30 June 2008

".... Some fools fool themselves I guess, But they're not foolin' me ...."

"Love Hurts" (-- Felice and Boudleaux Bryant),
from Gram Parsons with Emmylou Harris, Grievous Angel (1973);
also included on Emmylou Harris' retrospective Heartaches & Highways (2005)

Discussing this song, the All Music Guide notes, ".... As a vocal duo, Parsons and Emmylou Harris only improved on this set ["Grievous Angel" album], turning in a version of "Love Hurts" so quietly impassioned and delicately beautiful that it's enough to make you forget Roy Orbison ever recorded it. ..."

That's a good assessment, but what follows is a great one. One of my collaborators, who wishes to remain anonymous, reacted the same way I did the first time she heard this Parsons / Harris cut:
First, this version is infinitely better than the one I know from the radio. Why don’t they play this instead? I had never heard this version, and it’s absolutely beautiful.
The version I know (Nazareth?) is maudlin compared with this—wailing instead of telling the story from the heart. [Editor's note: "... (Nazareth?) ...." -- correct; also covered by "Incubus": both heavy metal bands doing this number as a "power ballad".]

This version is much more tender, which softens the message “love hurts” and makes it not a complaint but a wise acceptance of the risks of love. Emmylou’s singing adds something especially delicate; I just wish her voice were a bit louder in the mix.
It starts out beautifully—I loved it instantly—but then it gets even better. The phrase “Love is like a cloud: holds a lot of rain” is almost unbearably beautiful. Emmylou’s intonation is spot on.
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You can check out "Love Hurts," performed by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, on my jukebox in the left column here.

1 comment:

owen said...

Dick McNeer died here in Winter Haven a few weeks ago..and the locals who grew up with Gram and those guys all got together at Dickies house and had
a memorial party.

I did the 'outskirts' thing..There is a mean video of Dickie singing Radar Love at Ol Man Frank's though...

(Dick was Gram's drummer a thousand years ago)