Officially OUR FAVORITE SONG OF 2007. Written by Rowland Salley, this version from Raising Sand just fucking slays us every time. And speaking as former teenage Zepheads, it does our heart good to hear Robert Plant doing something we can both be proud of at our advanced age. Seriously, this is as timelessly classic as anything Led Zepellin ever did. And Alison Krauss is a force of nature. Mark Ribot’s guitar sounds like underwater moonlight piercing the spectral murk of T-Bone Burnett’s elegantly antiqued production. Like butter, it is. Because there was no official video for this song, we went ahead and made our own. Special thanks to the dudes who shot this footage on the way to Alberta, and to The Wookified Crue for tweaking, editing, and synching to the music.
BOSTON GLOBE: Each track sets a different mood – a lullaby, a seduction, a prayer, a remembrance – but adheres to Burnett’s elusive but recognizable template of blending vintage rock, country, folk, and blues with a lot of space. That space gives his work both an earthy quality and something approaching the otherworldly without ever veering into psychedelia.The austere “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us,” written by Burnett’s ex-wife, Sam Phillips, at times feels like a raga and at times like circus music from a Wes Anderson movie. “Polly Come Home,” sung by Plant in a controlled murmur – one of several silken modes employed throughout – is almost painfully erotic. Rowland Salley, Chris Isaak’s bassist, contributes the dreamy, slow chug “Killing the Blues,” which wouldn’t sound out of place on one of his boss’s records. MORE
RELATED: Q&A With T-Bone Burnett
BY PATRICK BERKERY FOR PHILLYBURBS.COM As you might gather from the at-once funky, mysterious, and rustic sound of producer/musician T-Bone Burnett’s recordings – like 2000’s Grammy-winning “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack, and last year’s roots and roll collaboration between Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, “Raising Sand” – the Texas-reared vet who cut his teeth as part of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review is an artist out of time. That’s not to say Burnett’s solely a conduit to some odd, old-timey muse. For all that is diffuse (see his latest solo album, “Tooth of Crime”) and retro (a pending covers disc with The Who) about his work, he’s also earned multi-platinum records for producing modern rock acts like Counting Crows and the Wallflowers, and managed to record Spinal Tap without spontaneously combusting. Right now, he’s out on the road as the guitarist and musical director in the Plant/Krauss touring band. He’s such an integral part of the action that the tour (which hits The Borgata for a sold-out show Sunday) is billed as Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Featuring T-Bone Burnett. We caught up with Burnett on the eve of the tour’s kickoff to discuss – what else – is Plant gonna reunite with Zeppelin or what?
When someone approaches you to produce them, are you given free reign to choose the musicians, the studio, etc.?
That’s always agreed upon up front. Robert and Alison specifically wanted me to choose the band.
Excellent job, by the way.
Thanks (laughs). Those guys and I have been working together for so long that it is a band. I think most people would benefit by using these guys.
It’s pretty much the same band live. So are you chasing the same aesthetic, just trying to stretch things out a bit?
Yeah. We’re trying to make the music come to the audience from underneath, not to spell it out to them. The rehearsals have been so interesting. Buddy Miller’s playing guitar and he’s really great.
The tour starts in two days, so I’m guessing you’ve got the set pretty well mapped out at this point.
Well, we’ve got a set mapped out (laughs). Something we can run down…
Given that Robert Plant worked with maybe the greatest drummer of all time in John Bonham, is he one for imparting any special rhythmic wisdom or making suggestions?
No, not all. Robert, Alison and I all worked very similarly on this collaboration, and nobody really told anybody what to do, at all. We all just showed up and said ‘Let’s do this song,’ and then we would just do it – ‘1, 2, 3, 4? we’d do it, and that’s what it would be. Nobody was giving anybody parts, because we’ve all gotten so far past that.
Having seen Robert Plant live over the last several years with his Strange Sensation band doing covers and originals in smaller rooms, he strikes me as a guy that just wants to play good music, regardless of the commercial aspect or the size of the venues.
Music completely flows out of him. And he’s the most explosive musician I’ve ever worked with. Incredible. We get very, very quiet – it goes up and down but most of the show is pretty quiet. But every once in a while in a really quiet moment he’ll just go off, then the whole band will go off and it will just be utter bedlam for about a minute, then it will all settle back down.
I worshipped Zeppelin, but I’d much rather see him do these things like the “Raising Sand” record where he’s trying new things and so obviously getting off on them.
Yeah, he really is. And I’d love to see Zeppelin, too.
Do you have any insight on that front?
No, I really don’t. Just guessing – I think they’ll do something new. It might be a daunting task to go out night after night and re-create something that happened 30 years ago. This doesn’t come from Robert – this is just me putting myself in his shoes. To go out as singer, particularly, for months, years… it might be tough. Again, this is really just me, I only know what I read, and Robert and I have hardly talked about it at all. As I understand it, Jimmy Page has a bunch of new tunes written. God, that really could be something great, you know?
One thing I can say for sure is that it’s been presented like a choice – Robert’s not doing Led Zeppelin so that he can do this. That’s not really the point. The point is that he can do both anytime he wants to. It’s about freedom for him. I hope they’ll come a time when they’ll get together and do something. MORE