30 Minutes With T Bone Burnett Page 5

B-52 PICKUP

I see that there's nothing from the [1972] B-52 Band & the Fabulous Skylarks record on the Twenty Twenty compilation. How come? You know, I couldn't find anything that... fit. [chuckles] That was a very experimental kind of record. I never did anything like it before or after.

Who owns the car you're leaning on on the cover? That was a guy named Jim Meeker's car. It's really interesting that you ask that. Meeker was so generous. He was an oilman in Fort Worth who was also an art collector, and he used to have all the artists in town come hang out with us kids in town who were also artists. He'd have [Andy] Warhol, [Robert] Rauschenberg, Kenny Price, and Ed Ruscha. I met all those guys when we were twentysomethings.

We were out goofing around one day and he loaned us his car. There's also a B-52 in that shot. Stephen Bruton told me recently that we grew up in Fort Worth under the military-industrial complex, that B-52s used to circle the town all day long. And I just found out that they were going to Vietnam. They were leaving the Air Force base in Fort Worth, refueling over the Pacific, dropping their bombs on Vietnam, and coming back every day.

Whose house are you standing in front of on the back cover? I don't know! It's some random house we found in Fort Worth. We used it because it had a rock yard. [laughs] That whole thing was a lark. So much of the stuff I did in the old days was a lark.

THE LIVE THING

Last line of questioning: Are you taking The True False Identity on the road, and, if so, how are you going to do it? This a band I've been working with for a long time, so we've really become a band. I had three drummers in the studio, but I can't afford to take three drummers on the road, so I've got Jim Keltner, who's like three drummers himself. And we've got Marc Ribot on guitar, Dennis Crouch on bass, and Keefus Ciancia on keyboards.

And we're gonna play very quietly. We took Brother, O Where Art Thou? music out on the road with a show called "Down from the Mountain," and we played without monitors and with three Neumann U 47 condenser microphones, a couple of Altec ribbon microphones, and a couple of RCA 77s. Without monitors, you can use those kind of mics live, and you get a tremendous volume of tone without the raw volume we're used to, working with more direct sounds. We had nothing feeding back into the microphones, and the PA was used for sound reinforcement, the way it was originally designed and thought. So we're gonna try and do it with this music instead of having it be a loud rock show. We're gonna play it quietly onstage and turn it up loud in the audience.

I want to do it all with this record. I used to resist this kind of thing in the '80s. But today, all of those kinds of things seem like an extreme privilege. Anyplace people want me to come play I'll be happy to show up. I'm interested in taking what I've learned in 40 years of listening in the best studio environments possible to the live stage, to see if we could reproduce the kind of sound we get in the studio live and make it really incredibly great for people.

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