O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000) Soundtrack


O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000) Soundtrack
O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000) Soundtrack
O Brother, Where Art Thou? is the soundtrack album of music from the 2000 American film of the same name, written, produced, edited, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson, with John Goodman, Holly Hunter, and Charles Durning in supporting roles. Set in 1937 rural Mississippi during the Great Depression, the film’s story is a modern satire loosely based on Homer’s epic poem, Odyssey. The title of the film is a reference to the 1941 film Sullivan’s Travels, in which the protagonist (a director) wants to film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a fictional book about the Great Depression. The movie was one of the first to extensively use digital color correction, to give the film an autumnal, sepia-tinted look. The film received positive reviews, and the American folk music soundtrack won a Grammy for Album of the Year in 2001.
With the film set in Mississippi during the Great Depression, the soundtrack, produced by T Bone Burnett, uses bluegrass, country, gospel, blues, and folk music appropriate to the time period. With the exception of a few vintage tracks (such as Harry McClintock’s 1928 single “Big Rock Candy Mountain”), most tracks are modern recordings. The original band soon became popular after the film release and the country and folk musicians who were dubbed into the film, such as John Hartford, Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Chris Sharp, and others, joined together to perform the music from the film in a Down from the Mountain concert tour which was filmed for TV and DVD.
The soundtrack was reissued on August 23, 2011, with 14 new tracks that were not included in the original album, “including 12 previously unreleased cuts from music producer T Bone Burnett’s O Brother sessions.



Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Artist Length

1. “Po’ Lazarus”   traditional James Carter and the Prisoners 4:31
2. “Big Rock Candy Mountain”   Harry McClintock Harry McClintock 2:16
3. “You Are My Sunshine”   Jimmie Davis, Charles Mitchell Norman Blake 4:26
4. “Down to the River to Pray”   traditional Alison Krauss 2:55
5. “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” (radio station version) Dick Burnett The Soggy Bottom Boys 3:10
6. “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues”   Skip James Chris Thomas King 2:42
7. “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” (instrumental) Burnett Norman Blake 4:28
8. “Keep On the Sunny Side”   Ada Blenkhorn, J. Howard Entwisle The Whites 3:33
9. “I’ll Fly Away”   Albert E. Brumley Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch 3:57
10. “Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby”   traditional Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch 1:57
11. “In the Highways”   Maybelle Carter The Peasall Sisters 1:35
12. “I Am Weary (Let Me Rest)”   Pete Roberts (Pete Kuykendall) The Cox Family 3:13
13. “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” (instrumental) Ed Haley John Hartford 2:34
14. “O Death”   traditional Ralph Stanley 3:19
15. “In the Jailhouse Now”   Blind Blake, Jimmie Rodgers The Soggy Bottom Boys 3:34
16. “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” (with band) Burnett The Soggy Bottom Boys 4:16
17. “Indian War Whoop” (instrumental) Hoyt Ming John Hartford 1:30
18. “Lonesome Valley”   traditional The Fairfield Four 4:07
19. “Angel Band”   traditional The Stanley Brothers 2:15

O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000) Soundtrack
O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000) Soundtrack


‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ Soundtrack Grows With Age
By all rights, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” should have been no more than a cult classic when it was released a decade ago. The movie, made by indie film world heroes Joel and Ethan Coen, placed star George Clooney in the middle of a wacky Depression-era tale equal parts grand ambition and grand larceny, with a soundtrack full of old-time American music, the likes of which had received scant attention on commercial radio in half a century or more.
Far from quickly finding its way to the midnight movie circuit, “O Brother” turned into a surprise hit — as did the soundtrack album. Not only did the T Bone Burnett-produced CD sell millions of copies, but it won five Grammy Awards, including the overall album of the year award, trumping nominated works from such high-profile contenders as U2, Bob Dylan and OutKast.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time for American roots music,” said Robert Santelli, executive director of the Grammy Museum and author of the companion book to PBS’ “American Roots Music” series that surfaced in the midst of the “O Brother” phenomenon. “Even more so than the album, the film gave roots music, Americana music, whatever you want to call it, a face, and it gave it a story, a narrative, that you can attach these great songs to and bring them into the 21st century. And that’s what it did.”
O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000) Soundtrack
O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000) Soundtrack


A decade later, the “O Brother” soundtrack ranks as one of the 200 bestselling albums of all time, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. It’s been certified platinum eight times over for sales of more than 8 million copies.
“That was an extraordinary time,” Burnett said last week, gearing up for a 10th anniversary expanded reissue of the “O Brother” album, a two-disc set arriving in stores Tuesday with 17 extra tracks not contained on the original CD by artists such as John Hartford, Van Dyke Parks, Alan O’Bryant and Colin Linden.
“The picture came out in two theaters right around Christmas (in 2000),” he said with a chuckle. “Just as we turned the picture in, the president of Disney who signed the picture stepped down, and the people who were coming in didn’t have any idea what the picture was. After they first showed it to the new studio people, there was dead silence. Everybody had to consider what it was. I think they just had no idea what was going on.”
To the new regime’s credit, they didn’t torpedo the film they’d inherited, and it soon began to build a following by word of mouth.
“At some point in January,” Burnett recalled, “the record started selling like crazy, then the movie started picking up. The two things started … there was an arc between the two things that was beneficial to both of them.”
It was unprecedented for an album consisting predominantly of songs that were 50, 60 or in some cases more than 100 years old to reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. “O Brother,” however, spent two weeks there, and remained on the chart for nearly two years.
Santelli notes that “O Brother” came more as the culmination than the catalyst for a groundswell of interest in roots music evident in the 1990s. The decade saw an explosion of music festivals dedicated to country, folk, bluegrass, blues, jazz, Cajun, zydeco and other forms of traditional American music.
Nevertheless, the film and the album introduced millions of new listeners to the rootsy music of artists such as Alison Krauss and her band, Union Station, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, the Cox Family, John Hartford, the Fairfield Four and others that Burnett rounded up for the project.
An album celebrating traditional American culture may have served as a salve for many in the country who were looking for comfort and reassurance in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Elvis Costello said that when Ralph Stanley stood up on that pedestal in middle of the audience (at the Grammy Awards show in 2002) and sang ‘O Death,’ that was the truest American response to the 9/11 attacks,” Burnett said. “I thought that was an interesting observation, and I couldn’t say it was wrong.
“Certainly for me it was,” he said. “I do think there was (relevance) in all that history, all those songs, all those stories we’ve passed on and on over time.”
Burnett was involved in another left-field success more recently, when the film for which he was executive producer, “Crazy Heart,” snowballed from nearly being relegated to direct-to-cable release into an Academy Award winner. Burnett said a similar spirit was at the heart of both, in which participants signed on more out of affection for the material than for its marketplace potential.
“Listening to the original album again reminded me of what a beautiful spirit it always was,” he said. “You can feel the vibe all the way through.”
By Randy Lewis
Los Angeles Times (MCT)
23 August 2011