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T Bone Burnett on “Inside Llewyn Davis”: “The film, truly and seriously, is the story of my life”

The Golden Hour strikes as I’m escorted into T Bone Burnett’s suite at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills. The last rays of sunlight pierce the spacious room. There’s no artificial lighting, save for a lone bulb burning brightly in the corner. T Bone emerges clad in traditional black suit, white shirt and black tie. He looks like the hippest mortician you’ll ever meet. He’s been doing interviews all day, and with the sun setting, I’m clearly one of the last. His gentle eyes (usually hidden behind trademark dark sunglasses) and invigorating, smoky laugh make me feel unique, that I’m not the last in a long cattle call.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” tells the story of the titular, prideful folk singer, played with restrained bitterness by Oscar Isaac, navigating the changing landscape of 1961 Greenwich Village. Written and directed by Academy Award winners Joel and Ethan Coen, the film marks the fourth collaboration between T Bone Burnett, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen who produced the soundtrack, with Marcus Mumford as associate producer. The album includes 12 new recordings made especially for the film and soundtrack plus an existing recording by Dave Van Ronk, an oft-overlooked folk figure on which Llewyn is loosely based. Burnett and I spoke of unsung heroes, collaborating with the Coen brothers, and the one album that comes close to perfection.

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