The first time Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt sang together, they knew they had something special that needed to be captured on record. But with three of the hottest solo careers going in the Seventies, various record label tangles to work through, and a desire to devote the time such a project would require, it would be more than a decade after they first recorded together that all the details would finally be ironed out so that a proper album was released. It took so long, in fact, that a whole new recording format – CDs – had been introduced by the time the spectacular Trio album was issued in 1987. It was another 12 years before the sequel, the less-than-imaginatively-titled but still musically thrilling Trio II, was released.
Although a third Trio collaboration is unlikely since Ronstadt was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013, leaving her unable to sing, the promise of some unreleased recordings to be made available in the near future has been hinted at by one of the iconic singers. In an interview with CMT, Parton says a collection containing previously unissued material has been in the works for a while.
“We’ve been trying for years to put out the thing that we had in the can and repackage the things that we did,” she explains. “Emmylou has been working at this for a long time. We thought it was coming out two to three years ago — actually even before that — but I just got a note from Emmy and Linda saying that they had signed off on it, and so it is gonna happen.”
Although she has yet to learn of a release date for the compilation, Parton, who this summer is also celebrating the 30th anniversary of her Dollywood theme park in east Tennessee, says she expects it will arrive in stores later in the year.
The 1987 Trio album was a million-seller and earned two Grammy awards in country categories. The LP also earned an Album of the Year Grammy nod, but lost to U2’s The Joshua Tree. The 1999 follow-up was certified gold and also earned a Grammy. Tracks recorded for both sets later found their way onto the Harris CD box set, Songbird: Rare Tracks and Forgotten Gems.