in the same breath as your own name.
EH: Well, Gram was a visionary. There are not that many people who come along and come up with something totally different. Of course, being totally honest, people probably spend a little too much time focusing on the dramatic story of his life, including, unfortunately, an early death. A rock and roll casualty. Perhaps people don’t give as much credit to his music and his vision. A lot of times that stuff will supersede someone’s work, and I think that happened a lot with Gram. I think musicians– I’m the poster child for how one person can affect another. With Gram, I don’t think anybody would be interested in talking to me if I hadn’t met Gram and been inspired by him, and continued down the road he set out for me. I don’t think I would have come up with this stuff on my own.
Pitchfork: That’s a very modest way to look at it…
EG: But I think it’s true. I have a pretty good sense of my life, who I was and what I knew, and how different things were after he came into my life. I think there are people that you have those kind of big bang moments with in your life story, and that certainly was for me. It’s almost like B.C. and A.D.