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All I Intended to Be

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

On her third Nonesuch disc, Emmylou Harris assembles an extraordinary cast of veteran musicians and fellow singers, all of them longtime
friends, for a set that indeed showcases this Nashville icon, and 2008 CMA Hall of Fame inductee, as all she has intended to be
a singularly expressive vocalist, a brilliant interpreter of other people's songs, a graceful and confident songwriter. In particular, the
album displays Harris's ability to bring new life to songs that may have been overlooked, forgotten or lost along the way. Some of the
most affecting material here may be the least well-known though not for long: John Wesley Routh's celtic/country Shores Of White Sands
and trucker-poet Michael Germino's heartrending story-song, Broken Man's Lament. Harris has chosen these songs with conceptual care.
Like much of the gently uplifting All I Intended To Be, the stories may be bittersweet, the characters may be downtrodden, but somehow
a sense of redemption always vanquishes regret.
The shared history of all the artists involved deepens the feeling of hard-won wisdom that informs All I Intended To Be. Producer Brian
Ahern was behind the boards for such early Harris classics as Elite Hotel, Pieces of the Sky and Blue Kentucky Girl. The players and
guest stars are not only a veritable who's-who from the worlds of country, bluegrass and folk, but they have each intersected with Harris
throughout her four-decade career as a recording artist. They include Dolly Parton, singers Pam Rose and Maryann Kennedy, dobro player
(and longtime Seldom Scene member) Mike Auldredge, keyboardists Glenn D. Hardin (of Harris s Hot Band and Elvis Presley's legendary
TCB combo) and Bill Payne (of Little Feat). Two songs the June Carter tribute, How She Could Sing The Wildwood Flower and the
breathtakingly beautiful Sailing Round the Room were co-written by and performed with Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Singer-songwriter
Karen Brooks, whose own eighties-era version of Shores of White Sands was the inspiration and thematic jumping-off point for this entire
album, contributes backing vocals throughout; Randy Sharp, Brooks singing partner, did the vocal arranging. (Harris won a 2005 Best
Country Vocal Performance Grammy for her rendition of Sharp s The Connection. )
Harris's own songs, like the heartache ballad Gold and the elegiac Not Enough, blend seamlessly with work by Patty Griffin ( Moon
Song ), Merle Haggard ( Kern River ) and Billy Joe Shaver ( Old Five and Dimers, from which the album title is taken). Harris revives
what is arguably Tracy Chapman s most eloquent song, Fast Car notwithstanding All That You Have Is Your Soul, a cautionary tale
with a simple but profound prayer of a chorus. Displaying the maturity, elegance and ease that distinguished All The Road Running, her
best-selling 2006 collaboration with Mark Knopfler. Harris has created a riveting emotional and spiritual journey. All That I Intended To Be
is everything a listener and fan could hope for.

Emmylou Harris has always had a way with woe. On All I Intended To Be, she seems more maudlin than ever as she sings her way through songs about loss, heartbreak, even the odd funeral. Of course, this is the kind of material Harris has always been comfortable with, but as her career and years advance gracefully, so her gliding soprano seems to breathe ever more refinement and soul into her material. All I Intended To Be has been produced by Brian Ahern, her former husband and the man behind her first 11 albums--another reason the album sounds so comfortable and accomplished. Joined by a virtuoso set of players including keyboardist Glen Hardin and multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan, plus vocalists Vince Gill, Buddy Miller, and Dolly Parton, Harris blends a handpicked selection of cover versions with her own material. Tracy Chapman's "All That You Have Is Your Soul" gets a honeyed reworking, as does Merle Haggard's "Kern River" and Mark Germino's "Broken Man's Lament". Billy Joe Shaver's "Old Five" and "Dimers Like Me" both get respectfully and sublimely covered too. But her own songs--in particular "Sailing Round the Room" and "Gold"--stand up well to these evergreens. An eclectic and profound set, All I Intended To Be is also one of Harris’ best in recent years.--Danny McKenna

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 10, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B0017I1FNK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,358 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

233 of 247 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Kornbluth TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 10, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Until very recently, no one expected something "new" from an artist. He/she did what he/she did, and, over time, with work and talent and increasing mastery, the art got better and better. But it didn't get "different" and there was no expectation of novelty --- no one wrote about "Bleak House" that Dickens had failed to make a stylistic leap over "David Copperfield".

Emmylou Harris is an Old School musician in many ways, but especially in this --- she's plowed the same field for almost all her career. There have been modest detours, but nothing requiring her to change her hair or buy a drum machine. She just sings American Roots music, straight ahead and unadorned.

American Roots music isn't country, pop or rock, though it's not ashamed to borrow from those styles. It's not bluegrass, gospel, folk or Cajun, though there are elements. To its practitioners, it's the authentic heart of the heartland, songs that could only come from here, sounds that remind us who we are. Soul music, if you will.

Emmylou Harris is the high priestess of this music, and on her 21st release she does it as well as anyone ever will. To those who do not worship at her shrine or listen only casually to her music, it may sound like just another Emmylou Harris record: that exquisite voice, evocative lyrics, flawless instrumentation and angelic harmonies. Yes, it is, and "Great Expectations" is just another Dickens novel.

In today's lost and destructive music business, it takes ferocious courage and massive self-assurance to put out a record of quiet beauty and then to put a title like "All I Intended to Be" on it. That's a statement, a stake in the ground --- Emmylou Harris may seem uncommonly modest and self-effacing, but this is her "My Way".
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Oz Wizard on August 26, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Once again I feel compelled to comment on Emmylou's music. When I first saw this disk I read various reviews here whining that this album is a "downer" and the like. I smiled to myself and bought it without a second thought. I would have bought it no matter what the reviews said. Yes, Emmylou sings about pain, but she also sings about redemption and perseverance, the dawn that follows the darkness. Anyway, what price do you put on music that brings tears to your eyes?

But I am writing just to comment on one track from this disk. "All That You Have Is Your Soul", a song that did not grab me when I heard the author's version two decades ago, is rescued here and made Emmylou's own. The song includes the lines: "hunger only for a taste of justice, hunger only for a world of truth." The depth of longing in the "hunger only", the slight hush of reverence in "justice" and "truth". Those lines, at this time, in that voice... Whatever I might think of the tracks on this album, and my opinion varies, those few seconds are worth the price of the album to me, and I would not be without it.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By R. Kyle VINE VOICE on August 4, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Emmylou Harris may be so good, she is at her penultimate for most of her career. I admit, I enjoy her soulful voice and spare orchestrations so much that I really cannot claim to have a favorite CD from her releases.

This 2008 release was produced by her former husband, Bruce Ahern. You'll hear old friends on this CD, including Dolly Parton (backup on "Gold") and Buddy Miller. The 'songfinder' has snagged some great music, too, from the likes of Tracy Chapman and Kate McGarrigle.

"Broken Man's Lament" talks about not messing with someone else's dreams. When the subject married a bar singer, he asked her not to sing.

"Gold" talks about the human failings in all of us:

"no matter how bright I glitter, baby, I can never be gold"

Probably my favorite song of this collection is "All that you have is your soul" by Tracy Chapman. This song contains some of the best life advice you can get.

In this case, I think a lot of this CD was gold as soon as it was released.

Rebecca Kyle, August 2008
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sandy on June 24, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've been an Emmylou Harris fan for almost three decades. While I enjoy the majority of her music, I've always gravitated toward her ballads. The lyrics and music of the ballads she has recorded across the years -- and most importantly, that yearning voice that instills them with the pathos of the human experience -- have always spoken to me. Therefore, this new album, filled with songs of regret and heartache (and hope--Sailing Round the Room, with it's sweet lyrics regarding existence beyond death, is really too beautiful to even describe), is a keeper in my collection and I have a feeling that it will become my favorite Emmylou album overall.

I cannot imagine any other voice that could draw the listener into the emotions embedded in the lyrics as effectively as Emmylou's. This is a mature album for a mature listener who has experienced the sadness and regret that instill the human experience and that eventually make or break us. To me, the songs on the album are forms of redemption, turning the bitter heartaches of life into beautiful music that speaks to fellow travelers along the way.

This music is neither bland nor boring. It is reflective, testamental, a tribute to Emmylou's attitude that one should make music for the sake of making music rather than seeking to please every listening audience. It won't be to everyone's liking, nor should it be. But for those who find Emmylou to be one of the finest balladeers of all time it will be love at first hearing. All in all, if I could give this album more than 5 stars, I would.
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Can you recommend a traditional country cd from Emmylou, please?
Quartermoon in a ten cent town
Jun 5, 2010 by Penny G. Viator |  See all 9 posts
Emmylou Harris- All I Intended to Be
Emmy's latest releases have taken a few listens for me to warm up to. I was raised on Emmylou and have to say I much prefer her work from Pieces of the Sky through Cowgirl's Prayer. Wrecking Ball caught me off gaurd but then I was able to appreciate the different direction she was taking with her... Read More
May 8, 2008 by Gregory Williams |  See all 12 posts
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