September 26: Emmylou Harris released Wrecking Ball in 1995

wrecking ball

“Wrecking Ball is a leftfield masterpiece, the most wide-ranging, innovative, and daring record in a career built on such notions. Rich in atmosphere and haunting in its dark complexity…The fixed point remains Harris’ voice, which leaps into each and every one of these diverse compositions — culled from the pens of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Earle, and others — with utter fearlessness, as if this were the album she’d been waiting her entire life to make. Maybe it is.”
– Jason Ankeny (Allmusic)

Wrecking Ball is the eighteenth studio album by Emmylou Harris, released on September 26, 1995 throughElektra Records. Moving away from the traditional acoustic sound for which she had become known, Harris collaborated with rock producer Daniel Lanois and engineer Mark Howard. The album has been noted for atmospheric feel, and featured guest performances by Steve Earle, Larry Mullen, Jr., Lucinda Williams and Neil Young, who wrote the title song.

I saw Emmylou Harris live for the first time this summer, it made me go back and listen to all her albums again, with added interest and new-found love of her music. Not that I had ever lost it, but it felt fresh and deeper after the show in Oslo.

Wrecking Ball is my favourite Harris album, and I rank it among the 30 best albums ever made.

Emmylou Harris talks about Sweet Old World and sings the song with Neil Young:

Though her choice of songs had always been eclectic, the album was regarded as a departure for Harris who, by the age of 48, had become something of an elder stateswoman in country music. It received almost universally positive reviews, making many critics’ year-end “best of” lists, and pointed Harris’ career in a somewhat different direction, where she would incorporate a harder, albeit plaintive edge that would single her out from the complacent, country music mainstream. As a career-redefining album, Wrecking Ball was likened to Marianne Faithfull’s 1979 Broken English album and Johnny Cash’s later American Recordings. Wrecking Ball won the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Recording.

Emmylou Harris – Wrecking Ball (live, 1996, w/Daniel Lanois):

Track listing (original release):
1. “Where Will I Be?” [with Daniel Lanois] (Daniel Lanois) – 4:15
2. “Goodbye” (Steve Earle) – 4:53
3. “All My Tears” (Julie Miller) – 3:42
4. “Wrecking Ball” (Neil Young) – 4:49
5. “Goin’ Back to Harlan” (Anna McGarrigle) – 4:51
6. “Deeper Well” (David Olney, Lanois, Emmylou Harris) – 4:19
7. “Every Grain of Sand” (Bob Dylan) – 3:56
8. “Sweet Old World” (Lucinda Williams) – 5:06
9. “May This Be Love” [with Daniel Lanois] (Jimi Hendrix) – 4:45
10. “Orphan Girl” (Gillian Welch) – 3:15
11. “Blackhawk” (Daniel Lanois) – 4:28
12. “Waltz Across Texas Tonight” (Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris) – 4:46

Emmylou Harris- Deeper Well (my favourite track from Wrecking Ball):

Personnel:
Emmylou Harris – vocals, acoustic guitar on 3 5 7 10 11 12, harmony vocals on 10
Daniel Lanois – mandolin on 1 2 3 5 8 10 11 12, electric guitar on 1 2 3 4 6 8 9 11 12, acoustic guitar on 2 7 11, bass on 1 3, dulcimer on 10, duet vocals on 1 9, chant vocals on 3, percussion on 4, bass pedals on 8
Malcolm Burn – piano on 2 4 8 11 12, tambourine on 4 10 11, vibes on 4, organ on 5 7, synthesizer on 5, keyboards on 6, slide guitar on 8 12, bass on 11, drums on 11, harmony vocals on 11
Larry Mullen, Jr. – drums on 2 4 6 7 8 9 12, cymbal on 4, hand drum on 10
Tony Hall – percussion, bass on 2 4 6 7 12, stick drum on 10
Daryl Johnson – high harmony vocals on 1, tom tom on 1, drum kit bass pedals on 5, backing vocals on 5, harmonic bass on 6, harmony vocals on 10

Additional personnel:
Brian Blade – drums on 1, Indian hand drum on 5
Steve Earle – acoustic guitar on 2 7 8
Sam O’Sullivan – roto wheel on 4
Neil Young – harmony vocals on 4 8, harmonica on 8
Kufaru Mouton – extro percussion on 5
Lucinda Williams – acoustic guitar on 8
Richard Bennett – tremolo guitar on 8
Anna McGarrigle – harmony vocals on 12
Kate McGarrigle – harmony vocals on 12

Emmylou Harris – Wrecking Ball (deluxe edition)(Spotify):

– Hallgeir

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