The Ballad of Sally Rose

The Ballad of Sally Rose is an album by Emmylou Harris released in February 1985. It marked a significant departure for Harris for two reasons. First, all the songs were written by her and her then-husband Paul Kennerley, while her previous albums had consisted mostly of others' material. Secondly, it is a concept album, loosely based on Harris' 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.

The Ballad of Sally Rose
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 25, 1985
StudioTreasure Isle Recorders, Nashville, Tennessee
LabelWarner Bros. Nashville
ProducerPaul Kennerley
Emmylou Harris chronology
White Shoes
The Ballad of Sally Rose
Singles from The Ballad of Sally Rose
  1. "White Line" / "Long Tall Sally Rose"
    Released: February 1985
  2. "Rhythm Guitar" / "Diamond in My Crown"
    Released: June 1985
  3. "Timberline" / "Sweet Chariot"
    Released: October 1985

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
Allmusic     [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 that she would have 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 listingEdit

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

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. Carter1:07
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 Montgomery2:50
13."Sweet Chariot" 2:58


Technical personnelEdit

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



  1. ^ Hurst, Jack (March 10, 1985). "More Than A Hint Emmylou Harris Comes Out In 'Ballad Of Sally Rose'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 11, 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
  5. ^ "Emmylou Harris Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  6. ^ "Emmylou Harris Chart History (Top Country Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  7. ^ "Top Country Albums – Year-End 1985". Billboard. Retrieved June 8, 2021.