T Bone Burnett
Photo: Rachel Murray/WireImage.com
'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Soundtrack: For The Record
Sometimes, the marriage of music to a film is so brilliantly executed that it's impossible to imagine that film without said music.
That's certainly the case with the 2000 Coen Brothers' film, O Brother, Where Art Thou? With loose parallels to Homer's "Odyssey," the film is set in Depression-era rural Mississippi in 1937, with the plot centering three convicts, including Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney), who escape from a chain gang and journey homeward to get their hands on some stolen bank money.
T Bone Burnett, a musician's musician, was tapped to produce the soundtrack designed to feature bluegrass, country, gospel, blues, and folk music to appropriately represent the time period. The result is a stunningly fun collection of songs that ably supports the film's offbeat comedy.
Enlisting an all-star collective, Burnett churned out an authentic mix of sterling tracks, including Alison Krauss' angelic reading of the traditional "Down To The River To Pray"; Norman Blake's uplifting "You Are My Sunshine"; Chris Thomas King's rootsy "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues"; Ralph Stanley's bone-chilling "O Death"; and Krauss, Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris teaming for another traditional song, "Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby."
Not only did the soundtrack top the Billboard 200 album chart, it emerged a big winner at the 44th GRAMMY Awards in 2002. The 19-song set took Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media honors, while Burnett scooped up Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical and Stanley earned took Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "O Death."
The cherry on top of the proverbial sundae? Following Saturday Night Fever and The Bodyguard, the O Brother …. soundtrack became just the third film soundtrack to win the coveted Album Of The Year GRAMMY.
"This version of this epic had a happy ending of sorts, and then one happy ending after another," said Burnett during his acceptance. "But not even minds as elliptical as the Coen Brothers could have written this ending."