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Carter Burwell Talks "True Grit" on NPR's "All Things Considered"

Carter Burwell: "True Grit" [cover]

Carter Burwell and his score to True Grit, the film from Joel and Ethan Coen, were featured on today's episode of NPR's All Things Considered. Burwell spoke with guest host Linda Wertheimer about the score and why, due to a technicality of the motion picture academy, it was not among the ten Academy Awards the film is up for at next weekend's Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles.

Burwell suggests this may be "the umpteenth time" one of his scores has run up against such technicalities, in this case because it was based on pre-existing music, namely 19th-century hymns. The Los Angeles Times has called this one a "shame, as Burwell’s work on True Grit is some of his grandest to date." Wertheimer says: "We liked it."

The soundtrack album, out now from Nonesuch Records, includes 20 short original works by Burwell, featuring excerpts from the gospel hymns “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand," “What a Friend We Have in Jesus," “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," “Talk About Suffering," and “The Glory-Land Way." Digital versions of the album, including the free MP3s that come with Nonesuch Store orders of the CD, contain a bonus track: Iris DeMent’s rendition of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” which plays during the film’s closing credits.

Burwell tells Wertheim that he found the inspiration to look to the hymns in the original 1968 novel by Charles Portis on which the film is based. The two also discuss Burwell's decades long working relationship with the Coen brothers and why it has been so fruitful over these many years and 14 films. To listen to the All Things Considered piece with songs from the soundtrack, visit

To pick up a copy of the True Grit soundtrack on CD, with high quality MP3s of the complete album and the digital bonus track included at checkout, head to the Nonesuch Store now.


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