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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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I can't believe this gem hasn't been discussed yet. If you haven't yet seen the film, run out and get it. Loosely based on Homer's "Odyssey", the film is set in the depression-era deep South. It tells the story of three convicts who break away from the prison chain-gang searching for a treasure. In the search for it they encounter a wild assortment of characters including a one-eyed Bible salesman (and KKK member), crooked politicians, inept cops, famous bad guys, and cows. Lots and lots of cows. Entwined with this is some of the most startlingly beautiful music I have ever heard on a soundtrack. A congregation (led by Alison Krauss) turning in a gorgeous "Down To The River To Pray", 3 'sirens' (actually sung by Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, and Alison Krause) turning in a hypnotic "Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby". There are a couple of showstoppers, the first being "Man Of Constant Sorrow" (Like, try getting THAT song out of your head), and Tim Blake Nelson's gleeful dim-witted romp through "In The Jailhouse Now". I am probably more than a bit biased, as, there was a bit of a tug in the film for me. It opens with a song that rang a distant, dim bell with me. The opening credits are set to Harry McClintock's "Big Rock Candy Mountain". The lyrics were oddly......... comfortable, and familiar. "Birds and the bees and the cigarette trees" "All the cops have wooden legs, the bulldogs all have rubber teeth and the hens lay soft boiled eggs". After the movie, I hopped in the shower and it hit me like a sledge. I started to cry like a kid. As a kid, at family gatherings the booze flowed pretty freely. We'd be upstairs once every now and again doing homework, playing Pong or whatever. Invariably, my 4'2" French Canadian, drunk as a lord Grandfather would come in reeling, and sing that very song. Word for word. Pat me on the head, tell me he loved me, give me 5 bucks, and head back down for more beers with my family. I lost him in '95, and miss him like hell. He used to call me Bucko. My eyes are running now as I write this. He was cool, the movie was cool, and the music was cool.

Be well my friends.


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There's a great scene in this movie that makes a lot more sense if you read the songfacts for Crossroads. It's been a while since I've seen it, but I think the character's name is Tommy Johnson, and he's clearly based on Robert Johnson, a Blues singer who supposedly sold his sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his musical inspiration (kind of like Led Zeppelin).

Ken is right, this is a really good movie with great use of music.

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