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CRAZY HEART

Brand New Angel
The storytelling of CRAZY HEART started with the script, but that was truly just the beginning. Bad Blake is all about his music, which is why the songwriting of CRAZY HEART was as central as the storytelling – and had to be 100% real and believable as coming from inside the soul and experience of a well loved, if washed-up, country singer. There was no one better to do that than T Bone Burnett, who wrote many of Blake's songs along with the late Stephen Bruton.

"We knew that if we were going to take on a movie about a country singer, we had to get the music absolutely right,” explains Rob Carliner. "That's why we wound up going to T Bone. Without him, this movie likely wouldn't have happened – and it could never have happened as authentically.”

A legendary songwriter in his own right and a fervent champion of American roots music, Burnett has made his mark all over contemporary pop culture, on such indelible soundtracks as O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? and WALK THE LINE, as well as a dizzying array of recordings for such diverse artists as Elvis Costello, Roy Orbison, Tony Bennett, k.d. lang, Alison Krauss, Counting Crows, the Wallflowers, Sam Phillips, Gillian Welch, Ralph Stanley, and the list goes on. It took almost a year for the filmmakers to track down the almost always-engaged Burnett, but when Scott Cooper finally met with him, they hit it off instantly. Burnett came on board not only to write and produce the film's songs but as a producer.

He couldn't help but be drawn in by the hard truths and raw humor of Bad Blake's story. "And with Scott Cooper being a musician, having been on the road, and having a good ear, it seemed there was the potential to make a movie that would be authentic to the experience of being a musician.”

It was Cooper, Burnett says, who convinced him he had to be part of the film. "He made me believe he could make a film that would stand the test of time. He's very knowledgeable about country music and the South and the whole world these characters inhabit.”

Burnett, in turn, called on his long-time friend, the lauded guitarist, songwriter and record producer Stephen Bruton, whose songs were recorded by the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt, Hal Ketchum, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, The Highwaymen, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Buffett and Martina McBride, among others, and who produced albums for such artists as Alejandro Escovedo, Marcia Ball and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Bruton passed away of cancer at the tail end of production in May of 2009, working even as he pursued treatment.

"It is remarkable that Stephen's artistic force and spirit were so strong and so constant throughout the process even though he was fighting a difficult battle the entire time we were working,” says Burnett. "He co-wrote most of the songs, played a lot of the score, coached the actors, and was on the set the entire shoot to make sure things were real. I think there is a lot of Stephen in Bad Blake. Stephen had lived that same life -- in the extreme.”

Bruton, indeed, felt a deep affinity for Bad, having spent much of his own life on tour buses rambling through roadhouses far from home. "It's an interesting life,” Bruton said before his death. "Nothing but the performance is real. You're not responsible to anything you did yesterday and it's great for a while but it can easily become a state of arrested development. At some point, you have to walk through the looking glass.”

Burnett, too, related strongly to the character. He was acutely aware that Bad is the kind of man who expresses himself best in verse-and-refrain, rather than conversations, especially the more intimate and revealing kind. "Bad says, ‘I been blessed and I been cursed, all my lies have been unrehearsed,'” Burnett points out. "It would be extremely hard for Bad to say what he

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