Dear First Ladies of Country,
I grew up listening to you and number you among my hearth goddesses.
For some reason or other, as well as having music from the folk revival in their collection, my mum and dad are very fond of country and bluegrass. It's probably to do with it being acoustic and preoccupied with love and loss - the staples. My mum and dad are both sentimental old things.
As a result you became part of my musical hinterland, irretrievably embedded in my life, and I love you both for it.
Dolly, I remember when I was barely big enough to see out of the windows, sliding around on the leather back seat of my uncle's Jaguar with my sister and cousin as he went round corners at speed to amuse us, while playing Jolene at enormous volume on his stereo. Not something I'd ever do at the wheel myself these days (they've changed the law on seat belts over here for a start) but it was great fun and we were in a part of the world - Norfolk, UK - where there wasn't much traffic.
And Emmylou, I remember seeing your beautiful face on Bob Harris's Old Grey Whistle Test and thinking, childishly, that you looked like the Queen of America. I later went on to study politics at college, so now realise what was wrong with that particular construction. But if there were any justice I still maintain that you would be.
This post is my tribute to you. More impressively, it contains Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker's tribute to you - Homemade Heartache. This summer in the UK has been a bit of a washout, which is British understatement. But before the skies opened there was a brief blaze of brilliance on Clerkenwell Green in central London, when these two played in the sunshine on an early May evening and said that they'd written this delicately wrought thing for you.
I thought I'd pass it along, in the hope that you'd like it, and also because Josienne and Ben are among the best and hardest working musicians I know and could, frankly, do with some luck. It's a country song made in London, which is probably not unique but does make it at least a little bit special.
All my love
* If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy this, which is an interview with The Civil Wars.
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