On Hard Bargain, her third Nonesuch disc, Emmylou Harris offers 11 original songs -- three of them co-written with Grammy and Oscar-winning composer Will Jennings -- that touch on the autobiographical while reaching for the universal. Harris pays tribute to lost friends like her legendary mentor Gram Parsons ("The Road") and her frequent collaborator, the late Kate McGarrigle ("Darlin' Kate"), and also finds poignancy and fresh meaning in events both historical and personal.
On "My Name Is Emmett Till" Harris recalls a pivotal act of violence during the civil rights movement in a heartbreakingly plain-spoken narrative, told from the victim's perspective; on "Goodnight Old World," she fashions a bittersweet lullaby to her newly born grandchild, contrasting a grown-up's world-weariness with a baby's wide-eyed wonder. Few in pop or country music have achieved such honesty or revealed such maturity in their writing. Forty years into her career, Harris shares the hard-earned wisdom that comes with getting older, though she never stops looking ahead.
In addition to the luminous originals Harris composed, the title track comes from Ron Sexsmith -- a folk-rock ballad Harris had been coveting for a long time -- and uplifting closing number "Cross Yourself" was contributed by Joyce. From the Label