The Ballad of Sally Rose

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The Ballad of Sally Rose
Studio album by Emmylou Harris
Released May 1985
Genre Country
Length 36:12
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Paul Kennerley
Emmylou Harris chronology
White Shoes
The Ballad of Sally Rose

The Ballad of Sally Rose is an album by Emmylou Harris released in May 1985. It marked a significant departure for Harris (whose previous albums had consisted mostly of others' material), as all the songs were written by her and her then-husband Paul Kennerley. Additionally, it is a concept album, loosely based on Harris's relationship with Gram Parsons. The album tells the story of a character named Sally Rose, a singer whose lover and mentor, a hard-living, hard-drinking musician, is killed while on the road.[1] Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Gail Davies sing harmony on several of the songs. Many of the songs flow into one another to create a continuous momentum.

Prior to this album, only Harris' 1969 debut Gliding Bird had more than two of her own compositions, a feat she would not repeat until Red Dirt Girl in 2000. Harris has described the album as a "country opera".


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[2]

In a BBC Radio 2 programme recounting her career in 2006, Harris related how the album was a commercial "disaster" upon its release, its relative failure meaning she had to work "for money" again. Two singles from the album performed disappointingly by Harris' standards, although the single "White Line" was a reasonable success, reaching No. 14 on the country charts.[2]

The Ballad of Sally Rose was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.[3]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Emmylou Harris and Paul Kennerley; except where indicated[4]

No. Title Length
1. "The Ballad of Sally Rose"   2:48
2. "Rhythm Guitar"   3:18
3. "I Think I Love Him" / Instrumental: "You Are My Flower" (Harris / A.P. Carter) 1:07
4. "Heart to Heart"   2:31
5. "Woman Walk the Line"   4:08
6. "Bad News"   1:46
7. "Timberline"   2:51
8. "Long Tall Sally Rose"   1:32
9. "White Line"   3:46
10. "Diamond in My Crown"   2:55
11. "The Sweetheart of the Rodeo"   3:41
12. "K-S-O-S"/instrumental medley: "Ring of Fire"/"Wildwood Flower"/"Six Days on the Road" (Harris, Kennerley; June Carter, Merle Kilgore, A.P. Carter, Earl Greene, Carl Montgomery) 2:50
13. "Sweet Chariot"   2:58


  • Steve Cash: Harmonica
  • Barbara Cowart: Backing Vocals
  • Gail Davies: Backing Vocals
  • Hank DeVito: Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Pedal Steel, Dobro
  • Phillip Donelly: Electric Slide Guitar
  • Bessyl Duhon: Accordion
  • Ray Flacke: Electric Guitar
  • Vince Gill: Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals
  • Emory Gordy, Jr.: Acoustic Guitar, Bass, String Arrangements
  • Emmylou Harris: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals
  • John Jarvis: Keyboards
  • Waylon Jennings: Electric Guitar
  • Shane Keister: Keyboards
  • Paul Kennerley: Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
  • Russ Kunkel: Drums
  • Albert Lee: Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Mandolin
  • Larrie Londin: Drums, Percussion
  • Dolly Parton: Backing Vocals
  • Tom Roady: Percussion
  • Linda Ronstadt: Backing Vocals
  • Gary Scruggs: Harmonica
  • Buddy Spicher: Fiddle
  • Barry Tashian: Acoustic Guitar
  • Bobby Thompson: Acoustic Guitar, Banjo

Technical personnel[edit]

  • Donivan Cowart: Engineer
  • Tom Harding: Second Engineer
  • Emmylou Harris: Producer
  • Paul Kennerley: Producer
  • Keith Odle: Second Engineer

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1985) Peak
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 8
U.S. Billboard 200 171


  1. ^ Hurst, Jack (10 March 1985). "More Than A Hint Emmylou Harris Comes Out In `Ballad Of Sally Rose`". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 11 May 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Allmusic review
  3. ^ Rock on the Net: 26th Annual Grammy Awards
  4. ^ Emmylou Harris The Ballad of Sally Rose liner notes