"Old Yellow Moon" not only brings the two respected singers and songwriters together for a full album worth of duets, it reunites them with many of the musicians with whom both got their critically lauded careers off the ground nearly four decades ago.
They talked about how Harris' fabled group, the Hot Band, came together when we met over lunch while both were in town in February for the Grammy Awards.
"At that point I had the original Angel Band — not the later one with Vince [Gill] — but we were thinking about putting together a hotter band," Harris recalled. "At one point it was just me and Rodney, two lead singers and two rhythm guitar players, sitting on the floor working up things like 'Sweet Dreams' and all these country songs."
They'd gotten commitments for that new band from several stellar musicians, including pianist Glen D. Hardin, guitarist James Burton and bassist Emory Gordy.
"But they were all out [on tour] with Elvis [Presley], so we couldn't rehearse," she said. "And we were doing these auditions with terrible drummers. There's no other way to describe it."
Crowell winced briefly, saying, "You better not print that; they may still live around here."
But Harris wouldn't let it go: "Well, they need to know they were bad," she said with a laugh. "They couldn't play country music — they probably were good. But John Ware was rehearsing with the Bellamy Brothers and one day he came in with a cape: Drummer Man to save the day."
They also landed steel guitarist Hank DeVito, in part because of his association with Linda Ronstadt, who was riding high at the time with her L.A.-based country-rock sessions.
"Linda is a big part of my story, she really is," Harris said. "She was such a champion. She's one of the reasons I got a record contract."
"It just happens that we put that band together and we had maybe one day of rehearsal…. Me and Rodney and Hank did as much as we could do, then the big guns came in and we rehearsed for maybe a couple of days, went up and played the Boarding House in San Francsico and the rest is history.
"There was something really magic about it," she said. "Anyway, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it."
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