Individually, they are three of the most influential and distinctive vocal stylists in modern popular music. Together, they have a fourth voice, the voice of Trio.
"The sum is greater than the parts," says Linda Ronstadt. "It's like standing in a room full of mirror, our voices reflect off one another and take on the characteristics of each other. When it's
really good I can't figure out who is singing which part. That's when it's magical."
"We each have our own paths and yet there is this vehicle for three women to sing together, Trio," adds Emmylou Harris. "It inspires us. Trio is driven by the love of the song and the love of our harmonic opportunities."
"I am thrilled to death that we do great work together and can be good friends," says Dolly Parton. "I have prayed for years that this time would come again, the right time."
The time is now. Asylum Records proudly presents the long-awaited reunion, Trio II, a stunning collection of harmony that is certain to be hailed as one of the landmark record releases of 1999. Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt have, indeed, made something "magical."
The last time these living legends teamed up they collected a Grammy AwardŽ, a Platinum Record, an Academy of Country Music honor, four hit singles and a Country Music Association award. By any measure, the original Trio album was a milestone in American music, a lovingly hand-sewn sampler of songs that glowed with feminine harmony. It marked the first time that three female superstars had collaborated so fully on a musical project and became an example for a generation of women performers to come.
If that original collaboration was delicate heirloom lace, Trio II has the comfort, warmth and color of a fireside quilt. This is the work of three women whose voices have defined an era. And their fourth voice, the voice of Trio, is even more awesome than ever. It is a voice that sums up three lifetimes of melody, experience, achievement and love.
Linda leads Trio through The Carter Family's acoustic mountain chestnut "Lover's Return," Randy Newman's orchestral "Feels Like Home," the lustrous heartache tune "High Sierra" and the evocative, multi-textured pop piece "Blue Train."
Emmylou's voice is the centerpiece of The O'Kanes' bittersweet meditation "When We're Gone, Long Gone," the gorgeous Irish ballad "You'll Never Be the Sun" and a stone-country delivery of Dolly's composition "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind."
Dolly's Appalachian soprano is Trio's focus in Del McCoury's bluegrass song "I Feel the Blues Movin' In," the rambling-boy lyric "He Rode All the Way to Texas" and Neil Young's vivid word painting "After the Gold Rush."
Yet throughout Trio II, three voices are one voice. Dolly, Linda and Emmylou come from three completely different backgrounds and yet they share an unshakable sisterhood.
Linda first met Dolly in 1970. At the time, the Arizona-bred Linda was visiting the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and struggling to get on her feet as a performer. Two years later, she attended a Gram Parsons concert in Texas and encountered the voice of Emmylou Harris.
"What she was doing just blew me away," Linda recalls. "She had it all. I remember when I met Emmy I said, 'Who's your favorite singer?' She said, 'I really like Dolly Parton.' 'Jolene' was on the radio then and we really liked that." The Alabama "marine brat" and the Southern California country-rocker became fast friends. Linda led the cheering section when Emmylou issued her solo debut in 1975.
"I don't know how it worked out, but when Emmy was living in L.A. she called me up and said, 'Dolly Parton is at my house, come over.' It was just a fluke that we got to be in the same room with Dolly and began to sing with her. We were just sitting on the sofa in her living room. When we sat down and started to sing, it was really good. All I remember is the sound. It gave me goosebumps. It was beautiful. There was no doubt of it."
Linda and Emmylou went to Nashville to introduce the Trio sound on Dolly's TV show in 1976. They began recording their first Trio album in 1978, but abandoned the project. Emmylou scored a hit single with Trio's recording of "Mister Sandman" in 1981 and "My Blue Tears" wound up on Linda's Get Closer album in 1982. The Trio reconvened in the studio in 1986 and the resulting album appeared a year later.
In 1987-88 Trio made a number of media appearances and issued a string of hit singles, "To Know Him Is To Love Him," "Telling Me Lies," "Those Memories of You" and "Wildflowers." They resolved to continue their collaboration.
"We got together in the fall of 1993 in San Francisco to pick songs," recalls Emmylou. "Then we started recording and were done by the late spring of '94. We thought we should really promote Trio II, but everybody's schedule was crazy, so it never came out. Once that first delay happened, the wind went out of the sails. Everything just got shelved."
Feeling that Trio II was a dead issue, Linda put arrangements of "High Sierra," "Feels Like Home," "Lover's Return" and "After the Gold Rush" on her 1995 CD; and Dolly likewise replicated "After the Gold Rush" on her 1996 CD.
Emmylou says, "I don't know if any of us thought it would ever come out. Maybe after we were dead or something. But it was a lovely record and I guess somebody at the record company heard it and went, 'Wow, let's just put it out.'"
And so the tracks were reassembled. Those unmistakable and impossible to duplicate Trio harmonies were "dusted off." Now, finally, we can hear the extraordinary musicians who were originally gathered for the reunion of Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt, the trilling mandolin of David Grisman, the bluesy fiddle of Alison Krauss, the heartbeat drums of Larry Atamanuik and Jim Keltner and the rippling acoustic guitars of Carl Jackson, Dean Parks and Mark Casstevens. Swirling in and out of the mix are such "bonus" audio delights as David Campbell's strings, Robby Buchanan's keyboards, the glass armonica of Dennis James, Ben Keith's steel guitar, legendary bassists Leland Sklar and Edgar Meyer and David Lindley's autoharp. Underlying it all is the throbbing, immaculate bass playing of the late Roy Huskey Jr., to whom Trio II is dedicated.
"Last year, Linda and Emmy called me and said they'd been listening to the album and loving it," Dolly reports. "I couldn't be happier that it's finally coming out."
Says Linda, "The Trio is something ultra special in my life. When I hear those records it makes me really happy because I know that we succeeded in doing exactly what we set out to do. The sound just always charms and captivates me. I have singing sisters and when we sing together we completely lose our individual selves and make something that is greater than what we do alone. The Trio just soars."