Bang The Drum Slowly

Album: Red Dirt Girl (2000)


  • Guy Clark helped Emmylou Harris write this elegy for her father, who died in 1993. She told American Songwriter magazine: "You would think something like that is so important that you should write about it. I had a great level of difficulty dealing with something so close to home. It took me a while to get some distance … My dad, he worked on cars… there were so many things I could have learned from him but I was too busy being an artist. Sometimes, [with writing] you just forget: you think it has to come from above when it actually just comes from your heart."

    "Guy Clark said we should write the song, because he knew my dad," Emmylou added. "When my parents would come to visit, I would always have Guy and Susanna over. Guy really appreciated that my father flew Corsair jets, and also how grounded he was, with the way he could make coffee and such. You know how Guy is, he can see people in a frame. And I felt that he could pull that out of me."

    "So we worked on that song one day and then we would phone each other," she continued. "He once said, 'Is your father buried in Arlington?' I said 'no' and then he said, 'That's such a great word.' So that is one thing in the song that is in a sense not true."


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