Hard Bargain

Album: Hard Bargain (2011)
  • This is the title track of Emmylou Harris' 22nd major label studio album. The disc was produced by Jay Joyce (Patty Griffin, Jack Ingram, Cage the Elephant), with whom she'd previously recorded a theme for the romantic drama, Nights in Rodanthe. It was cut in a mere four weeks at a Nashville studio, with only Harris, Joyce, and multi-instrumentalist Giles Reaves. "We did the whole thing with just three musicians, me being one of them," said Emmylou. "Jay, the producer, and Giles Reeves play everything between them. It's not a stripped down record though; there's only one song that's a little bare bones. I'm basically a slow ballad-y person, but Jay managed to really move the songs up a bit. But they still have the same emotional feel."
  • This sparsely arranged track was originally recorded by the Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith on his 2004 album, Retriever. The song describes a lover, friend, or even a guardian angel who repeatedly pulls someone back from the brink of falling apart. Said Harris, "I'm just grateful to have discovered the song. It was there for the plucking. Jay really loved it too and then we ended up calling the album Hard Bargain because it just seemed to tie everything together. The people in your life, and the joy of life, will always bring you back no matter what, and I think that's echoed in every song in a way. I may be stretching things a little bit but if you had to, 'Hard Bargain' would sum up this particular song cycle."
  • Harris told Spinner UK: "The song 'Hard Bargain,' I had in mind for a few years. In fact, I wanted to cut it on the last record; for some reason, we just didn't. But when I played it for Jay Joyce - who produced my current record - he loved it. I don't know Ron very well, I have met him only a few times, but I am a fan of his music. Just about every singer-songwriter that you meet thinks Ron has hung the moon."

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