30 Minutes With T Bone Burnett Page 4


You took a 13-year-plus break from recording. Can you describe your thought process during that time? I was born in 1948. I got interested in music in the 1950s, when there was an explosion of music. It was all about freedom and resisting oppressive environments. And that exploded further in the 1960s with the Beatles, and all that. There was an incredible amount of music about freedom and moving forward into the future bravely. And that revolution was, without a doubt, flawed, and it created a lot of anxiety. A classic malice counterrevolution grew up in counter to it. And that counterrevolution has now run out of steam. And I feel that there's another explosion of music coming, and I want to be a part of that explosion.

0606_burnett200I didn't feel there was a point to saying anything for a while because things were going so strongly in the opposite direction that I felt I would be running into a wall if I said anything.

I read in your bio that your dad gave you some advice when you were a kid: "Wait until you're older to write." When I was about 8 years old, he said to wait until I was 50 to publish anything. [laughs]

Nothing wrong with sharing wisdom at that age. They don't pay any less for Picasso's paintings from when he was 80 than from when he was 20.


You mentioned the Beatles. You've seen them play live, right? Oh yes, I'd seen them three times in Texas - twice in Houston and once in Fort Worth.

Safe to say those were life-altering experiences? Oh yeah. I had decided I wanted to play guitar when I was 12, which was about 1960, or something like that. I was listening to a lot of Jimmy Reed, Howlin' Wolf - stuff like that. I already knew at 12 years old that I couldn't do that - Howlin' Wolf was a shaman. It was something I couldn't possibly do.

But then a few years later the Beatles came along, and it was something I could do. I was listening to a lot of Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry at that time, too - and so were they. To see those guys play early on was, you know… it changed all of us, really.

You've worked with a few of them, right? Yes. I worked with [Paul] McCartney, and I've worked with Ringo a few times. I love Ringo Starr. In my opinion, he's the greatest rock & roll drummer of all time.

He's so distinctive, so right. When you hear him in the pocket and on the groove, it's just so tasty. And another thing: he was in the Beatles. That's a pretty serious recommendation.