Logged in last week to see a picture of my friend situated beneath the crummiest headline possible. Now his family, colleagues and friends — including me — are recalibrating.
I have been listening to this collection of 24 T Bone Burnett songs — a lot.
“I’ve written a lot of really tough songs; I’ve been really tough on my characters a lot of times. But at the same time I know that any discussion of morality begins with one’s self, and the person I was really dealing with in all those songs was myself.”*Burnett’s reticence toward these songs contributes to their draw, for me.
Some of his ambivalence (to put it mildly) has to do with production issues — of the eight songs he included in his 40 song retrospective from 2006, Burnett went back into the studio and painstakingly re-recorded five.
“All these songs are about ridiculous people. ‘Strange Combination’ is about an awful person. [‘Amnesia And Jealousy (Oh! Lana!)’] is about a terrible person. ‘Having A Wonderful Time, Wish You Were Her’ is a completely sardonic song addressed to a phony lover. The only thing close to redeeming is ‘My Life And The Women Who Lived It,’ but even the title is kind of a horrible thought.
“Is there a moment of light on this record? I don’t think so. I was just starting to come out of a dark personal time, and was working these things out of my system. My original title was Beneath The Trap Door. That’s how it felt.”**Ridiculous, terrible people — people I can nevertheless to some degree recognize within myself. Pretty much exactly what I need to hear right now.
*Blog heading and LA Times quote are from T Bone Burnett: A Life In Pursuit, Lloyd Sachs.
**Liner notes to the 2007 re-release of Trap Door/Proof Through The Night/Behind The Trap Door.