CRAZY HEART Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2010 NewWest)
Produced by T Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton
I grew up on this kind of music. I remember long drives to the cottage, singing away to the hits by Hank Jr., Hank Sr., Johnny, Willie, and Waylon…all those great artists. So to hear Jeff Bridges perform his character Bad Blake’s songs on this soundtrack is already in the ballpark of music I love. The great thing about this soundtrack is that it’s loaded with awesome original tunage such as “Fallin’ & Flying'” and “The Weary Kind”, but it also has great oldies by Townes, Buck and Waylon. There’s even a classic Lightnin’ Hopkins blues.
Buck Owens’ “Hello Trouble” (1964) is lyrically as apt as ever. Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” (1972) is laden with emotion within an inventive dual-track lead vocal. But it’s “Once A Gambler” by Hopkins that I am spellbound by. It’s shocking how vibrant this old recording is, and it’s gotta be 50 years old. Much like the singer’s name, the playing, singing and song itself are electrifying. You couldn’t record this better today with all the computers in the world.
Meanwhile, Jeff’s performance on “Somebody Else” is more rock n’ roll; this is an original tune by T Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton. It has a live sound to it. Bridges’ lead vocal edges into nasal territory, but the dude was 61 years old at the time. Another new tune, “I Don’t Know” by Ryan Bingham is firmly in 80’s Steve Earle territory, and that’s fine by me.
The main song from the soundtrack is “Fallin’ & Flying”, which appears twice: Once sung by Jeff, and once as a duet with his co-star Colin Ferrell. A couple years back, I sent Aaron a CD with the Jeff/Colin version of “Fallin’ & Flyin'” on it. His comment:
I saw Crazy Heart and I thought they did a fairly credible job, but I very rarely like it when Hollywood types do these types of films. Leave the singing to the singers (I’m looking at you, Gwenyth Paltrow!). Still, this Bridges/Ferrell track is roadhouse-worthy.
Sure, in some cases I would agree with that. Nobody needed Eddie Murphy to make an album for example. In the case of “Fallin’ & Flyin'”, I really like this track. It was written to suit Jeff’s leathery but expressive singing voice. Jeff Bridges is no slouch; I’m sure Kris Kristofferson taught him a few tricks when they jammed behind the scenes during Heaven’s Gate. Jeff’s slant on “I Don’t Know” is more country than Bingham’s and features piano and squeezebox. I believe I am well on record for being a fan of the Dude in the first place.
There’s only one tune I didn’t like, which is “Reflecting Light” by Sam Phillips (2004). Sorry Sam. It’s not you; it’s me.
My only regret is picking up the single disc version before I knew there was a double disc with even more tunes. At some point in the future I’ll trade up. I got this used, at Encore Records, so not a huge expense (I paid $10) and I can always trade up.