Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Groove-oriented classic Rock from T-Bone Burnett

T-Bone Burnett is one of those guys musicians like. His production credits are impressive, having worked with Counting Crows, Tony Bennett, k. d. lang, The Wallflowers, Elvis Costello, Roy Orbison, Cassandra Wilson, Bruce Cockburn, Sam Phillips, Spinal Tap (!), and Allison Krauss / Robert Plant. He is responsible for the movie soundtracks for O Brother Where Art Thou, Walk the Line, This Thing Called Love, The Ladykillers, Down from the Mountain, Don’t Come Knocking, and many more. Burnett is accomplished. He is a much sought after studio musician and has also released 10 studio albums full of original material. Dude is accomplished.

So I think it’s odd that while you’ve heard his name, you might be hard pressed to sing a few bars of any of his songs, right? The guy has lived and breathed music for most of his 61 years, has influenced a bunch of artists I respect, has produced a ton of music I love, but up until recently, I didn’t know any of his music.

Careful with that ax, Eugene.

Careful with that ax, Eugene.

You can pick up Twenty Twenty – The Essential T Bone Burnett and listen to a career-spanning collection, and I think you should, but today I’m going to recommend his 2006 release The True False Identity.

Burnett is a great songwriter with many tricks in his bag and he uses and blends them skillfully. Even the “fillers” are good songs and when he really sinks his teeth into telling a story, it’s a great success. The band playing with him is incredibly tight, but no one shows off. They all lay back and work toward a cohesive song rather than trying to add perhaps unnecessary flourishes. This effort is that of a master songwriter who knows exactly what sound he wants to produce and has all the tools at his disposal to make it happen.

I particularly like these 4 songs:

  • Palestine, Texas – You’ll have to turn this one up because it the sound was transferred very low for YouTube. The gimmicky lyrics are central to this song, but I love the dirty groove they lay down between verses.
  • Seven Times Hotter Than Fire – It’s the love he feels that is seven times hotter than fire. The guitar riff is simple, but he makes it rock. I think maybe that’s the secret of his genius: he is an absolute master at creating a groove so that even if this song is simple it has a real FEEL to it.
  • There Would Be Hell to Pay – It’s not a particularly edgy tune, but it is cool and the story he tells is compelling.
  • I’m Going on a Long Journey Never to Return – I’m not sure about the chorus of this song, but the verses are great. This one is mostly acoustic, but it still stomps around.

He has been part of other artists’ tribute albums. I wonder when someone will to a T-Bone Burnett tribute…



June 30, 2009 - Posted by | Blues, Classic Rock, Popular, Rock

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