Plenty of films have soundtracks that surpass the critical success of their movie, but the album for 'O Brother Where Art Thou' was a whole different monster. Not only did the record sell more than eight million copies worldwide, it won the 2001 Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
Recently, music producer/archivist T Bone Burnett sat down with HuffPost Culture to discuss his role in picking the music for the film, the process of recording it and, most importantly, whether George Clooney has a good voice.
A few of Burnett's choice quotes are below. If you are a big 'O Brother' fan (of the film or movie), head on over to HuffPost Culture to read the entire piece.
What it was like working on the film
'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' became much more than a killer gig. It was a fulfillment of a life of chasing down the old music without ever knowing where it was leading me. We were tapping into a beautiful and powerful musical stream. What is often called Bluegrass may have been in the middle of this stream, but it's all part of a long history that includes everyone from Duke Ellington to Lefty Frizzell, from Billie Holiday to Elvis Presley, and maybe most of all, to Louis Armstrong. This stream we explored is the extraordinary music of the last century -- an incredible treasure that comes to us directly from an age when music was made by everyone. It was analogue. It was made before the rise of the machines.
On choosing the movie's top song, 'Man of Constant Sorrow'
We recorded the music before the movie. The first song we had to get was "Man Of Constant Sorrow." The song is, of course, a standard -- there are probably fifty versions of it. The version we used for our template was the version the Stanley Brothers had done with two singers answering the last line of every verse -- which is, of course, comedic and paradoxical as the tune is about a tore-down, blown-out cat with these other voices attesting to the veracity of his tragic state of affairs. Somehow this song captured the tone of the movie--epic and dead serious on the one hand and comic and affable on the other.
On George Clooney singing 'Man of Constant Sorrow'
As many people know, Dan Tyminski from Alison Krauss and Union Station sang "Man Of Constant Sorrow" in an original and soulful way on the soundtrack. He also wrote and played the guitar part that gave the song a new life. But just for the record, George Clooney is a very good singer. We'd already recorded Dan singing the song to find an arrangement and, at the very least, give George something to work with. If there had been more time to get George up to speed, he could have sung that song himself.