"Crazy Heart" - Deluxe Soundtrack; "Lean & Mean"

Feb 14, 2010
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Thematic, great and authentic country, echoes the film

Cons:Burnett needed one Texas swing tune from Bob Wills to complete the picture. 

The Bottom Line: No track listing because of the "Lean & Mean" attempt.  Just a phenomenal CD if you love Texas country or loved the film. 

I've spent hours listening to the soundtrack from "Crazy Heart" after seeing the film. I have to admit, after watching the music credits, that I was itching to get my hands on the soundtrack, which is a remarkable collection of old and new. It includes songs from actors Jeff Bridges and Colin Farrell - who sung them in the movie, and road  songs by artists who have probably all had "Crazy Heart" experiences. The theme song "Weary on the Road" will hopefully wake a lot of people up to Ryan Bingham, who got his hard living lyrics from life on the road in the bull riding circuit. Bingham's "Mesacalito" from 2007 was a revelation.

The Crazy Heart deluxe version (digipak) has more songs than the regular soundtrack and a great series of photos in its liner booklet. But this is really about the music, not the packaging.  The late, great Stephen Bruton penned some of the original songs and co-produced with T. Bone Burnett. There are distinctive Burnett chops, some of that magic percussion, in the steady stream of consciousness from the music, and part of the soundtrack's charm is how you can close your eyes and see crazy Bad Blake from the film, cruising the dusty roads of Texas and New Mexico.

Highlights for me:

"Fallin' and Flyin'" is a great song and I loved best the version that Bridges and Farrell did together.

Bridges' solos:   tune into "Hold On You", Bruton's "Somebody Else", where both the lyrics and the country rock of the tune make it memorable (shut your eyes and you're in Texas) , and the end of the picture solo, "Brand New Angel".

Great re-releases that added to the barhop of Blake's venues in the movie: Thomas Canning's "Wesley's Piano"... beer bar blues, Lucinda William's "Joy", Townes Van Zandt's "If I Need You". You'll find  country classics by Buck Owen, the Louvin Brothers, and Waylon, as well, and a great song by the Tejano star, Lydia Mendoza, "Mal Hombre".

I discovered the amazing songwriter Sam Phillips, by, of all things, watching the "Gilmore Girls", which featured a lot of her music. One of the most eloquent of her songs from 2004 is "Reflecting Light". I marveled at the addition (she’s more pop than country), but T. Bone produced not only that CD, but had reproduced a lot of her older music in 2008 on "The Disappearing Act".  It resonates the theme:

"Now that I've worn out, I've worn out the world
I'm on my knees in fascination
Looking through the night
And the moon's never seen me before
But I'm reflecting light

I rode the pain down
Got off and looked up
Looked into your eyes
The lost open windows
All around
My dark heart lit up the skies"

The movie is an American classic tale of being down and out, with a masterful performance by Bridges  and I think you'll enjoy both movie and soundtrack more if you've experienced both.

Highly recommended.

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