Emmylou Harris

Last Date

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Unlike most recording artists, whose profit-taking live albums simply repeat their best-known material, Emmylou Harris approached her first concert album Last Date as her next regular release, including only songs she had not previously recorded. This meant that Last Date was another in Harris' series of tasteful song selections mixing covers of traditional country fare with country-styled interpretations of pop songs. One exception to the usual bill of fare was that there were no newly written songs. In their place, Harris harked back to her legendary association with country-pop singer/songwriter Gram Parsons, using former Parsons associate Barry Tashian in his place on four Parsons-related numbers. Beyond her commitment to Parsons, Harris seemed determined to present a catholic interpretation of country music, embracing the Nashville sound and acknowledging the Bakersfield sound, looking to traditional country, trying out rockabilly, and reviving the Everly Brothers' country-pop sound. The choices underscored Harris' position as a student of country music earnestly reproducing all of its forms, rather than an adherent of any particular contemporary school, and this was reinforced by her usual sprinkling of pop material. Though Last Date was in many ways a typical Harris disc, the added excitement of playing the material live with the Hot Band gave the album extra kick. Like its predecessor Cimarron, Last Date reached the country Top Ten and the Top 100 of the pop charts, but did not sell well enough to go gold. It represented the end of Harris' reign as a consistently successful commercial entity; thereafter, she would struggle to sell records in significant numbers.

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