Harris: He didn’t have any place to land in particular . . . I needed someone to play rhythm guitar and sing duets with, and at that point we’d been sitting around the house [in L.A.], singing country songs. It just seemed like a natural fit, that of course he’d be in the Hot Band.
Crowell: They were gonna hire these big, high-priced band guys that had played with Elvis to go on the road with her, and I was a friend and confidant and source of songs . . . I landed my role in that band on the strength of the songs, and as a source of friendship for Emmy.
Crowell and Harris remained close throughout the next few decades, as their careers progressed on parallel tracks. As Harris’s fame grew, Crowell became a country star in his own right, and was one-half of a Nashville power couple with his then-wife, Rosanne Cash.
Many of the songs on “Old Yellow Moon” are tracks Harris and Crowell had always wanted to record together.
Crowell: Johnny Cash did “Bull Rider” all those years ago, and he did make it iconic, and it was beautiful. Then two or three years ago Norah Jones recorded it on one of her records, and when I heard it . . . it took me a moment to recognize it was my song. I played it over and over and over again, because I loved it. Something about her version of it gave it back to me; that’s the only reason I brought it up for the sessions with Emmy. She always loved that song.
Harris: To me, the song that exemplifies this record and our friendship is the title track. It could be about a marriage; it could be about a brother and sister; it could be about friends. It’s just about a long, enduring affection for someone.
Harris and Crowell would sometimes go years without seeing each other, and easily pick up their friendship where they left off. Crowell says he can talk to Harris about things he talks to his male friends about, such as baseball. She figures it helps that they never dated.
Crowell: I don’t ever remember us having an argument.
Harris: Oh no, we’ve never had a fight. If we had disagreements, it’s about a song or an idea, and we talk it through.
Crowell: I think I lighten Emmy up, and she lightens me up. It’s always been that way.
Harris: He definitely lightens me up. I hope I lighten him up. He’s one of those people — his friendship is so important. There’s some people you just delight in, and Rodney’s one of those people for me.