T Bone Burnett makes the soundtrack to his life

In 2001 T Bone Burnett won a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for the playlist that he put together for the movie, “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” In 2004 he won a Grammy in the same category for the soundtrack to “Cold Mountain,” again in 2005 for “Walk the Line” and once again in 2010 for “Crazy Heart.” Here T Bone Burnett has done the same thing, this time, created for WNXP the soundtrack to his life.

He could have gone with the hits and started with Bob Dylan and included a song that he performed with Dylan on the Rolling Thunder Review tour. Or he could have included “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” a song that he famously reprised for the film that he scored, or perhaps the most famous song he produced, “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows. But Burnett is a curator and one who tends to go deeper. This playlist tells his story, and T Bone Burnett has been kind enough to share an insight into each track on the playlist, as well.

Buddy Holly – “I’m Gonna Love You Too”

I thought I’d start off with a couple of songs that got me into the idea of recording music. Buddy Holly was, of course, the first great singer songwriter of the Rock and Roll era. He was also a deft guitar play with a great feel. I love the way he transitions from Norteño type feel in the intro into a straight up Texas swing country feel at the first verse.

This record is what Fort Worth sounded like when I was growing up.

T Bone Burnett – “Shake Yourself Loose”

This is an unreleased track from 1970. I don’t know why I never put this out. I will put it out someday soon.

This is the B52 Band, with my high school classmate Dean Parks on guitar, Tom Canning on piano, Matt Betton on Drums, David Jackson on Bass. If memory serves, Dan Moore, Rita Jean Bodine, and Linda Carey Dillard are singing.

“Shake Yourself Loose” previously unreleased until now. Exclusive for this playlist

The Alpha Band – “Born in Captivity”

With David Mansfield and Steven Soles, David Miner on bass and Ringo Starr on Drums.

The Staples Singers – “I Know I Got Religion”

If I could be anyone else, it would probably be Pops Staples.

Los Lobos – “One Time One Night”

David Hidalgo is one of the very best and most soulful musicians I’ve ever had the great pleasure and privilege to work with. The whole band is killer.

Counting Crows – “Perfect Blue Buildings”

This is my favorite song from August and Everything After.

T Bone Burnett – “The Long Time Now”

Dean Parks on guitar, Jim Keltner on Drums.

The Alpha Band – “The Dogs”

Guest vocal Rosana de Soto.

Roly Salley – “Killing the Blues”

Roly Salley wrote and sang this beautiful song with an undefinable sense of hurt and wonder.

Sam Phillips – “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us”

Bob Dylan said you’ve never heard a song till you’ve heard the person who wrote it sing it. Sam Phillips is as good a singer and songwriter as anyone I’ve worked with.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us”


Gregg Allman – “Blind Man”

The great Bobby Bland song, written by Don Robey and Joe Scott (who was the trumpet player/band leader for those Duke Peacock recordings) killed by Gregg Allman, live with the horns and everybody together there on the floor. Darrell Leonard played Joe Scott’s role here with Mac Rabennack, Jay Bellerose, Nathan East and Doyle Bramhall.

Sam Phillips – “The Fan Dance”

Another great song from Sam Phillips with Ribot and Jay Bellerose. This whole album is being rereleased on vinyl soon.

Gillian Welch – “My Morphine”

Here Gillian writes a song that sounds like a standard. With yodeling.

Ryan Bingham – “The Weary Kind”

I was writing a song about the Iraq War and somehow the line “I am the man who ruined the world” ended up in this song. I forgot the rest of the Iraq War song.

Gillian Welch – “Pass You By”

We recorded this on one mic live with Gillian singing into a U67 microphone with Roy Huskey, Jr. standing about eight feet away and compressing the whole big room at Woodland Studios. Roy counts it off and plays one of the most mighty bass parts ever recorded.

Peter Case – “Small Town Spree”

Van Dyke Parks arranged this beautiful song. This record seems to be out of print. I’m going to see if we can get it back in print. I’ve always loved Peter and his unique and imaginative songwriting.

B.B. King – “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean”

BB King Live at the Regal is one of the three or four best live albums ever recorded. I listened thousands of hours to that and all the classic records B.B. recorded with the great producer Maxwell Davis. When I got a call from B.B. to make a record, I wanted to do something true to that mighty work he had done years earlier.