|1. Bluebird Wine|
|2. Too Far Gone|
|3. If I Could Only Win Your Love|
|4. Boulder To Birmingham|
|5. Before Believing|
|6. Bottle Let Me Down|
|7. Sleepless Nights|
|8. Coat Of Many Colors|
|9. For No One|
|10. Queen Of The Silver Dollar|
|11. Hank And Lefty|
|12. California Cotton Fields|
My favorite cut, is without a doubt, BOULDER TO BIRMINGHAM since it's also my all-time favorite Emmylou song. My least favorite is probably FOR NO ONE and perhaps for no particular reason other than I never was a big Beatles fan and this always reminds me of the Beatles. I do like THE BOTTLE LET ME DOWN but then I'm a big Merle Haggard fan so there you go.
I love Herb Pedersen's harmonies on IF I CAN ONLY WIN YOUR LOVE, making it another favorite cut. BEFORE BELIEVING is also a favorite as is SLEEPLESS NIGHTS. The others, BLUEBIRD WINE, COAT OF MANY COLORS, QUEEN OF THE SILVER DOLLAR although enjoyable fit somewhere in the middle. TOO FAR GONE fits somewhere between the favorites and the middle.
What strikes me most on this early album is the way her voice hasn't changed that much. Her voice is so pristine in this album and although I do note a grittiness in her voice not there previously, her voice is still strong and so distinctive.
Ranking of this on my favorite Emmylou CDs? Probably #1. Probably because of BOULDER TO BIRMINGHAM and IF I CAN ONLY WIN YOUR LOVE but because it struck me so emotionally the first time I ever heard it. And also likely because the first two of three times I saw Emmylou in concert this was the only album she had out so these songs are indelibly etched in my brain. Anyway, this album is a MUST if you're a true Emmylou fan
The one complaint I have is the way WEA re-masters these classic albums by Emmylou (Quarter Moon, Luxury Liner, Pieces of the Sky, Elite Hotel, Blue Kentucky Girl and Roses in the Snow). They add 2 un-released track on each album. To a fan like me, who has everything Emmylou has released up to this point, in order for me to get these unreleased tracks I must double up on all these albums. I think this is unfair. I wish WEA would make one album with these 12 un-released tracks, and I would pay a premium for this one album.
Anyway, to the lucky people who did not buy the original releases, they are in for a real treat. But the long time fans, lose out unless we choose to spend alot of money on cds which we already have in order to get a few extra tracks.
Pieces of the Sky established a high standard that Harris maintained for years to come. Her blueprint included the assemblage of stellar musicians, among them the legendary guitarist James Burton who had earlier worked his magic on numerous recordings by Rick Nelson and Elvis Presley. Also, an extremely eclectic song selection, with new compositions such as "Bluebird Wine" (by her future Hot Band member Rodney Crowell) and Harris' own "Boulder To Birmingham," alongside covers of the Louvin Brother's "If I Could Only Win Your Love," Lennon & McCartney's "For No One" and Dolly Parton's "Coat Of Many Colors."
"Too Far Gone" (# 13 country) and "If I Could Only Win Your Love" (# 4 country, # 58 pop) were this album's singles. For these remastered Rhino reissues, they have also included two bonus tracks on each cd. The additions to Piece Of The Sky are a pair of Dallas Frazier compositions, "Hank And Lefty" and "California Cottonfields" whose ultra-traditional sound fits in nicely with the rest of the original album.
This isn't today's "alt-country", and indeed it may well be more country than some of Emmylou's 21st-century fans are comfortable with. Back in the day, we hippie sorts had nothing to do with official country music, and the official world of country music would have nothing to do with Emmylou. She was nowhere near to moving to Nashville yet, and was played on the same FM stations that played rock music. Her music was a continuation of music we then put in the country-rock genre, which was considered every bit as cool as any other sort of rock in the early 70's. In a rock historian's book, maybe the driving force was Gram Parsons joining the Byrds and helping create their "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" album. But out in the real world, no one had heard of Gram Parsons, was unlikely to have heard more than a song or two from that album, and what brought country-rock into our worlds were later incarnations of the Byrds, Bob Dylan doing "Nashville Skyline", and lesser bands like New Riders of the Purple Sage or Commander Cody. Those are the sounds that primed us for the far more enduring music of Emmylou Harris.
Without denying Gram Parsons his due, he is known today largely because of the work Emmylou Harris started so brilliantly here.Read more ›