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Emmylou Harris performs "Love Hurts" live on Showbiz Today

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Emmylou Harris whipping crowds up with 'Spyboy'

Web posted on: Friday, August 21, 1998 4:26:59 PM

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- A spyboy, says Emmylou Harris, is "the person that goes ahead of the Mardi Gras and kind of whips everybody into a frenzy, and it's kind of like a scout, troublemaker, jester, clown, street performer. It seemed like a nice, mysterious and yet fun name for a band."

Spyboy, the band, consists of bassist/vocalist Daryl Johnson, drummer/vocalist Brady Blade and guitarist/vocalist Buddy Miller. Harris credits Johnson with suggesting the band's name and says Miller wanted to let all of them rock the houses during their two-year tour.

"Spyboy," the album, includes live performances of 12 songs from the Grammy-winning studio album, "Wrecking Ball," as well as some oldies, including "Love Hurts." The album retraces Harris' personal and professional journey and in many ways is an ending and a new beginning for the eclectic lady.

Record she's 'really proud of'

"It's a great band, and it's a record that I'm really proud of," Harris told CNN's Showbiz Today. "I've been out touring kind of nonstop for a couple of years, and so this is a way to tell myself and everybody else that that's what I've been doing, that I haven't been taking time off, which is something we mustn't ever do."

The tour was recorded with one thing in mind: Harris' desire to get down a live version of Daniel Lanois' spiritual opus, "The Maker." It is her first recording of the song because she did not want to compete with Lanois' 1990 original.

Lanois, after all, lushly produced "Wrecking Ball," the 1995 Grammy winner for best contemporary folk album -- but it did not sell very well.

Harris was disappointed.

"I'm not an artist that's going to sell millions of records," Harris told The Dallas Morning News. "But I did feel that there was perhaps a larger potential audience for 'Wrecking Ball' than was reached. When it came down to the bottom line, I think there was a certain point where it kind of got pushed back for new product. This is the way it happens. It's not just Elektra, it's everywhere."

Elektra, then her record label, now is past tense for Harris. She also split -- apparently amiably -- with her manager, Monty Hitchcock. "Spyboy" is a one-time project of Eminent Records, a label started by Hitchcock.

Crusades against land mines

Harris, 51, has been around the block a few times. She has sung Southern gospel, contemporary rock, traditional country and folk -- and won seven Grammys for her work. She's buddies with, and a singer on, Texas crooner Willie Nelson's upcoming album, and still a main-stage performer with the Lilith Fair concerts.

She crusades against land mines and for reforestation -- she'll be participating on August 27 in a benefit concert in Los Angeles, in support of reforesting the Vietnamese countryside. She hugs trees but is even busier not pursuing her "muse" too rigorously.

"I wanted to get away from certain commitments and try to give myself some time to write and think about my next studio record," Harris told CNN's Showbiz Today. "And I think you just have to kind of let the field lie fallow a little bit. That's the hardest thing for a lot of people, myself included."

Elaborating on that theme, Harris told The Dallas Morning News: "For me, momentum is not as important as the creative energy that comes from feeling that you got the goods. I'm kind of working on the goods. You can cling to that muse, plead with that muse, but it's not enough to hope that the muse is going to drop down on you. You have to give yourself some space for her to come to you."

Correspondent Laurin Sydney contributed to this report.

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