T Bone Burnett Honored for Keeping True to Tradition
Producer T Bone Burnett may be best known for his appreciation of traditional music, such as the collection he pulled together for the mega-successful 'O Brother Where Art Thou' soundtrack or the music he co-wrote and produced for the hard-living, country wastrel Bad Blake in last year's Oscar-winning 'Crazy Heart,' but it turns out the 10-time Grammy winner loves the old way of recording too.
Wednesday night (February 9) in Los Angeles, Burnett was honored by the Producers & Engineers wing of the Recording Academy, the folks who put on the Grammy Awards. In a passionate speech, Burnett, who still record in analog, talked about how horrible digital music sounds and that the music industry has ceded its taste and decided that "people want convenience and don't care about the sound ... I don't want to make music for people who don't care about music." He then went on to call MP3s "a blight upon the soul of man."
Burnett veered from his prepared remarks and laughed at his own outspokenness. "I wrote it all down, but I got a little drunk. I have to be honest with you."
But the evening was also about celebrating the tremendous contributions Burnett has made to music. He was saluted in song by the Secret Sisters, who performed 'Sweet Hawaiian Chimes' by the DeZurik Sisters. They recently recorded the track with Burnett in Nashville for the forthcoming Bill Monroe biopic, 'Blue Moon of Kentucky.' The Secret Sisters' self-titled debut album came out on Burnett's new label, Beladroit, through Universal Republic, last fall.
Laura Rogers, who is half of the Secret Sisters with her sister Lydia, recently told The Boot that Burnett "is like a history book. It's just crazy. The first time we met him and the subsequent times we hung out with him, it wasn't just talking about our music. It was like him telling stories and this history that you forget even exists and sometimes you don't even know it exists."
The Boot talked with Burnett a few days prior to his receiving his honor and he revealed more about the 'Blue Moon' project and his love for Bill Monroe.
"We just recorded 50 some odd songs over Christmas. That was beautiful. One of the most amazing experiences of my life," he says. "We were recording all this Monroe material by all of the finest musicians of that genre, who all were close to Monroe and learned from him and have this sort of understanding of him. It was an incredible process because Bill Monroe made all that stuff up out of thin air.
"He called it the ancient sounds and he would spend all his time outside and he would listen to the wind and he would listen to all the sounds outside. All the leaves," Burnett continuies. "The animals, the way the earth sounds. When you listen to those things, you'll hear his music in them."
'Blue Moon of Kentucky' stars Peter Sarsgaard as the Father of Bluegrass. Del McCoury provides the singing voice for Monroe.