This was writ­ten around 1960 by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant (an in­ter­est­ing song­writ­ing team I’d nev­er heard of be­fore) and made a hit then by the Ever­ly Brother­s. But the ver­sions I care about are by Em­my­lou Har­ris, es­pe­cial­ly her ver­sion with Gram Par­son­s.

Fabrice and Boudleaux Bryant

The Bryants

It’s about the sim­plest coun­try melody imag­in­able, sung su­per slow, so the lyrics are few: Oh, these sleep­less nights / Will break my heart in two. I’m re­al­ly hard-pressed to pick be­tween Ms Harris’ so­lo ver­sion on Pieces of the Sky (a won­der­ful col­lec­tion, by the way) or the col­lab­o­ra­tion with Gram Par­sons on a Fly­ing Bur­ri­to Brothers al­bum al­so called Sleep­less Nights, which fea­tures her on sev­er­al songs (extra-wonderful). The Em­my­lou/Gram har­monies are exquisite (grant­ed, Em­my­lou/any­one har­monies usu­al­ly are), but on Pieces of the Sky, Em­my­lou takes the song on very much alone, with an un­usu­al­ly spare ar­range­men­t. They’re both re­al weep­er­s.

Sleepless Nights, Flying Burrito Brothers

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. So­lo on Pieces of the Sky: Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy. With Gram on Sleep­less Nights: iTunes, Spo­ti­fy. Ama­zon. The on­ly live video I can find is Em­my­lou with the “Milk Car­ton Kids” (and Steve Ear­le sit­ting in) which is pret­ty meh.

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April 30, 2018
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