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Welcome to the Rock Desk, where Seattle Times rock critic Patrick MacDonald fills you in on the latest news, upcoming concerts, news releases and insider info on the rock 'n' roll beat. Music critic Tom Scanlon also contributes local music and club news.

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March 15, 2007 10:43 AM

Ever-loving Emmylou

Posted by Patrick MacDonald

Emmylou Harris talked about her fateful meeting with Gram Parsons when she was a young waitress, more than 35 years ago, at a SXSW appearance this morning, and told how the death of the gifted singer/songwriter/musician inspired her masterpiece of grief, "Boulder to Birmingham."
She then sang the moving song, accompanied by guitarist Buddy Miller, and the big crowd gave her a standing ovation.
"I was a bad waitress," Harris recalled, "I was very clumsy."
But she was a single mother who needed the job, and it led her to meet Parsons, who helped her become a better musician, singer, performer, and parent.
"Everything depended on him," she said. "One day he was alive and the next day he was dead."
But, she quickly added, "it was not an affair; we we're friends." Parsons' widow and family never believed that, however, and she said that has added to the grief on both sides.
Her singing was the best part of the event, because the interview portion was conducted by a fawning Jonathan Demme, who is a much better movie director than he is an interviewer.
After Harris sang "Love Hurts," Demme suggested she change the line "I'm young, I know" to "I'm old," because Harris turns 60 this year. He dwelled on it to the point where Harris, who is singing, writing and playing better than ever, cracked "I'm not decrepit!"

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