Ever since the wonderful and very successful movie and soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, country music singers, songwriters and, most of all, the powers that be have had great respect for T Bone Burnett, who produced the music. Dear friends of mine such as the Whites, Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss, Dan Tyminski, Ralph Stanley and a bevy of others suddenly had something they'd never had before -- sizable bank accounts.
I remember when we all rushed to Franklin, Tenn., for a party honoring the singers, musicians and actors. The excitement in that room was contagious as Dan, Jerry and others donned beards and sang "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow." I recall how happy Mercury Records CEO Luke Lewis was during the occasion because they'd sold 500,000 copies of the soundtrack album. They had no idea what the future held.
The movie and soundtrack were nominated for virtually every award known to music and film -- including the CMA, ACM and Grammy awards -- and won most of them. Nashville had never seen anything quite like it. They kept on selling records until they reached an unbelievable number. In fact, it has sold 7.7 million copies and is currently No. 35 on Billboard's top catalog country albums chart.
I see T Bone Burnett in the news these days for producing Lisa Marie Presley's new album, Storm & Grace. How did this project come to be? Well, Hollywood didn't have a blooming thing to do with it.
From what I read in Entertainment Weekly, Burnett was intrigued that Elvis' daughter was making records. He thought it was a gutsy thing to do
"Being in the family business is complicated," he allowed.
As for Lisa Marie, the girl is a fan of music. Referring to T Bone's past projects, she said, "I don't know that there was an album that he did that I wasn't a fan of -- from Counting Crows to O Brother, Where Art Thou? to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' Raising Sand.
For her first album in seven years, Presley got rid of everybody involved in her musical past. She claims to be a singer and a songwriter. It seems to me that Lisa Marie may belong in Nashville, a place where the best songwriters on this earth do their chores. And keep T Bone around. He knows how to make old-school records that sell.