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T Bone Burnett Outlines His New Album, Working With Bob Dylan,
On Sunday night, T Bone Burnett’s 2019 began with the debut of True Detective Season Three, for which he once again crafted the show’s musical identity. It’s a moody and evocative combination of his own electronic, tonal score and a thoroughly researched and exhaustively curated soundtrack of “American Southern vernacular” music, as Burnett put it. But the True Detective music is only the start of what promises to be a momentous year for Burnett.
In case you’re coming to T Bone Burnett for the first time, here’s a brief background: After getting his start touring with Bob Dylan on the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour, Burnett went on to have his own legendary career, which includes 13 Grammys, 11 solo albums, and production for some of the most iconic musicians of all time: Elton John, Elvis Costello, B.B. King, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Brandi Carlile, and many more.
I spoke with Burnett ahead of the True Detective premiere about his soundtrack for the show for a separate story. Our conversation veered into other areas, including a record he produced for Jared Gutstadt, a producer and musician known as Jingle Jared, and Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, a producer who’s worked closely with Justin Bieber. Bob Dylan contributed to the project, which is being released in early 2019 under the name Bear and a Banjo. Burnett also told me about touring with Dylan during the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revenue Tour, which is getting the documentary treatment form Martin Scorsese.
Here are some highlights from the conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity.
The collaborative project (under the name Bear and a Banjo) with Poo Bear, Jingle Jared, and Bob Dylan came about organically.
I ran into Jared in a bar one night and we just started talking. He introduced me to Bear and then we, I don’t know, just one thing led to another and we started cooking stuff up. Bear is a great song writer. I mean, he’s a big-time hit song writer these days. We worked remotely on it, and I exchanged notes with Dylan.
In 1975, Burnett was a member of Bob Dylan’s band on the famed Rolling Thunder Revue tour. Last week, Netflix announced Martin Scorsese is making a documentary about the tour.
Members of the Rolling Thunder Revue including Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, and Roberta Flack perform a benefit concert for Rubin ”Hurricane Carter” at the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women on December 7, 1975 in Clinton, New Jersey.
Getty ImagesImages Press
It’s something they’ve been working on for some time now. I did another interview about three or four years ago for it. But I have no idea what they’re up to. There’s so much footage, the Rolling Thunder, the whole thing was completely recorded. And then we were making a film at the same time so I would think most of it would be drawn from that.
It was an interesting time. Bob had just recorded Blood on the Tracks and Desire. He was at the absolute peak of his powers and completely generous, finding people on the street and putting them on his stage. Finding old friends that he hadn’t seen for 20 years and putting them on the stage. He gathered a pretty large group of artists for a tour. And it was an extraordinary act of generosity. I don’t know where I would be today if Bob hadn’t discovered me, if he’ll forgive me for using that word.
T-Bone Burnett performs in Chicago in 1982.
Getty ImagesPaul Natkin
The True Detective soundtrack served as inspiration for Burnett’s new trio of albums.
I’ve just finished a record called The Invisible Light. It’s actually gonna be at least three albums cause the songs are long and I can’t get them all into one album. I don’t even want to get them all onto one album. We’ve recorded two hours of music so far. But the first album is called Acoustic Space. And The Invisible Light is the name of the project.
What I hope to do is installations rather than go on the road. I want to collaborate with visual artists and have long evenings where it’s a little bit like what Bob did, where I bring other collaborators in and other friends who we’ve done things with before. And do an installation of The Invisible Light music and True Detective music.
The music we’re putting out in The Invisible Light started with the work we were doing on True Detective, and it turned into a whole other group of songs and music and everything. That has nothing to do with True Detective, but True Detective was the inspiration for it.