For True Grit—Joel and Ethan Coen's 2010 film adaptation of the 1968 Charles Portis novel, starring Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, and Matt Damon—composer Carter Burwell looked to 19th-century hymns as the backbone to his score. The Los Angeles Times says it works "equally well for big-screen vistas and solitary contemplation." Iris DeMent's performance of the hymn "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," featured on the film's closing credits, is included as a digital bonus track.
Nonesuch releases composer Carter Burwell’s score for the Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions film True Grit on December 21, 2010. The film is directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and features Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, and Hailee Steinfeld. The Coen brothers wrote the script, which is based on the 1968 novel of the same name by Charles Portis. True Grit opens on December 22.
The album includes 20 short original works by Burwell, featuring excerpts from the gospel hymns “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand” (by Franklin L. Eiland), “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (by Charles Converse), “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” (by Elisha A. Hoffman & Anthony J. Showalter), “Talk About Suffering” (Traditional), and “The Glory-Land Way” (by J. S. Torbett). 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.
True Grit is the story of 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), whose father has been shot in cold blood by the coward Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Mattie is determined to bring him to justice. Enlisting the help of a trigger-happy, drunken U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), she sets out with him—over his objections—to hunt down Chaney. Her father’s blood demands that she pursue the criminal into Indian territory and find him before a Texas Ranger named LeBoeuf (Matt Damon) catches him and brings him back to Texas for the murder of another man.
Burwell says of the film’s music: “Ethan and Joel and I had the same idea—a score rooted in 19th-century hymns. The songs Mattie would sing if she had time for such frivolity. Our model was the hymn ‘Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,’ composed in 1888 by Anthony Showalter, an elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Dalton, Georgia, and used memorably in the film The Night of the Hunter. This, together with other hymns of the period, forms the backbone of the score, which grows from church piano to orchestra as Mattie gets farther and farther from home.”
Original Music by Carter Burwell
Soundtrack Album Produced by Carter Burwell
Executive in Charge of Music for Paramount Pictures: Randy Spendlove
Soundtrack Album Coordinator: Jason Richmond
Conducted by Carter Burwell
Orchestrated by Carter Burwell and Sonny Kompanek
Music Scoring Mixer: Michael Farrow
Additional Engineering: Lawrence Manchester
Music Recorded at The Manhattan Center, New York City
Music Mixed at The Body, New York City
Orchestra Contractor: Sandra Park
Music Copyist: Tony Finno
Composer's Assistant: Dean Parker
Music Editor: Todd Kasow
Assistant Music Editor: Mick Gormaley
Mastering by Robert C. Ludwig at Gateway Mastering Studios Inc.
Score contains excerpts of "Hold to God's Unchanging Hand" (Written by Franklin L. Eiland), "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" (Written by Charles Converse), "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms (Written by Elisha A. Hoffman & Anthony J. Showalter) "Talk About Suffering" (Traditional), and "The Glory-Land Way" (Written by J. S. Torbett). "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," performed by Iris DeMent, written by Elisha A. Hoffman & Anthony J. Showalter / Traditional.
Jim Beard, piano
Todd Phillips, Joanna Maurer, Yurika Mok, Ming Hsin, Jennifer Kim, Emily Popham, Peter Bahng, Saeka Matsuyama, Ragga Petursdottir, Nancy McAlhany, Misa Iwama, Liz Lim, Matt Lehmann, Sophia Kessinger, Tom Carney, Ellen Payne, Joyce Hammann, Pico Alt, Conway Kuo, Nate Robinson, Karen Karlsrud, violin
Karen Dreyfus, Christof Huebner, Daniel Panner, Shmuel Katz, Michael Roth, Cal Wiersma, Danielle Farina, Alissa Smith, viola
Alan Stepansky, Melissa Meell, Jerry Grossman, Maureen McDermott, Mary Wooten, Pitnarry Shin, Bruce Wang, Roberta Cooper, cello
Kurt Muroki, Martin Wind, Marji Danilow, Shawn Conley, Jeff Carney, Nicholas Walker, basses
Nadine Asin, Diva Goodfriend, flute
Pedro Diaz, Rich Dallessio, oboe
Steve Williamson, Dean LeBlanc, clarinet
Marc Goldberg, Harry Searing, bassoon
Michelle Baker, Javier Gandara, Anne Scharer, Barbara Currie, horn
David Krauss, Jim Ross, Ken DeCarlo, trumpet
Demian Austin, Mike Davis, Paul Pollard, trombone
Kyle Turner, tuba
Erik Charlston, Gordon Gottlieb, Ben Herman, percussion
Victoria Drake, harp