Monday, June 18, 2007

More Reasons To Be Enamored Of Emmylou

Emmylou Harris was the most recent guest on "Talking Animals," and I remain so excited about the conversation with her, I still have a spring in my step.

Of course, given the caliber of guests we're fortunate enough to have visit with us on the show, I'm pretty darn excited during (and after) speaking with all of 'em. It's just that Emmylou is the first guest since we launched the "Talking Animals" Blog, so this is the first opportunity I've had to blog about a guest.

But, really, it's more than that. Over a career spanning more than three decades--during which she's collected 12 Grammys and demonstrated a real affinity for collaboration, for example, recently recording an album with Mark Knopfler, "All The Roadrunning" and singing with Conor Oberst on three songs of Bright Eyes' "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning"--she's established herself as a singular artist with a generous spirit.

So given that she's long projected a kind and generous attitude, perhaps it should be far from surprising that she's a lifelong animal advocate, from growing up in a house full of animals and animal lovers (her Dad was studying to be a veterinarian until World War II and other factors derailed him from that track) to now, at 60(!), when her own Nashville house is full of animals--and that she operates a small foster care shelter for dogs, Bonaparte's Retreat, at that house.

Or that the dogs she brings into Bonaparte's Retreat are ones who, for one reason or another, are otherwise prime candidates to be euthanized.

Or that she's lobbied for an anti-tethering (i.e., chaining a dog) ordinance.

Or that she's just as likely to talk about the importance of animal adoption and spay/neuter as about her latest music project.

Or that she's taped animal-oriented public service announcements.

Or that she's organized &/or performed benefit concerts for various animal welfare organizations.

Or in discussing some of these things in our conversation on "Talking Animals," that she spoke eloquently with deep expertise and authority--this ain't a celebrity diletante. She truly understands the issues, and has not only been in the trenches of working with local and national organizations on adoption (and other matters), but took it a step further by rolling up her sleeves and getting her hands by converting her back yard into a foster care shelter, saving countless dogs over the years from being put to death.

All this, with her gentle manner and humanity underscored by a speaking voice that's nearly as sweet, inviting and distinctive as her singing voice. Indeed, after the show, a friend e-mailed, saying, in part, "her voice and delivery are so soothing to my ears...She seems like a real gem of a human being."

Exactly. Which is why it was a huge treat--and enormously exciting--to have this conversation with Emmylou.

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