September 19, 2007


Red Dirt Girl

In April of 1947 a star fell on Alabama. Before the star found her glitter she travelled a long and difficult road. The world knows her now as Emmylou Harris and her ethereal voice has crossed genres for the past four decades. And did I say that she's one of my all-time favorites ?

She was in Chicago last evening at Ravinia, a public venue, and is debuting her new album SONGBIRD ,with highlights of her career, today. I can't wait to get it.

In addition to being a singer she's also a talented songwriter and guitarist. She could also be the poster child for the baby boomers : What 60 should look like. What beautiful silver hair she has and the face of an angel .

True to her Alabama roots, she wrote and recorded " Red Dirt Girl ," one of my favorites that I can really relate to :

Me and my best friend Lillian
and her blue tick hound dog Gideon,
Sittin' on the frontporch cooling in the shade
Singing every song the radio played
Waiting for the Alabama sun to go down
two red dirt girls in a red dirt town
Me and Lillian
Just across the line and a little southeast of Meridian.

She loved her brother I remember back when
He was fixin' up a '49 Indian
He told her " Little sister, gonna ride the wind
Up around the moon and back again "
He never got farther than Vietnam,
I was standin' there with her when the telegram come
For Lillian.
Now he's lyin' somewhere about a million miles from Meridian.

She said there's not much hope for a red dirt girl
Somewhere out there is a great big world
That's where I'm bound
And the stars might fall on Alabama
But one of these days I'm gonna swing
Away from this red dirt town
I'm gonna make a joyful sound

She grew up tall and she grew up thin
Buried that old dog Gideon
By a crepe myrtle bush in the back of the yard,
Her daddy turned mean and her mama leaned hard
Got in trouble with a boy from town
Figured that she might as well settle down
So she dug right in
Across a red dirt line just a little south east from Meridian.

She tried hard to love him but it never did take
It was just another way for the heart to break
So she dug right in.
But one thing they don't tell you about the blues
When you got 'em
You keep on falling cause there ain't no bottom
There ain't no end.
At least not for Lillian.

Nobody knows when she started her skid,
She was only 27 and had five kids.
Coulda' been the whiskey,
Coulda' been the pills,
Coulda' been the dream she was trying to kill,
But there won't be a mention in the news of the world
About the life and death of a red dirt girl
Named Lillian
Who never got any farther across the line than Meridian.

Now the stars still fall on Alabama
Tonight she finally laid
That hammer down
Without a sound
In the red dirt ground

( Note : Meridian , Mississippi is a 2 hr. drive from Birmingham )

There but for the grace of God, go I.


  1. That's a great album!
    You should try the Van Lear Rose. You might like that. It was one of the best albums of 2004. It has kind of an interesting story behind it. She paired with Jack White, an indy rocker who looks kind of crazy but is brilliant. He produced it and used old songs she had laying around to create album that uses her asthetic with rock influences.

  2. Thanks, Max. I think you have Emmylou confused with Loretta Lynn who did the Van Lear Rose. I love her , too and it blew everyone away when she won an award.

  3. I agree that ELH is one of America's treasures. I think I first started listening to her when Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town came out (around 1979). I saw her in concert about 15 years ago and loved it.

  4. Hi digital flower and welcome to Sweet Home and Garden Chicago. I'm glad you agree at Emmylou is one of our treasures.

  5. That was so good!! I hung on to every word of that song. I'm a red dirt gal too..just look at the red dirt in my new front yard. Most folks don't think anything will grow in it. I'm going to go find this song on youtube and listen. It must have been one of her wow moments in life. Thank you for sharing it.


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