In 1979, Emmylou Harris released “Blue Kentucky Girl” (named after a 1965 Loretta Lynn hit), an album with strong bluegrass overtones in an era of “crossover” country. Her record label (Warner Bros.) was understandably nervous about the project, but gave her the freedom to go through with it.
Harris herself told Billboard’s Kip Kirby that she believed the album had a contemporary freshness in its sound, capturing the feeling that comes from the “live” side of music. Emmylou’s instincts proved correct and the album was artistically and commercially successful. Her remake of the Drifters’ “Save The Last Dance For Me” ascended to #4 and the title track climbed to #6 (Loretta’s original version had reached #7 back in ’65). “Beneath Still Waters” got the nod as the third single.
Dallas Frazier had composed “Beneath Still Waters” in 1967 and instantly got a cut on it by George Jones. Dallas was one of Jones’ favorite writers, so much so that George once recorded an entire album of Dallas Frazier songs. He placed “Beneath Still Waters” on his “My Country” album in December, 1968. Two years later, the tune was issued as a single for the first time by Diana Trask, who took her version to #38.