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Emmylou and David

Updated: Feb 24, 2022

Emmylou Harris figures into David's story several times in some most mystical ways.

He was nineteen when first saw her 1973 live performance with Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels at Houston's Liberty Hall He had not yet discovered the dulcimer, but it was a pivotal moment nevertheless in David's life: it made him realize he wanted to become a musician. He left Liberty Hall entranced, especially by Emmylou. Another fan was in the audience, too, who wouldn't meet David until a dozen years later in Nashville. The two would make music history together, but that would be down the road.

Eleven years after the Liberty Hall experience, David moved to Music City, determined to promote the dulcimer as the most country of all instruments. He put Emmylou's photo on a wall in his apartment that he dubbed the "Wishing Wall". He explained to friend and co-songwriter Herb McCullough that he put her image on his Wishing Wall because he hoped to perform with her someday.

Given the huge splash David made in Nashville, it wasn't too long after that that Emmylou came calling. She asked David to accompany her on a PBS Hank Williams special. As you watch the two of them below, study his face and try to imagine what the culmination of that dream must have felt like to him.

I wrote Pluck in part because I came to believe that David's story was one worth telling for how it reminds us of the importance of pursuing our own dreams. When we are young, dreams bubble forth constantly and everything seems possible. As we grow older, sometimes, some people lose that energy and let doubts creep in and quash those dreams: Oh, I could never do that... other people do that, not me.... Something I learned about David during my research is this: Despite serious health challenges, despite his own self-doubts, and despite the vicissitudes of the music business, he never lost that energy, that drive to experience, learn and pursue new dreams. That perseverance was one of the parts of his personality that people loved about him. And what they still miss to this day; he always slid over to make room for them on his ride. Their ticket to the ride was the passion he inspired within them to fuel their own dreams.

One could imagine that the wish Emmylou professes in this Hank William's song was a blessing that stuck to David till the end of his life.

So, watch the video and then maybe reflect a little: David had his Wishing Wall ... what's on yours today?


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