T-Bone Burnett: Wikis


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T Bone Burnett

T Bone Burnett, 2007
Background information
Birth name Joseph Henry Burnett
Born January 14, 1948 (1948-01-14) (age 62)
Origin Born St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Raised Fort Worth, Texas U.S.
Genres Rock & roll
Alternative Country
Occupations Singer-songwriter, Producer
Years active 1972–present
Labels Universal (1972–1976; 1986–1988)
Arista (1976–1980)
Takoma (1980–1982)
Warner Bros. (1982–1984)
Demon (1984–1986)
Columbia (1988–present)
DMZ (2006–present)
Website TBoneBurnett.com

Joseph Henry "T Bone" Burnett (born January 14, 1948) is an American songwriter, musician and producer.

In addition to his solo work, Burnett has produced artists such as the BoDeans, Counting Crows, Tony Bennett and k.d. lang on the A Wonderful World album and The Wallflowers on Bringing Down the Horse. Burnett won Grammy Awards for the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack and for his work with Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. He was nominated for an Oscar for his songwriting contribution to the film Cold Mountain, and won an Oscar for Best Original Song for "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart. He founded the record label DMZ, an imprint of Columbia, and was involved with Mark Heard and Tonio K in the short-lived What? Records. He also oversaw the music for the films Walk the Line and The Big Lebowski.

Burnett's songs have been covered by such artists as k.d. lang ("Till the Heart Caves In"), Los Lobos, Sixpence None the Richer ("Carry You"), Tonio K, Emmylou Harris, Mark Heard ("Power of Love"), Arlo Guthrie, Warren Zevon, Peter Case, and B. J. Thomas.


Early life and musical career

Burnett was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1948, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas.[1] He moved to Los Angeles and recorded his first album, The B-52 Band and the Fabulous Skylarks, in 1972.[1] In 1975 and 1976, he toured with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue.[1] When the Revue ended, Burnett and two other members of Dylan's band, David Mansfield and Steven Soles, formed The Alpha Band.[1] The Alpha Band released three albums, The Alpha Band in 1977, Spark In The Dark in 1977, and The Statue Makers of Hollywood in 1978.

Solo career

In 1980 he released his first post-Alpha Band solo album, Truth Decay on the Takoma Records label. Truth Decay was a roots rock album described by the Rolling Stone Record Guide as "mystic Christian blues."

In 1982 his Trap Door EP, released on the Warner Brothers label, yielded the FM radio hit "I Wish You Could Have Seen Her Dance". Burnett toured after the release of Trap Door, opening several dates for The Who and leading a band that featured Mick Ronson on guitar.

His 1983 album Proof Through the Night (whose song "When the Night Falls" got some FM airplay) and his 1987 album The Talking Animals were more in the vein of 1980s new wave music, while his self-titled 1986 album was an album of acoustic country music. His 1992 album The Criminal Under My Own Hat tended toward adult album alternative music. All were critically acclaimed but not big sellers commercially.

Proof Through The Night was reissued by Rhino Records' Handmade Music in a limited edition of 5,000 on May 29, 2007, in an expanded version. The double CD also included the EPs Trap Door and Behind The Trap Door.[2]

Burnett released two albums in 2006: The True False Identity, his first album of new songs since 1992, and Twenty Twenty - The Essential T Bone Burnett, a 40 song career retrospective.

Production and other professional activities

Burnett has become best known as a music producer. Burnett began producing albums for artists like Counting Crows' August and Everything After, Los Lobos' How Will the Wolf Survive?, Elvis Costello's King of America and Spike, the Wallflowers' Bringing Down the Horse, Marshall Crenshaw's Downtown, Spinal Tap's Break Like The Wind, the BoDeans' Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams, Gillian Welch's Revival and Hell Among the Yearlings, David Poe's self-titled debut, the Roy Orbison tribute A Black & White Night Live, two albums for Bruce Cockburn, and nearly everything released by his former wife, Sam Phillips (previously known as Leslie Phillips).

In 1985, Burnett collaborated with Elvis Costello on a single called "The People's Limousine", under the moniker "The Coward Brothers."

In 1987, Burnett produced Roy Orbison's two-record album, In Dreams: The Greatest Hits. After that, he was the musical director and a guitarist for Orbison's HBO television special, Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night.

In 1997, Burnett created new songs for the Sam Shepard play The Tooth of Crime: Second Dance, which premiered in New York City the same year in an off-Broadway production that featured Vincent D'Onofrio and Kirk Acevedo. A CD of these songs, Tooth of Crime, was released in May 2008, featuring guitarist Marc Ribot and backing vocals by Sam Phillips and singer/songwriter David Poe, whose self-titled debut Burnett also produced that year. According to Burnett, he was inspired by the music of Skip James while composing the songs for the updated version of Shepard's play.[3]

In April 2006, he announced that his first concert tour in nearly two decades would begin on May 16 in Chicago at The Vic Theater. Around the same time, jazz singer Cassandra Wilson released an album of blues songs, Thunderbird (2006), which was produced by Burnett. He also wrote one of the album's songs and co-wrote another with Ethan Coen. Burnett also produced music for the remake of the film All the King's Men.

In 2006, Burnett produced Brandi Carlile's The Story album, the title song of which became a minor hit and was featured on a special broadcast of ABC-TV's Grey's Anatomy. Carlile's guitarist and bassist, twins Tim and Phil Hanseroth, respectively, used instruments from Burnett's private collection during the unique "live" recordings in Vancouver, B.C.

T Bone Burnett on stage at Birmingham's NIA, 5th May 2008 as part of a concert by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant

In early 2007, Burnett earned nominations for two 2006 Grammy Awards, one as Producer Of The Year for his work on Cassandra Wilson's Thunderbird album, the soundtrack to Walk the Line and his own The True False Identity. Walk the Line was nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. Burnett earned another nomination for his efforts as Executive Music Producer and Album Producer on that soundtrack.

October 2007 saw the release of the Grammy winning, Burnett-produced Raising Sand, a collaborative album featuring Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. Burnett plays guitar on 10 of the 13 tracks.

In early 2008, Pete Townshend announced that Burnett was to go into the studio that fall to help produce an all covers album for The Who.[4] However, on a May 15, 2008, episode of the NPR radio show, All Songs Considered, Burnett threw that project into question. He stated that in a blog, Townshend had indicated that he was putting all his projects on hold.[5]

In 2008, it was reported that Burnett "started a new venture called Code, which aims to do for music what THX did for movie-theater sound: set standards that ensure the best possible quality."[6] He is opposed to the trend of brighter and more compressed processing, sufficiently so that he essentially retired from the music business in 1995-96 and took up an opportunity to work in theater with Sam Shepard, leading to his work on several films.[7] Code involves the simultaneous release of multiple sound formats, thus avoiding much of the processing which happens when sound is converted from one format to another. Burnett produced John Mellencamp's album Life, Death, Love and Freedom, which was the first Code album when it was released on July 15, 2008.[6] Burnett is also producing Mellencamp's follow-up to Life, Death, Love and Freedom, tentatively titled No Better Than This.

In 2009, Burnett produced albums for Moonalice and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.[8] In that same year, he has also produced Elvis Costello's album, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane as well as co-writing the song "Sulfur to Sugarcane" with Costello.[9]

While on tour in 2009, Steve Earle stated onstage that T Bone Brunett will produce his upcoming record (set to be recorded in 2010).

Burnett is producing a collaboration album by Elton John and Leon Russell. John, Russell, and Bernie Taupin (John's lyricist) wrote songs together in late 2009. The album is scheduled to be recorded in January 2010, and is due to be released later in 2010.

Work in films

In 1992, he worked some songs with his friend River Phoenix for the movie The Thing Called Love. He was the coach of Samantha Mathis.

In 2000, Burnett produced the soundtrack and wrote the score for the Coen Brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. The award-winning soundtrack featured music from Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Ralph Stanley, Gillian Welch, and others performing traditional American folk music, blues and bluegrass — reminiscent of Burnett's 1986 self-titled release. The album was a smash, garnering numerous industry awards from the Grammys, Academy of Country Music, and the Country Music Association. The album was as much a commercial success as a critical one and has sold over seven million copies according to the Recording Industry Association of America. A documentary film, Down from the Mountain, was made of a benefit concert of the soundtrack performed by the artists on the album; Burnett figures prominently in the film. His production on the soundtrack albums for these two films, plus his wife Sam Phillips' Fan Dance album, led to his winning the 2002 Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. Burnett went on to produce the less popular gospel soundtrack to the Coen's The Ladykillers.

In 2004, under his name "Henry Burnett", he wrote "I Wish My Baby Was Born", "Like a Songbird That Has Fallen", and "The Scarlet Tide" for the movie Cold Mountain. "The Scarlet Tide," co-written with Elvis Costello and performed by Alison Krauss, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song and won the BAFTA Anthony Asquith Award for Achievement in Film Music. In 2005, he composed the score for Wim Wenders' film Don't Come Knocking.

In 2005, he worked with actors Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon for their singing roles as Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash in the film Walk the Line. He also produced that film's soundtrack album and wrote its score.

In 2009, Burnett collaborated on music for the movie Crazy Heart, winning both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for the song "The Weary Kind" that he composed with Ryan Bingham.

Awards and accolades

In January 7, 1993 Burnett was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album for The Criminal Under My Own Hat.

On February 27, 2002 Burnett won four Grammy's for his work on the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou, in the categories of Album Of The Year, Best Traditional Folk Album and Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media. He was also awarded the Grammy as Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical.

On February 23, 2003 Burnett won a Grammy in the category of Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for his work on A Wonderful World from Tony Bennett and k.d. lang.

On January 27, 2004 Burnett was nominated for an Academy Award, along with Elvis Costello in the category of Best Original Song for “The Scarlet Tide” from the film, Cold Mountain. For his work on that film, Burnett also earned the Anthony Asquith Award for Achievement in Film Music from The British Academy Of Film And Televison Arts (BAFTA).

On February 8, 2006 Burnett won a Grammy in the category of Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media, for his work on Walk The Line.

On February 8, 2009 Burnett was awarded Grammys for Album Of The Year and Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album for his work on the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss album, Raising Sand; Record Of The Year for his work on "Please Read The Letter", also from Raising Sand, and Best Traditional Blues Album for his work on B.B. King's One Kind Favor.

On December 2, 2009 Burnett was nominated for Grammy Awards in the categories of Best Americana Album for his work on the Robert Plant, for his work on Elvis Costello's Secret, Profane And Sugarcane, and Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical.

On December 10, 2009 Burnett was presented with the Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing, for his work on Crazy Heart, at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

On December 20, 2009 Burnett won a Satellite Award from the International Press Academy in the category of Original Song for writing "The Weary Kind", from Crazy Heart, with Ryan Bingham.

On January 15, 2010 Burnett and Ryan Bingham were awarded the prize for Best Song at the 15th annual Critics’ Choice Awards on Friday night. The awards are bestowed annually by the Broadcast Film Critics Association to honor the finest in cinematic achievement. Burnett and Bingham won the award for writing "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart.

On January 16, 2010 Burnett and his longtime friend and collaborator on Crazy Heart, Stephen Bruton, were awarded Best Music Score honors for their work on that film by The Los Angeles Film Critics Association at their 35th Annual Awards Ceremony. Stephen died on May 9, 2009, shortly after completing work on the film.

On January 17, 2010 Burnett and Ryan Bingham were awarded a Golden Globe in the category of Best Original Song for "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart.

On January 26, 2010 Burnett and Crazy Heart collaborator Stephen Bruton were nominated by the The British Academy Of Film And Televison Arts (BAFTA) for the Anthony Asquith Award for Achievement in Film Music.

On March 5, 2010 Burnett and fellow Crazy Heart producers Robert Duvall, Rob Carliner and Judy Cairo, along with director Scott Cooper, received Best First Feature honors at the 25th annual Independent Spirit Awards.

On March 7, 2010 Burnett and Ryan Bingham won an Academy Award in the category of Best Original Song for "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart.

Artist discography

Project Release Date
Tooth of Crime 2008
Twenty Twenty - The Essential T Bone Burnett 2006
The True False Identity 2006
The Criminal Under My Own Hat 1992
The Talking Animals 1987
T-Bone Burnett 1986
Behind the Trap Door (EP) 1984
Proof Through the Night 1983
Trap Door (EP) 1982
Truth Decay 1980
The B-52 Band & The Fabulous Skylarks 1972


Project Song Release Date
Until the End of the World Humans from Earth 1991
Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye - Tribute to Roky Erickson Nothing In Return 1990

Alpha Band discography

Project Release Date
The Statue Makers of Hollywood 1978
Spark in the Dark 1977
Alpha Band 1977

Record production discography

Project Artist Credit Release Date
Ghost Brothers Of Darkland County Soundtrack Producer 2010
No Better Than This John Mellencamp Producer 2010
TBD Steve Earle Producer 2010
TBD Gregg Allman Producer 2010
TBD Robert Randolph Producer 2010
Country Music Willie Nelson Producer 4/13/2010
Women and Country Jakob Dylan Producer 4/6/2010
Crazy Heart Soundtrack Producer 1/19/2010
Secret, Profane & Sugarcane Elvis Costello Producer 6/2/2009
Moonalice Moonalice Producer 4/14/2009
One Kind Favor B.B. King Producer 8/26/2008
akiko Akiko Yano Producer 10/22/2008
Life, Death, Love and Freedom John Mellencamp Producer 7/15/2008
Raising Sand Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Producer 10/23/2007
Across The Universe Soundtrack Producer 9/14/2007
The Story Brandi Carlile Producer 4/3/2007
Thunderbird Cassandra Wilson Producer 4/4/2006
Walk The Line Soundtrack Producer 11/15/2005
Future Perfect Autolux Producer 10/26/2004
A Boot and a Shoe Sam Phillips Producer 4/27/2004
The Ladykillers Soundtrack Producer 3/23/2004
Ollabelle Ollabelle Producer 3/9/2004
Cold Mountain Soundtrack Producer 12/16/2003
The Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood Soundtrack Producer 5/28/2002
Ralph Stanley Ralph Stanley Producer 6/11/2002
A Wonderful World Tony Bennett & k.d. lang Producer 11/5/2002
Motherland Natalie Merchant Producer 11/13/2001
Fan Dance Sam Phillips Producer 7/31/2001
O Brother Where Art Thou? Soundtrack Producer 12/5/2000
Come to Where I'm From Joseph Arthur Producer 4/11/2000
Blue Days Black Nights Freedy Johnston Producer, Optigan 7/20/1999
Songs from the Pipe The Surfers Producer 7/21/1998
Hell Among The Yearlings Gillian Welch Producer 7/28/1998
Horse Whisperer Soundtrack Producer 6/2/1998
Electro-Shock Blues Eels Producer 10/20/1998
Clay Pigeons Clay Pigeons Producer 9/22/1998
Ole' Tonio K Producer 12/23/1997 (recorded 1990)
David Poe David Poe Bass, Ukulele, Producer, Fuzz bass, Drones 9/23/1997
Omnipop (It's Only a Flesh Wound Lambchop) Sam Phillips Producer, Loops 8/20/1996
Stealing Beauty Soundtrack Producer 5/28/1996
Bringing Down the Horse Wallflowers Producer 5/21/1996
Revival Gillian Welch Producer 4/9/1996
Sweetie Daniel Tashian Guitar, Producer 3/26/1996
Braver Newer World Jimmie Dale Gilmore Guitar, Producer, Mixing 6/25/1996
Jackopierce Jackopierce Producer 2/14/1995
Pretty Little Lonely Michael Petak Producer 8/16/1994
Martinis & Bikinis Sam Phillips Producer 3/8/1994
Dart to the Heart Bruce Cockburn Producer 3/1/1994
Go Slow Down BoDeans Producer, Engineer, Executive Producer 10/12/1993
August and Everything After Counting Crows Guitar, Producer 9/14/1993
A. J. Croce A. J. Croce Producer 5/25/1993
Five Easy Pieces Dirty Looks Producer 11/10/1992
Lily Wendy Matthews Producer 9/28/1992
Break Like the Wind Spinal Tap Producer, Mixing 3/17/1992
Until the End of the World Soundtrack Vocals, Producer 12/10/1991
Cruel Inventions Sam Phillips Guitar, producer, Chamberlin 5/28/1991
Live Two Five Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Producer 7/16/1991
Nothing but a Burning Light Bruce Cockburn Producer 11/5/1991
Shuffletown Joe Henry Guitar, Percussion, Producer, Drums 8/31/1990
My Father's Face Leo Kottke Organ, Guitar, Producer 10/25/1990
Mystery Girl Roy Orbison Guitar, Producer 2/1/1989
Spike Elvis Costello Guitar, Bass, Producer 2/14/1989
Black & White Night: Live Roy Orbison Guitar, Producer 10/23/1989
The Indescribable Wow Sam Phillips Guitar, Producer 8/9/1988
By The Light of the Moon Los Lobos Producer 7/7/1987
The Turning Leslie Phillips Guitar, Producer 1987
Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams BoDeans Guitar, Producer 5/1/1986
King of America The Costello Show Guitar, Producer 2/21/1986
Romeo Unchained Tonio K. Guitar, Drums, Producer 1986
Peter Case Peter Case Guitar, Producer 1986
Downtown Marshall Crenshaw Sitar, Producer 9/16/1985
How Will the Wolf Survive? Los Lobos Organ, Guitar, Producer 1/1/1984
Time Step Leo Kottke Producer 5/1/1983
Delbert & Glen Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark Producer 1972
Live at the New Bluebird Nightclub Robert Ealey and His Five Careless Lovers Producer 1970
The Legendary Stardust Cowboy The Legendary Stardust Cowboy Producer and Drums 1968
The Van Dykes The Van Dykes Producer 1966

Film and television discography

Project Medium Credit Release Date
Tough Trade TV Series Executive Producer, Music Producer, Composer 2010
Crazy Heart Film Producer, Songwriter, Composer 12/19/2009
Across The Universe Film Music Producer 10/12/2007
All The King's Men Film Executive Music Producer 9/22/2006
Walk The Line Film Executive Music Producer, Composer 11/18/2005
Don't Come Knocking Film Executive Music Producer, Composer 8/25/2005
The Ladykillers Film Executive Music Producer 3/26/2004
Cold Mountain Film Executive Music Producer 12/25/2003
The Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood Film Composer 6/7/2002
O Brother Where Art Thou? Film Music Producer, Original Music 12/22/2000
The Big Lebowski Film Musical Archivist 3/6/1998
Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night TV Special Musical Director 1/3/1988


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