Crazy Heart Soundtrack1.02.10 # Soundtrack # 16 Comments
The Crazy Heart soundtrack. With so much of this agglutination of rock, mud and salt water that we like to call the Earth having been thoroughly explored, mapped and subsequently filed, it follows that there must these days surely be a paucity of new species for the aspiring zoologist to discover. With even the South Pole probably only a few years away from scoring its own coffee shops and burger joints, what previously unseen creatures can there be left for all those wannabe Charles Darwins out there to prod and poke and use as steppingstones to a university chair? Well, here’s a suggestion for any such ambitious pups: try seeking out a sentient creature who will admit to a dislike of Jeff Bridges.
Unthinkable, I know! Ever since The Big Lebowski struck just over a decade ago, Lloyd’s younger son has enjoyed the gold-plated status of a slacker Zeus in the eyes of film fans. Sure, we had admired Jeff Bridges as a brilliant screen performer for many years, but thanks to the Dude we suddenly all felt we knew Jeff now as a person, with the public perception of the Starman actor being that he was a bit of a gregarious old hippie, none too far removed from the dressing gown-clad alter-ego that the Coens so adeptly fashioned for him.
Bridges appears to have pulled the difficult trick of being a completely versatile, wholly compelling cinematic presence, without vanishing up inside his own derriere in the manner of certain other acclaimed actors (without wanting to turn this into a finger-pointing, name-calling witch-hunt, all I will say is that is if your name rhymes with Baniel Bay-Bewis then, sweet Jesus weirdly intense cobbler dude, you need to lighten up a bit). If there is any discernible weakness in the Jeff Bridges carapace, it is that his avuncularity has undermined him slightly on those rare occasions that he has dipped his toes into villainous waters. Sure, in Iron Man we could buy Bridges dropping round to deliver some pizza to RDJ. But selling Downey Jr. down the river? Never! Not our Jeff! For if he could truly be capable of such a grotesquely appalling betrayal then who would movie geeks have left to put their trust in? Galifianakis? Lord, give me strength…
This overwhelming public approval for all ventures Bridges, J. is almost certainly a positive thing when approaching the soundtrack to Crazy Heart, the Scott Cooper-directed drama in which the erstwhile Jeff Lebowski not only stars as running-on-empty country music star Bad Blake but is also required to trill a few tunes too. Bridges’ acting as Blake has been earning him his typical rave notices, and this time the praise is being accompanied by awards recognition. A Best Actor Golden Globe has already been secured, and Bridges is highly fancied by all those ratiocinating arts commentators to have added a Best Actor Oscar to his trophy haul come the end of the first weekend in March. And while audiences are understandably wary of actors thinking that they are singers too – with the stench of egotism run amok that usually accompanies such a venture – if anyone can seamlessly pull off the tricky transition then it is surely our boy Jeff.
Indeed Bridges is the dominant presence on the Crazy Heart soundtrack, lending his voice to five-and-a-half of the sixteen tracks, with most of them being none too shabby at all. His vocal stylings are maybe somewhat lacking in depth, falling short of communicating a sense of genuine world-weariness, yet there is undeniably a pleasing tone to his singing. Perhaps the best of his contributions here is the first, the languidly low-key Hold On You, which is an admittedly somewhat slight pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless. Existing at the other end of the quality scale is Brand New Angel, where Bridges’ stab at stripped back vulnerability translates into an unintelligible mumble of such low sonic register that only a metal-detecting beachcomber who happened to be in the neighbourhood would have any hope of picking up the actor’s vocal undulations.
Bridges is not the only actor to step up to the mike for Crazy Heart, with Colin Farrell (who plays Blake’s estranged protege Tommy Sweet) and Robert Duvall (Blake’s loyal pal Wayne) also making minor contributions. Neither match up to the headline act though, with Farrell’s duet with Bridges on the jaunty Fallin’ & Flyin’ proving inferior to the latter’s solo take on the same track, and the Irishman’s Gone, Gone, Gone being of average enough quality to make you glad his singing is not given any greater airtime. However if Farrell’s contributions are guilty of being so-so, then what can one say about Duvall’s Live Forever? Half-sung, half-spoken, mercifully brief and utterly, utterly bizarre – it is as if a cadaverous Lord Buckley has been spewed forth from his grave, ready with a brand new nonsense-land ditty that he just can’t wait to hit us with.
And amidst all these Hollywood big-shots, some actual musicians manage to grab some acreage in this Midwest aural melange. Of these, the oldies are by far the best, with the chirpy railroad chug of Buck Owens’ Hello Trouble, the warm evening breeze of the Louvin Brothers’ My Baby’s Gone, and the straight-up blues of Lightnin’ Hopkins Once a Gambler all scoring perfect hits. In contrast, the new kids on the block have far less to offer. The soppy tat that is Sam Phillips’ Reflecting Light seems to have accidentally wandered in from some wet-as-a bucket-of-mackeral rom-com, where it probably would have been used to soundtrack a scene where Kate Hudson or Anne Hathaway sit sighing by the phone, as they think of might have been with empty-headed catalogue hunk. Ryan Bingham (actual country and western dude, not Clooney’s character in Up in the Air) does not fare much better, with his album closer, The Weary Kind, being the kind of grottily rasped, overearnest dreck that both wins major awards (it recently picked up a Golden Globe for Best Song) and incites people who actually like music into the kind of fulminating fury that makes the Incredible Hulk look like a mild-mannered choirboy.
Crazy Heart Soundtrack (Songs) Track-Listing
1. Hold on You – Jeff Bridges
2. Hello Trouble – Buck Owens
3. My Baby’s Gone – The Louvin Brothers
4. Somebody Else – Jeff Bridges
5. I Don’t Know – Ryan Bingham
6. Fallin’ & Flyin’ – Jeff Bridges
7. I Don’t Know – Jeff Bridges
8. Once a Gambler – Lightnin’ Hopkins
9. Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way – Waylon Jennings
10. Fallin’ & Flyin’ – Colin Farrell & Jeff Bridges
11. Gone, Gone, Gone – Colin Farrell
12. If I Needed You – Townes Van Zandt
13. Reflecting Light – Sam Phillips
14. Live Forever – Robert Duvall
15. Brand New Angel – Jeff Bridges
16. The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart) – Ryan Bingham
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