O Brother, Where Art Thou? (soundtrack)

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is the soundtrack album of music from the 2000 American film of the same name, written, directed and produced by the Coen Brothers and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, and John Goodman.

With the film set in Mississippi during the Great Depression, the soundtrack, produced by T Bone Burnett, uses bluegrass, country, gospel, blues, and folk music appropriate to the time period. With the exception of a few vintage tracks (such as Harry McClintock's 1928 single "Big Rock Candy Mountain"), most tracks are modern recordings.

The soundtrack was reissued on August 23, 2011, with 14 new tracks that were not included in the original album, "including 12 previously unreleased cuts from music producer T Bone Burnett's O Brother sessions."[1]

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
O Brother, Where Art Thou%3F (soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released December 5, 2000
Length 61:24
Label Lost Highway/Mercury
Producer T Bone Burnett
Audio sample
"I Am a Man Of Constant Sorrow"
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Development and sound

The soundtrack was originally conceived as a major component of the film, not merely as a background or support. For this reason it was decided to record a soundtrack before filming.[2] T Bone Burnett was invited to design collections of music.[3] One member of The Stanley Brothers, Ralph Stanley, personally took part in recording the music for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, singing a cappella folk song O Death.[4][5][6]

There is a notable use of dirges and other macabre songs, a theme often recurring in Appalachian music,[7] such as in "O Death," "Lonesome Valley," "Angel Band," and "I Am Weary", in contrast to the bright, cheerful songs, like "Keep On the Sunnyside" and "In the Highways", in other parts of the film.

"I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" has five variations: two are used in the film, one in the music video, and two in the soundtrack. Two of the variations feature the verses being sung back-to-back, and the other three variations feature additional music between each verse.[8] The voices of the Soggy Bottom Boys were provided by Dan Tyminski (lead vocal on "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow"), Nashville songwriter Harley Allen, and the Nashville Bluegrass Band's Pat Enright.[9]

Reception and legacy

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars [10]

The soundtrack CD became a best seller, certified eight times platinum as of October 2007[11] with sales of 7.9 million copies in the United States as of January 2015.[12] It won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2002, the Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals (for singer Dan Tyminski, whose voice overdubbed George Clooney's in the film on "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow", Nashville songwriter Harley Allen, and the Nashville Bluegrass Band's Pat Enright), and the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "O, Death" by Ralph Stanley.

In 2001, the album spent over 20 weeks on the Billboard Top Country Chart. It won the Album of the Year Award and Single of the Year Award for "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" won an award for single of the year at the Country Music Association Awards.[13] It also won the Album of the Year Award at the Academy of Country Music Awards and took home 2 International Bluegrass Music Awards: Album of the Year and Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year (for Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch on "I'll Fly Away").

Some of the artists on the soundtrack played a concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, which was recorded in the documentary film, Down from the Mountain.

In 2006, the album ranked #38 on CMT's 40 Greatest Albums in Country Music. In 2009, Rhapsody ranked it #8 on the "Country's Best Albums of the Decade" list.[14] Engine 145 Country Music Blog ranked it #5 on the "Country's Best Albums of the Decade" list.[15] In 2010, All Songs Considered, a program on NPR, included the soundtrack on their list of "The Decade's 50 Most Important Recordings."[16]

On August 23, 2011, a 10th anniversary edition was released featuring a bonus disc with 14 new tracks that were not included in the original album, all but two of which were previously unreleased songs from Burnett's original sessions.[17][18]

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Artist Length
1. "Po' Lazarus" traditional James Carter and the Prisoners 4:31
2. "Big Rock Candy Mountain" Harry McClintock Harry McClintock 2:16
3. "You Are My Sunshine" Jimmie Davis, Charles Mitchell Norman Blake 4:26
4. "Down to the River to Pray" traditional Alison Krauss 2:55
5. "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" (radio station version) Dick Burnett The Soggy Bottom Boys 3:10
6. "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues" Skip James Chris Thomas King 2:42
7. "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" (instrumental) Burnett Norman Blake 4:28
8. "Keep On the Sunny Side" Ada Blenkhorn, J. Howard Entwisle The Whites 3:33
9. "I'll Fly Away" Albert E. Brumley Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch 3:57
10. "Didn't Leave Nobody but the Baby" traditional Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch 1:57
11. "In the Highways" Maybelle Carter The Peasall Sisters 1:35
12. "I Am Weary (Let Me Rest)" Pete Roberts (Pete Kuykendall) The Cox Family 3:13
13. "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" (instrumental) Ed Haley John Hartford 2:34
14. "O Death" traditional Ralph Stanley 3:19
15. "In the Jailhouse Now" Blind Blake, Jimmie Rodgers The Soggy Bottom Boys 3:34
16. "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" (with band) Burnett The Soggy Bottom Boys 4:16
17. "Indian War Whoop" (instrumental) Hoyt Ming John Hartford 1:30
18. "Lonesome Valley" traditional The Fairfield Four 4:07
19. "Angel Band" traditional The Stanley Brothers 2:15
Total length: 60:18
10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition bonus disc
No. Title Artist Length
1. "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues" Colin Linden 1:15
2. "You Are My Sunshine" Alan O'Bryant 3:29
3. "Tishomingo Blues" John Hartford 2:01
4. "I'll Fly Away" Erik Darling and The Kossoy Sisters 2:32
5. "Big Rock Candy Mountain" Van Dyke Parks 1:42
6. "Tom Devil" Ed Lewis & The Prisoners 5:19
7. "Keep On The Sunny Side" The Cox Family 2:36
8. "Angel Band" Hannah, Leah, Sarah Peasall and Robert Hamlett 0:58
9. "Big Rock Candy Mountain" Norman Blake 2:18
10. "Little Sadie" Norman Blake 1:50
11. "In the Highways" The Cox Family 2:12
12. "Hogfoot" John Hartford 3:47
13. "The Lord Will Make A Way" The Fairfield Four 2:36
14. "In The Jailhouse Now" Harley Allen 3:05
Total length: 35:40


Chart performance


Chart (2000–2002) Peak
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 1
U.S. Billboard 200 1
U.S. Billboard Top Soundtracks 1
Canadian Albums Chart 3
French Albums (SNEP)[19] 9
Australian Albums (ARIA)[20] 15
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[21] 14
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[22] 87


Year Single US Country
2002 "Man of Constant Sorrow" 35

See also


  1. ^ Germain, David. New 'O Brother' set serves up more old-timey music Yahoo! News (August 22, 2011). Retrieved August 22, 2011
  2. ^ Ridley, Jim (May 22, 2000). "Talking with Joel and Ethan Coen about 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'". Nashville Scene. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  3. ^ "O Brother, why art thou so popular?". BBC News. February 28, 2002. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  4. ^ Ellison, Michael (June 18, 2001). "American high". The Guardian. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  5. ^ Kumer, Anita (September 9, 2008). "Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley Endorses Obama". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  6. ^ "Museum Honoring Music Legend Ralph Stanley Set to Open October 16". Ralph Stanley Museum. 2004. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  7. ^ McClatchy, Debbie (2000-06-27). "A Short History of Appalachian Traditional Music". Appalachian Traditional Music – A Short History. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  8. ^ Long, Roger J. (2006-04-09). ""O Brother, Where Art Thou?" entry page". Archived from the original on 2007-11-03. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
  9. ^ "Soggy Bottom Boys Hit the Top at 35th CMA Awards". Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  10. ^ O Brother, Where Art Thou? at AllMusic Allmusic Review
  11. ^ "Gold & Platinum". RIAA.
  12. ^ Jessen, Wade (January 29, 2015). "Luke Bryan's 'Party' Still Rocking, Sam Hunt's Album Holds at No. 1". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  13. ^ Price, Deborah; Stark, Phyllis (December 29, 2001). ""O Brother" One of Country's Biggest Success Stories". Billboard - the International Newsweekly of Music, Video and Home Entertainment.
  14. ^ "Country’s Best Albums of the Decade" Archived January 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  15. ^ Staff (December 10, 2009). "Top Country Albums of the Decade (#10-#1)". Engine 145. Archived from the original on October 24, 2014. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
  16. ^ "The Decade's 50 Most Important Recordings". NPR. November 16, 2009. Retrieved 2010. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  17. ^ Germain, David (August 22, 2011). "New 'O Brother' set serves up more old-timey music". Associated Press. Yahoo! News. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  18. ^ Lewis, Randy (August 23, 2011). "'O Brother,' is it 10 already?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  19. ^ "Lescharts.com – Soundtrack – O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  20. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Soundtrack – O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  21. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Soundtrack – O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  22. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH. Retrieved July 9, 2013.

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