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.
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)