RIFFS / Easing the heat: Iris Dement on 'Together Again'

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The Independent Culture
THIS IS not my favourite song, but I like it because it reminds me of a time when I was just starting out. I had just moved from Topeka, Kansas, and was living alone in Kansas City, Missouri, in a single room and I had a beat-box on the floor by my mattress. I used to listen to Emmylou Harris tapes in the night when it was so hot I couldn't sleep. It's just one person talking about a couple who've had a breakup and gotten back together again. It's pretty short - it's just about this feeling of relief and happiness at their being back together again.

It sounds like a duet, but it's just Emmylou multi-tracked, singing harmonies with herself. The lyric is simple, straightforward and uncluttered:

'Together again, my tears have stopped falling, / The long lonely nights are now at an end, / The key to my heart you hold in your hand, / And nothing else matters, 'cause we're together again.'

It doesn't even have a chorus.

The voice is strong and full, it's ecstatic. The melody sweeps up with her voice, and I love the way she stresses words: 'To-gether a-gain', 'The key to my heart'. When she sings about how her 'tears have stopped fall-ing' you get the sense that she's calmed down, she's all cried out.

The music is simple, too - just the piano 'walking down' the scale, (the way a bass is said to 'walk up'), and if it wasn't for the music it would seem to last five times longer. It's very slow. Some songs are like that - the tempo is kept by the voice. You can count to five between some of the phrases: 'Together again 1,2,3,4,5, my tears . . .' There's a lot of empty space which adds to the impact, and gives you time to absorb the words and the feelings.

'Together Again' is on Emmylou Harris's album 'Elite Hotel' (Reprise, CD254060)

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