When Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell released their "Old Yellow Moon," their first duo album, in 2013, they weren't sure there would be another one.
But after it won a Grammy Aard for Best Americana Album, they weren't entirely surprised when the call came to make this year's "The Traveling Kind."
"I think I knew ('Old Yellow Moon') was going to be successful," Harris, 68, says by phone from Nashville. "Rodney and I haven't broken any records as far as album sales, either one of us, but we have really loyal fans who have stuck with us over the years, allowing us to do what we want and what we love.
"There was never a question that there wouldn't be enough success to succeed, and it does help to have a record company (Nonesuch) that says, 'Why don't you go and do another one.'"
The difference this time, Crowell adds, is that there were expectations for "The Traveling Kind" when it came out in March, debuting at No. 8 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart.
"The honeymoon's over," says Crowell, 65, who played guitar in Harris' Hot Band before starting his own recording career in 1978.. "There was a lot of goodwill for ('Old Yellow Moon'), but I think it's human nature that now, being we're on a second record, I'm sure the goodwill is still there, but I don't think it would be the same kind of goodwill. It'll be, 'OK, they did that and here's another one.' It's not unique or surprising anymore.
"So hopefully the record we made is true enough to us that it goes on the merit of what it is more than the novelty of who we were at the time we did the first one."
Crowell says he had a specific goal for "The Traveling Kind." While "Old Yellow Moon" was populated with covers, this time he wanted more originals -- and more originals with Harris' involvement. "I wanted to get Emmy's poetry involved in it," Crowell explains. And teaming with writers such as Cory Chisel and Will Jennings, the duo did just that. But, Harris concedes, it took a bit of arm-twisting.
"Rodney pulled me kicking and screaming into the writing room," says Harris. "Rodney is the real writer; he's been writing for, God, well before I even met him. I'm more of a reluctant...I don't mean casual; when I set my mind to it, I'm pretty serious. But I've been an interpreter most of my career, and so I was a little nervous about going into the writing room, except it was Rodney and he's so supportive of me, and I knew he was right.
"I knew that it was like, 'OK, you've got to come up with something else. We can't just ride on our laurels.' We picked some great cover songs for the first record, but we ARE writers so it was important that we brought that aspect of who we are as artists into this record -- and kudos to Rodney for saying, 'Get yourself in there~!'"
Harris and Crowell will be spending much of the year on the road to support "The Traveling Kind." But with a track record behind them as a duo now, they're both already entertaining the idea of a third album, too.
"I'm ready. Put me in coach," Harris says, while Crowell ponders what direction they should take next time. "We made a record of songs we had known and had around a long time, and then we basically wrote most of this one ourselves," he explained. "So the next one...we'll see."
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell
Friday, Sept. 18. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St.
Tickets are $45-$75.
Call 248-399-2989 or visit royaloakmusictheatre.com
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