With all the performing celebrities and glittering pomp and circumstance of The Smith Center’s gala opening, there were naturally a lot of long, slow songs displaying exceptional vocal chords and sparkling acoustics (Jennifer Hudson’s epic “Take Care of This House” is probably still echoing in Reynolds Hall’s high ceilings). These performances were magnificent, but they often seemed more geared toward proving a point—Bow down, New York City, The Smith Center has arrived!—than getting into the joy that our new venue will provide.
Then came Emmylou Harris. The folk-country goddess’ rollicking cover of Gram Parson’s “Ooh Las Vegas” made The Smith Center our own. With the help of Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, she celebrated all aspects of our city, not just the proper parts: Ooh, Las Vegas/Ain’t no place for a poor girl like me/Every time I hit your crystal city/You know you’re gonna make a wreck outta me. And it sounded fantastic.