NEW YEAR’S WITH EMMYLOU, AND EUREKA!
THE SEED FOR NANCI GRIFFITH’S 10th album was planted on New Year’s Eve, 1991. “Emmylou Harris and I have a ritual every year,” says the singer, 39, who lives outside Nashville. “We get together for a quiet evening where we drink champagne and celebrate friendship and sing songs. We were singing some favorites by the late Kate Wolf, who was such a fine songwriter, and we started talking about how great songs need to be sung by new voices to have new life. I’ve always wanted to do a tribute to all the songwriters who influenced and inspired me, and that conversation with Emmylou made up my mind.
“Choosing the songs was very painful. We started with a list of about 300 [and began winnowing]. We wanted to represent every era of folk music, going back to ‘Are You Tired of Me Darling,’ which was written in 1877.
“Part of the reason I borrowed Truman Capote’s title was because his book represented a new voice that got heard. This was also the period of the postwar folk revival, when the Weavers and Pete Seeger were commercially successful and championing other songwriters. Today, commercial music considers folk music to be the lowest rung on the ladder. So much of my audience is young people, and they don’t have access to this beautiful music that my parents listened to and that I heard when I was younger. I want to show that each generation needs to make its own folk revival.”