DIVINE SECRETS OF
THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD
Striking The Right Note
Complementing the film is an eclectic and evocative soundtrack with
selections representing each decade from the story's 60-year time span. A
delicious offering of blues, rock, traditional gospel, updated romantic classics
and spicy Cajun tracks, each song rings true to the Ya-Yas' distinctly
southern roots and helps define significant moments of their lives.
Produced by multiple Grammy Award-winning producer and musician T Bone
Burnett, this diverse collection of songs was compiled by Burnett with help from
noted composer David Mansfield and director Callie Khouri, who tapped into the
musical rhythms of her own Texas and Kentucky background to find pieces with
precisely the right resonance for each scene. More than a retrospective of
popular tunes of the day, it was essential to Khouri that the soundtrack was
authentic to the region and to the characters. "These are songs that Vivi,
Necie, Teensy and Caro would likely have listened to and danced to," she
says. "When I hear this music, I imagine being in the room with them."
Together, Khouri and Burnett spent more than a year reviewing hundreds of
CDs. When it came time to narrow the field, Khouri found their instincts to be
remarkably in sync. "We instantly spoke the same language," she
recalls of the collaborative effort. "Our musical sensibilities and taste
Khouri listened to the music while writing her screenplay, and by the time
production began she was already sure about some of the selections, for example,
Taj Mahal's rendition of the Fats Waller classic Keeping Out of Mischief
Now, and the beautiful Dimming of the Day, by Richard and Linda
Thompson. "I didn't know exactly where they would go," says Khouri,
"but there was no doubt they would be in the film."
The Taj Mahal piece is heard at young Vivi's big birthday party, where the
blues legend himself plays a cameo as a bandleader. Dimming of the Day,
Khouri explains, "was re-arranged to add more strings to the original
guitar and banjo, and underscores beautifully a poignant scene in which Ellen
Burstyn as Vivi, alone in her garden one night, does an impromptu dance that
reminds her of her childhood."
Likewise, Ann Savoy's French Cajun tracks provide the right mix of passion,
high spirits and haunting ambiguity to a party where Ashley Judd as Vivi learns
her fiancĂ© is going to war, and later, legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson's
Walk in Jerusalum adds inspiration to a scene in which young mother Vivi
and little Sidda share an intensely joyful hour soaring in the sky on a prop
Two original songs make their debut on the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya
Sisterhood soundtrack. Waitin' for You was composed and performed
especially for the film by Bob Dylan, a longtime friend and associate of Burnett
and Mansfield from their days touring together with Dylan's Rolling Thunder
Review. Dylan wrote Waitin' for You after seeing an early screening,
and it plays over the film's end credits. Lauryn Hill, who stormed the 1999
Grammy Awards with 11 nominations and a record-breaking five awards for her
first album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, contributed Selah, a
soul-baring song about redemption.
Backed for the first time by a big band with a 12-piece horn section,
assembled by Burnett, and using old-fashioned microphones for a subtle vintage
sound, critically acclaimed vocalist Macy Gray recorded Billie Holidays' My
Mother's Son in Law, an upbeat song with a touch of humor, just right for
a scene in which the young Ya-Yas cut loose one humid summer night by driving
around in their pajamas in a convertible with the top down to cool off.
Music legend Tony Bennett's contribution to the soundtrack, a soulful
rendition of a Nat King Cole song, If Yesterd
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