O Brother, Where Art Thou? (soundtrack)

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O Brother, Where Art Thou?
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (soundtrack).jpg
Soundtrack album by various artists
ReleasedDecember 5, 2000 (2000-12-05)
Genre
Length61:24
LabelLost Highway/Mercury
ProducerT Bone Burnett

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is the soundtrack album of music from the 2000 American film of the same name, written, directed and produced by the Coen Brothers and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, and John Goodman.

With the film set in Mississippi during the Great Depression, the soundtrack, produced by T Bone Burnett, uses bluegrass, country, gospel, blues, and folk music appropriate to the time period. With the exception of a few vintage tracks (such as Harry McClintock's 1928 single "Big Rock Candy Mountain"), most tracks are modern recordings.

The soundtrack was reissued on August 23, 2011, with 14 new tracks that were not included in the original album, "including 12 previously unreleased cuts from music producer T Bone Burnett's O Brother sessions."[1]

Development and sound[edit]

The soundtrack was originally conceived as a major component of the film, not merely as a background or support. For this reason it was decided to record a soundtrack before filming.[2] T Bone Burnett was invited to design collections of music.[3] One member of The Stanley Brothers, Ralph Stanley, personally took part in recording the music for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, singing a cappella folk song O Death.[4][5][6]

There is a notable use of dirges and other macabre songs, a theme often recurring in Appalachian music,[7] such as in "O Death," "Lonesome Valley," "Angel Band," and "I Am Weary", in contrast to the bright, cheerful songs, like "Keep On the Sunnyside" and "In the Highways", in other parts of the film.

"I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" has five variations: two are used in the film, one in the music video, and two in the soundtrack. Two of the variations feature the verses being sung back-to-back, and the other three variations feature additional music between each verse.[8] The voices of the Soggy Bottom Boys were provided by Dan Tyminski (lead vocal on "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow"), Nashville songwriter Harley Allen, and the Nashville Bluegrass Band's Pat Enright.[9]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars [10]

The soundtrack CD became a best seller, certified 8 times Platinum as of October 2007[11] with sales of 7.9 million copies in the United States as of January 2015.[12] It won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2002, the Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals (for singer Dan Tyminski, whose voice overdubbed George Clooney's in the film on "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow", Nashville songwriter Harley Allen, and the Nashville Bluegrass Band's Pat Enright), and the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "O, Death" by Ralph Stanley.

In 2001, the album spent over 20 weeks on the Billboard Top Country Chart. It won the Album of the Year Award and Single of the Year Award for "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" won an award for single of the year at the Country Music Association Awards.[13] It also won the Album of the Year Award at the Academy of Country Music Awards and took home 2 International Bluegrass Music Awards: Album of the Year and Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year (for Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch on "I'll Fly Away").

Some of the artists on the soundtrack played a concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, which was recorded in the documentary film, Down from the Mountain.

In 2006, the album ranked #38 on CMT's 40 Greatest Albums in Country Music. In 2009, Rhapsody ranked it #8 on the "Country's Best Albums of the Decade" list.[14] Engine 145 Country Music Blog ranked it #5 on the "Country's Best Albums of the Decade" list.[15] In 2010, All Songs Considered, a program on NPR, included the soundtrack on their list of "The Decade's 50 Most Important Recordings."[16]

On August 23, 2011, a 10th anniversary edition was released featuring a bonus disc with 14 new tracks that were not included in the original album, all but two of which were previously unreleased songs from Burnett's original sessions.[17][18]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)ArtistLength
1."Po' Lazarus"traditionalJames Carter and the Prisoners4:31
2."Big Rock Candy Mountain"Harry McClintockHarry McClintock2:16
3."You Are My Sunshine"Jimmie Davis, Charles MitchellNorman Blake4:26
4."Down to the River to Pray"traditionalAlison Krauss2:55
5."I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" (radio station version)Dick BurnettThe Soggy Bottom Boys3:10
6."Hard Time Killing Floor Blues"Skip JamesChris Thomas King2:42
7."I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" (instrumental)BurnettNorman Blake4:28
8."Keep On the Sunny Side"Ada Blenkhorn, J. Howard EntwisleThe Whites3:33
9."I'll Fly Away"Albert E. BrumleyAlison Krauss, Gillian Welch3:57
10."Didn't Leave Nobody but the Baby"traditionalEmmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch1:57
11."In the Highways"Maybelle CarterThe Peasall Sisters1:35
12."I Am Weary (Let Me Rest)"Pete Roberts (Pete Kuykendall)The Cox Family3:13
13."I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" (instrumental)Ed HaleyJohn Hartford2:34
14."O Death"traditionalRalph Stanley3:19
15."In the Jailhouse Now"Blind Blake, Jimmie RodgersThe Soggy Bottom Boys3:34
16."I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" (with band)BurnettThe Soggy Bottom Boys4:16
17."Indian War Whoop" (instrumental)Hoyt MingJohn Hartford1:30
18."Lonesome Valley"traditionalThe Fairfield Four4:07
19."Angel Band"traditionalThe Stanley Brothers2:15
Total length:60:18

Personnel[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Album[edit]

Chart (2000–2002) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[19] 15
Canadian Albums Chart 3
French Albums (SNEP)[20] 9
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[21] 87
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[22] 14
U.S. Billboard 200 1
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 1
U.S. Billboard Top Soundtracks 1

Singles[edit]

Year Single US Country
2002 "Man of Constant Sorrow" 35

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[23] 4× Platinum 400,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[25] 8× Platinum 8,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Germain, David. New 'O Brother' set serves up more old-timey music Yahoo! News (August 22, 2011). Retrieved August 22, 2011
  2. ^ Ridley, Jim (May 22, 2000). "Talking with Joel and Ethan Coen about 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'". Nashville Scene. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  3. ^ "O Brother, why art thou so popular?". BBC News. February 28, 2002. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  4. ^ Ellison, Michael (June 18, 2001). "American high". The Guardian. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  5. ^ Kumer, Anita (September 9, 2008). "Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley Endorses Obama". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  6. ^ "Museum Honoring Music Legend Ralph Stanley Set to Open October 16". Ralph Stanley Museum. 2004. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  7. ^ McClatchy, Debbie (2000-06-27). "A Short History of Appalachian Traditional Music". Appalachian Traditional Music – A Short History. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  8. ^ Long, Roger J. (2006-04-09). ""O Brother, Where Art Thou?" entry page". Archived from the original on 2007-11-03. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
  9. ^ "Soggy Bottom Boys Hit the Top at 35th CMA Awards". Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  10. ^ O Brother, Where Art Thou? at AllMusic Allmusic Review
  11. ^ "Gold & Platinum". RIAA.
  12. ^ Jessen, Wade (January 29, 2015). "Luke Bryan's 'Party' Still Rocking, Sam Hunt's Album Holds at No. 1". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  13. ^ Price, Deborah; Stark, Phyllis (December 29, 2001). ""O Brother" One of Country's Biggest Success Stories". Billboard - the International Newsweekly of Music, Video and Home Entertainment. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  14. ^ "Country’s Best Albums of the Decade" Archived January 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  15. ^ Staff (December 10, 2009). "Top Country Albums of the Decade (#10-#1)". Engine 145. Archived from the original on October 24, 2014. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
  16. ^ "The Decade's 50 Most Important Recordings". NPR. November 16, 2009. Retrieved 2010. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  17. ^ Germain, David (August 22, 2011). "New 'O Brother' set serves up more old-timey music". Associated Press. Yahoo! News. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  18. ^ Lewis, Randy (August 23, 2011). "'O Brother,' is it 10 already?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  19. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Soundtrack – O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  20. ^ "Lescharts.com – Soundtrack – O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  21. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  22. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Soundtrack – O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  23. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Soundtrack – O Brother, Where Art Thou?". Music Canada. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  24. ^ "British album certifications – Soundtrack – O Brother, Where Art Thou?". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 24 August 2018. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type O Brother, Where Art Thou? in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  25. ^ "American album certifications – Soundtrack – O Brother, Where Art Thou?". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 24 August 2018. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]