Buddy Miller is among the prime forces in Americana music, starring as a singer, a musician, a recording artist, and a songwriter whose compositions have been recorded by Dierks Bentley, the Dixie Chicks, Levon Helm, and Miranda Lambert. His wife and musical partner, Julie Miller, is also a gifted and often-covered songwriter (Emmylou Harris, Lee Ann Rimes, Lee Ann Womack) and together their harmonies are as riveting, inspiring, and unlikely as their personal stories. Buddy and Julie tell some of those stories, shedding light on trials, tribulations, and triumphs on this edition of Voices in the Hall.
Peter on Episode 14: Buddy & Julie Miller
Genius and decency don’t always walk together.
Genius involves singularity, and separation from the pack. Decency necessitates a sense of commonality, and it mandates a kind of empathy that geniuses seldom possess.
Buddy Miller is a musical genius, and an unquestionably decent man. He’s married to a woman, Julie Miller, of whom these things may also be said. She has written songs recorded by Emmylou Harris, Miranda Lambert, Solomon Burke, Levon Helm, and a whole bunch of others. He has been named “Artist of the Decade” by No Depression magazine and has aided the musical causes of Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Steve Earle, Jim Lauderdale, and, especially, Emmylou.
Together, they create great art, much of which involves the indecencies that impact decent lives. After numerous remarkable solo and duo records, Julie stopped recording, felled by fibromyalgia (look it up, if you’d like to learn about something that’s just plain awful). It has been 10 years since they have recorded together, which is a decade that we have had no new music from a couple whose harmonies are unlike anyone else’s. During that “down” time, Buddy worked nonstop, to the point of something that looks to some of us like exhaustion, with a litany of greats, while Julie stayed at home on 20th Avenue South in Nashville.
They are recording together again, and have emerged with an album called Breakdown on 20th Ave. South. The new song-set is fueled by Julie’s writing and by Buddy’s inventive musical settings and instrumental work. I was pleased to sit down with them and talk about their journeys as people and as musicians.
Turns out there can be genius in decency. These are fine and talented folks.
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