Emmylou Harris (from the album The Ballad of Sally Rose (Expanded Edition) available from Rhino/Warner Brothers Records)
The Expanded Edition of The Ballad of Sally Rose gathers demo recordings to add to the original 1985 Emmylou Harris release. Recorded in Nashville between April 1983 and April 1984, deep harmonies and simple guitar strums back the demo side of the Rhino Records releases. The Ballad of Sally Rose was a major turning point, and risk, in the career of Emmylou Harris. On her previous eleven releases, she had gotten only three self-penned songs included on the track listing, becoming known for her interpretations of the work of other musicians rather than her songwriting. Emmylou, along with Paul Kennerly, can claim credits on all the tunes included on The Ballad of Sally Rose, Paul joining a pair of other influencers that inspired the recording. Flame-starter and carrier, Phil Kaufman, The Road Mangler, longtime friend and tour manager of Emmylou, gave her the name that became a muse for album, introducing her to a late night Rapid City bar patron as Sally Rose. Her decision to step away from her producer for previous releases and back the tracks with a different sound was supported by Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou hearing a like-mind in the characters of his release Nebraska.
The theme for the album was loosely based on Emmylou Harris and her short-time spent with Gram Parsons and long-range effect the chance meeting had on her life. The Ballad of Sally Rose introduces its lead character in the opening cut, the album title track, giving the backstory a first scene taking place in the ‘Black Hills of Dakota, washed in the blood of the dying Sioux nation’. A young girl picks up a guitar, playing gigs until she headlines the show in “Rhythm Guitar”, riding a career rocket trajectory, following “White Lines”, holding tight to love as fame grows in “Heart to Heart”, recalling a special night under Shenandoah moon in “Timberline”, coming in through radio waves of “K-S-O-S”, and wearing the crown of “Sweetheart of the Radio”. Time has treated the work of Emmylou Harris on The Ballad of Sally Rose well, the music an easy fit for an Americana and Roots music audience, delivering “Bad News” on a rock’n’roll country beat and making a clear mark in the sand for female empowerment as “Woman Walk the Line” heads out for a night on the town.
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