Joseph Henry "T Bone" Burnett III (born January 14, 1948) is an American musician, songwriter, and soundtrack and record producer. He was a touring guitarist in Bob Dylan's band on the Rolling Thunder Revue. After the tour ended, Burnett and two other members of the backing band formed The Alpha Band, followed by his first solo album in 1980.
Burnett has produced artists such as Autolux, Roy Orbison, Lisa Marie Presley, John Mellencamp, Los Lobos, Counting Crows, Elton John and Leon Russell, BoDeans, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, M2M, Natalie Merchant and The Wallflowers as well as Tony Bennett and k.d. lang on the A Wonderful World album. 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 Academy Award for his songwriting contribution to the film Cold Mountain, and won an Academy Award 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 oversaw the music for the films Walk the Line, The Big Lebowski, and Inside Llewyn Davis, and the True Detective TV series.
Early life and musical career
Burnett, the son of Joseph Henry Burnett Jr. and Hazel Perkins Burnett, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1948, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. He attended R. L. Paschal High School, and is featured in the school's Hall of Honor. He played rhythm guitar in a band called the Shadows. His first significant contribution to the music field was as the manic drummer for the Legendary Stardust Cowboy's novelty hit, "Paralyzed."
He first appeared on The Unwritten Works of Geoffrey, Etc. as part of the pseudonymous Whistler, Chaucer, Detroit and Greenhill, released in 1968 on Uni Records and on which he also produced and wrote 4 of the 11 tracks. Also in 1968, he produced 6 songs for a group of friends, called at the time, "The Case Hardy Boys". Later this band would move to Los Angeles and become known first as "The Fare", and later as "El Roacho", and would have songs produced by Burnett and Daniel Moore (who sang on Burnett's most recent album), as well as Steve Katz. In 1972, he moved to Los Angeles and recorded his second album, The B-52 Band and the Fabulous Skylarks. In 1975 and 1976, he toured with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue.
When the Revue ended, Burnett and two other members of Dylan's band, David Mansfield and Steven Soles, formed The Alpha Band, which released three albums. The Alpha Band and Spark in the Dark were both released in 1977, while The Statue Makers of Hollywood was released in 1978.
Burnett and singer-songwriter Sam Phillips were married in 1989 and divorced in 2004. He produced many of her albums, including Martinis and Bikinis and Cruel Inventions. He is currently married to writer-producer Callie Khouri. Burnett has three daughters, including one from his marriage to Phillips.
In 1980, Burnett released his first post–Alpha Band solo album, Truth Decay, produced by Reggie Fisher, 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 (also produced by Reggie Fisher), 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, 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.
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. In 2006, he released two albums. The True False Identity was his first album of new songs since 1992, and Twenty Twenty – The Essential T Bone Burnett was a 40-song career retrospective.
Production and other professional activities
Burnett began producing albums for artists such as 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; 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, who has also performed under the name Leslie Phillips.
In 1985, Burnett collaborated with Elvis Costello on a single titled "The People's Limousine," using the moniker "The Coward Brothers." In 1987, he produced Roy Orbison's two-record album, In Dreams: The Greatest Hits and two songs of Mystery Girl. In 1997, he created new songs for the Sam Shepard play The Tooth of Crime: Second Dance, which premiered in New York City, during 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.
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. He 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, British Columbia. 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.
In October 2007, the Grammy-winning, Burnett-produced Raising Sand, a collaborative album featuring Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, was released. Burnett plays guitar on ten 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. However, on a May 15, 2008, episode of the NPR radio show All Songs Considered, Burnett threw that project into question. He stated that Townshend had indicated in a blog that he was putting all his projects on hold.
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." He is opposed to the trend of brighter and more compressed processing, sufficiently so, that he essentially retired from the music business around 1995–1996 and pursued an opportunity to work in theater with Sam Shepard, leading to his work on several films.
The audio format known as 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. Burnett also produced Mellencamp's follow-up to Life, Death, Love and Freedom, titled No Better Than This.
In 2009, Burnett produced albums for Moonalice and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. In that same year, he also produced Elvis Costello's album, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane as well as co-writing the song "Sulfur to Sugarcane" with Costello.
Burnett produced 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, The Union, was recorded in January 2010 and released in October 2010.
In 2010, Burnett produced Gregg Allman's album Low Country Blues (released in January 2011).
Burnett started production in January 2011 on Lisa Marie Presley's third album, Storm and Grace, in Los Angeles. The album was released on May 15, 2012.
In 2014, Burnett worked on the production of the forthcoming album by the Punch Brothers.
Work in films
In 1992, Burnett worked on 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 hit, garnering numerous industry awards from the Grammys, Academy of Country Music, and the Country Music Association. The album was a commercial success and sold almost eight million copies, according to Billboard.
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. For producing the soundtrack albums for these two films, and for his wife Sam Phillips's album Fan Dance, Burnett won 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 the name "Henry Burnett", he arranged "I Wish My Baby Was Born" and wrote "Like a Songbird That Has Fallen" and "Scarlet Tide" for the movie Cold Mountain. "Scarlet Tide", co-written with Elvis Costello and performed by Alison Krauss, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song and won BAFTA's Anthony Asquith Award for Achievement in Film Music.
In 2005, he composed the score for Wim Wenders's 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. Witherspoon won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the film, giving special thanks to Burnett in her speech for "helping her realize her lifelong dream of being a country music singer". He also produced that film's soundtrack album and wrote its score.
In 2009, Burnett collaborated on music for the movie Crazy Heart, winning a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, and a Grammy Award for the song "The Weary Kind", which he composed with Ryan Bingham. Burnett was also a producer of the film, along with Jeff Bridges and Robert Duvall.
In 2013, he was Executive Music Producer for the Coen brothers' film Inside Llewyn Davis.
Awards and accolades
On January 27, 2004, Burnett was nominated for an Academy Award, along with Elvis Costello, in the category of Best Original Song, for "Scarlet Tide", from the film Cold Mountain. On March 7, 2010, Burnett and Ryan Bingham won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart.
BAFTA Anthony Asquith Award
On January 26, 2010, Burnett and Crazy Heart collaborator Stephen Bruton received BAFTA's Anthony Asquith Award for Achievement in Film Music for their work on Cold Mountain.
Critics Choice Awards
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.
Frederick Loewe Award
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.
Golden Globe Awards
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 December 13, 2012, Burnett, Taylor Swift and John-Paul White and Joy Williams of The Civil Wars were nominated in the category of Best Original Song for "Safe And Sound" from The Hunger Games.
On January 7, 1993, Burnett was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Contemporary Folk Album for The Criminal Under My Own Hat. On February 27, 2002, Burnett won four Grammys 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, for his work on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, the Down from the Mountain soundtrack, and the album Fan Dance by his wife, Sam Phillips.
On February 23, 2003, Burnett won a Grammy in the category of Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for his work on A Wonderful World. On February 8, 2006, Burnett won a Grammy in the category of Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a 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 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 a Grammy in the categories of Best Contemporary Folk Album and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, for his work on Elvis Costello's Secret, Profane & Sugarcane.
On January 13, 2011, Burnett was awarded Grammys in the categories of Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media, for his work on Crazy Heart, and Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media, along with Stephen Bruton, for "The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart)".
On December 5, 2012, Burnett was nominated twice in the Grammy category of Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media; with Win Butler & Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire for the song "Abraham's Daughter", and with Taylor Swift, John-Paul White and Joy Williams (The Civil Wars) for "Safe and Sound", both from The Hunger Games.
Independent Spirit Awards
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.
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award
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. Bruton died on May 9, 2009, shortly after completing work on the film.
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.
|A Place at the Table||2013|
|T-Bone Burnett Presents The Speaking Clock Revue: Live from the Beacon Theatre||2011|
|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|
|Behind the Trap Door (EP)||1984|
|Proof Through the Night||1983|
|Trap Door (EP)||1982|
|The B-52 Band & the Fabulous Skylarks||1972|
|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
|The Statue Makers of Hollywood||1978|
|Spark in the Dark||1977|
Record production discography
|The Phosphorescent Blues||Punch Brothers||Executive Producer||January 27, 2015|
|Plain Spoken||John Mellencamp||Executive Producer||September 23, 2014|
|Ghostlight||Betty Buckley||Producer||September 16, 2014|
|Put Your Needle Down||The Secret Sisters||Producer||April 15, 2014|
|The Diving Board||Elton John||Producer||September 16, 2013|
|Ghost Brothers Of Darkland County||Various||Producer||April 6, 2013|
|Glad Rag Doll||Diana Krall||Producer||April 10, 2012|
|Storm & Grace||Lisa Marie Presley||Producer||May 15, 2012|
|The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond||Soundtrack||Producer||March 20, 2012|
|Voice of Ages||The Chieftains||Producer||February 21, 2012|
|I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive||Steve Earle||Producer||April 26, 2011|
|Low Country Blues||Gregg Allman||Producer||January 18, 2011|
|National Ransom||Elvis Costello||Producer, Songwriting||February 11, 2010|
|The Union||Elton John and Leon Russell||Producer, Guitar, Songwriting||October 19, 2010|
|The Secret Sisters||The Secret Sisters||Executive Producer||December 10, 2010|
|Myth of the Heart||Sahara Smith||Producer||August 31, 2010|
|Junky Star||Ryan Bingham||Producer||August 31, 2010|
|No Better Than This||John Mellencamp||Producer||August 17, 2010|
|We Walk This Road||Robert Randolph & The Family Band||Producer, Guitar, Songwriting||June 21, 2010|
|Country Music||Willie Nelson||Producer||April 13, 2010|
|Women and Country||Jakob Dylan||Producer||June 4, 2010|
|Crazy Heart||Soundtrack||Producer||January 19, 2010|
|Secret, Profane & Sugarcane||Elvis Costello||Producer||February 6, 2009|
|Moonalice||Moonalice||Producer||April 14, 2009|
|One Kind Favor||B.B. King||Producer||August 26, 2008|
|Akiko||Akiko Yano||Producer||October 22, 2008|
|Life, Death, Love and Freedom||John Mellencamp||Producer||July 15, 2008|
|Still||BoDeans||Producer||April 3, 2008|
|1967||Betty Buckley||Producer||October 16, 2007|
|Raising Sand||Robert Plant and Alison Krauss||Producer||October 23, 2007|
|Across the Universe||Soundtrack||Producer||September 14, 2007|
|The Story||Brandi Carlile||Producer||March 4, 2007|
|Thunderbird||Cassandra Wilson||Producer||April 4, 2006|
|Walk the Line||Soundtrack||Producer||November 15, 2005|
|Future Perfect||Autolux||Producer||October 26, 2004|
|A Boot and a Shoe||Sam Phillips||Producer||April 27, 2004|
|The Ladykillers||Soundtrack||Producer||March 23, 2004|
|Ollabelle||Ollabelle||Producer||September 3, 2004|
|Cold Mountain||Soundtrack||Producer||December 16, 2003|
|The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood||Soundtrack||Producer||May 28, 2002|
|Ralph Stanley||Ralph Stanley||Producer||November 6, 2002|
|A Wonderful World||Tony Bennett and k.d. lang||Producer||May 11, 2002|
|Motherland||Natalie Merchant||Producer||November 13, 2001|
|Fan Dance||Sam Phillips||Producer||July 31, 2001|
|Down from the Mountain||Soundtrack||Producer||July 24, 2001|
|O Brother, Where Art Thou?||Soundtrack||Producer||May 12, 2000|
|Come to Where I'm From||Joseph Arthur||Producer||November 4, 2000|
|Blue Days Black Nights||Freedy Johnston||Producer, Optigan||July 20, 1999|
|Songs from the Pipe||The Surfers||Producer||July 21, 1998|
|Hell Among the Yearlings||Gillian Welch||Producer||July 28, 1998|
|Horse Whisperer||Soundtrack||Producer||February 6, 1998|
|Clay Pigeons||Soundtrack||Producer||September 22, 1998|
|Ole'||Tonio K||Producer||December 23, 1997 (recorded 1990)|
|David Poe||David Poe||Bass, Ukulele, producer, Fuzz bass, Drones||September 23, 1997|
|Omnipop||Sam Phillips||Producer, Loops||August 20, 1996|
|Stealing Beauty||Soundtrack||Producer||May 28, 1996|
|Bringing Down the Horse||Wallflowers||Producer||May 21, 1996|
|Revival||Gillian Welch||Producer||September 4, 1996|
|Sweetie||Daniel Tashian||Guitar, producer||March 26, 1996|
|Braver Newer World||Jimmie Dale Gilmore||Guitar, producer, Mixing||June 25, 1996|
|Bringing on the Weather||Jackopierce||Producer||February 14, 1995|
|Pretty Little Lonely||Michael Petak||Producer||August 16, 1994|
|Martinis & Bikinis||Sam Phillips||Producer||August 3, 1994|
|Dart to the Heart||Bruce Cockburn||Producer||January 3, 1994|
|Go Slow Down||BoDeans||Producer, engineer, Executive Producer||December 10, 1993|
|August and Everything After||Counting Crows||Guitar, producer||September 14, 1993|
|A. J. Croce||A. J. Croce||Producer||May 25, 1993|
|Everything You Want (Nothing That You Need)||Seven Stories||Producer||1993|
|Five Easy Pieces||Dirty Looks||Producer||October 11, 1992|
|Lily||Wendy Matthews||Producer||September 28, 1992|
|Break Like the Wind||Spinal Tap||Producer, Mixing||March 17, 1992|
|Until the end of the World||Soundtrack||Vocals, producer||October 12, 1991|
|Cruel Inventions||Sam Phillips||Guitar, producer, Chamberlin||May 28, 1991|
|Live Two Five||Nitty Gritty Dirt Band||Producer||July 16, 1991|
|Nothing but a Burning Light||Bruce Cockburn||Producer||May 11, 1991|
|Shuffletown||Joe Henry||Guitar, Percussion, producer, Drums||August 31, 1990|
|My Father's Face||Leo Kottke||Organ, Guitar, producer||October 25, 1990|
|Third World Warrior||Kris Kristofferson||Guitar, arranger||June 3, 1990|
|Mystery Girl||Roy Orbison||Guitar, producer||January 2, 1989|
|Spike||Elvis Costello||Guitar, Bass, producer||February 14, 1989|
|Black & White Night: Live||Roy Orbison||Guitar, producer||October 23, 1989|
|The Indescribable Wow||Sam Phillips||Guitar, producer||September 8, 1988|
|"Notes From The Lost Civilization"||Tonio K||Executive Producer, Guitar||1988|
|By the Light of the Moon||Los Lobos||Producer||July 7, 1987|
|The Turning||Leslie Phillips||Guitar, producer||1987|
|Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams||BoDeans||Guitar, producer||January 5, 1986|
|King of America||The Costello Show||Guitar, producer||February 21, 1986|
|Romeo Unchained||Tonio K.||Guitar, Drums, producer||1986|
|Peter Case||Peter Case||Guitar, producer||1986|
|Downtown||Marshall Crenshaw||Sitar, producer||September 16, 1985|
|How Will the Wolf Survive?||Los Lobos||Organ, Guitar, producer||January 1, 1984|
|Time Step||Leo Kottke||Producer||January 5, 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
|True Detective (TV series)||Television||Composer||2014|
|Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis||Television||Producer||2013|
|Inside Llewyn Davis||Film||Executive Music Producer||2013|
|Nashville||Television||Executive Music Producer||2012–2013|
|The Hunger Games film score||Film||Executive Music Producer||March 26, 2012|
|Tough Trade||Television||Executive Producer, Music Producer, composer||2010|
|Crazy Heart||Film||Producer, songwriter, composer||December 19, 2009|
|Across The Universe||Film||Music Producer||December 10, 2007|
|All the King's Men||Film||Executive Music Producer||September 22, 2006|
|Walk the Line||Film||Executive Music Producer, composer||November 18, 2005|
|Don't Come Knocking||Film||Executive Music Producer, composer||August 25, 2005|
|The Ladykillers||Film||Executive Music Producer||March 26, 2004|
|Cold Mountain||Film||Executive Music Producer||December 25, 2003|
|The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood||Film||Composer||July 6, 2002|
|O Brother, Where Art Thou?||Film||Music Producer, Original Music||December 22, 2000|
|The Big Lebowski||Film||Musical Archivist||June 3, 1998|
|Great Balls of Fire!||Film||Music producer, composer||June 29, 1989|
|Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night||TV Special||Musical Director||March 1, 1988|