Americana music has been enhancing our listening experience for as long as rock music has existed—even if we didn’t realize it. The music of Wilco, Chris Thile, the Jayhawks, Lucinda Williams and many others has brought Americana and its mix of rock, country, bluegrass, folk and pop to our attention. In 2012, the Americana Music Association paid tribute to the wide and deep influence of Americana, presenting awards to artists who have been innovators for decades.
Who won the following awards?
Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance
Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist
Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting
Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance: Bonnie Raitt
Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist: Booker T. Jones
Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting: Richard Thompson
These awards prove the extent of the influence of Americana music: Bonnie Raitt has been associated more with rock, pop and blues; Booker T (with the MGs) was a force in R&B; Richard Thompson has been a rock and folk innovator since the beginning.
As we appreciate the incredible success of Mumford & Sons, the Lumineers and others, we must look back to the earlier blending of Americana’s many threads. The recent collaboration between Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, two of Americana’s early stars, has brought us full circle.
On her first major release, Pieces of the Sky, in 1975, Harris recorded a beautiful version of which Beatles song?
Rodney Crowell’s first album, Ain’t Living Long Like This, was released in 1978. Who also recorded and released that album’s title song the same year?
After recording with Gram Parsons, perhaps the true inventor of Americana music, Harris released Pieces of the Sky, an eclectic blend of country, pop and rock sounds that included a magnificent version of the Lennon/McCartney beauty, “For No One.”
In 1978, Rodney Crowell blended country and rock influences in Ain’t Living Long Like This. Both his version of the title song and the Emmylou Harris version, included on Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town, became widely celebrated by lovers of both rock and country music.