Movie Music

Hollywood Shuffle: Can Anyone Beat Crazy Heart At Sunday's Oscars?

Rocks Off presents a new series about film, musical documentaries and soundtracks.

Pretty much every critic thinks Jeff Bridges is going to walk home with a shiny gold statuette following Sunday night's Oscars.

Bridges, after all, has already won the Golden Globe for best actor for his portrayal of Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, the story of a down-and-out country singer trying to make one last hit. But Rocks Off is more interested in a lesser category, Best Original Song, for which the film's theme, "The Weary Kind," is nominated.

Critics adored the movie, but Rocks Off found it too formulaic. The music was by far the film's saving grace. That's most likely because it was written by prodigious Fort Worth native T-Bone Burnett with his late musical partner Stephen Bruton, also from Fort Worth. Burnett already owns several Grammys and Oscars for his work with artists like Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, Arlo Guthrie and B.B. King.

The most surprising thing, to Rocks Off, is that Jeff Bridges can actually sing, at times channeling later work by Bob Dylan. That's more than we can say for Colin Farrell, whose character Tommy Sweet represents the glitsy Nashville country pop all over radio these days. If Bad Blake equals Waylon Jennings, then Colin Farrell is Keith Urban. As Blake tells his backing band, "I've played sick, drunk, divorced and on the run."

In the film, Bad Blake's songs serve as a kind of clever musical foreshadowing to the plot. On the first night Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is supposed to see Bad play, just a few hours after their meeting, Bad sings "It's funny how fallin' feels like flyin," as if you couldn't figure out for yourself the two were going to hook up.

"Somebody Else," a quick and flashy blues reminiscent of Dylan's Time Out of Mind, was Rocks Off's favorite song from the film, but even it became tiresome after repeated usage in transition scenes and performances in smokey, boozy venues. Maybe that was intentional, though - let filmgoers sympathize with Bad Blake's monotonous repetition of his few remaining hits.

The rest of the soundtrack is solid, featuring work by The Louvin Brothers, Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings and Houston's own Lightin' Hopkins. Robert Duvall also has a cameo on the soundtrack, singing his Apostle (and real-life) buddy Billy Joe Shaver's "Live Forever."

Assuming "The Weary Kind" wins a statuette - safe assumption, since it's up against a song from Nine, a foreign film, and two cartoons - the win will be a bittersweet one. Expect Burnett and co-writer Ryan Bingham to dedicate the award to Bruton, who died last May, just after filming for the movie ended.

Houston-related musical movie news and our pick for "Soundtrack of the Week" after the break...


Thunder Soul, a documentary about the legendary stage band from Houston's Kashmere High School, will premier at SXSW Film March 13. The documentary follows the reunion of alumni from the funk band, who gathered to play for their mentor and bandleader Conrad O. Johnson 35 years later. Rocks Off covered the reunion in 2008 and the death of Johnson just three days after the show.

Soundtrack of the Week: Broken Flowers

Rocks Off loves Bill Murray, but this film sucked. Sorry Jim (Jarmusch). However, the soundtrack is one of our all-time favorites, thanks to the work of psychedelic Ehiopian jazz composer Mulatu Astatke. Also featuring: Rocks Off favorite Dengue Fever, Marvin Gaye and Brian Jonestown Massacre.
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Shey is an experienced blogger, social media expert and traveler. She studied journalism at Oklahoma State University before working as a full-time reporter for Houston Community Newspapers in 2005. She lived in South Korea for three years, where she worked as a freelancer.
Contact: Brittanie Shey