Jack White and T Bone Burnett are producing a documentary about the American recording industry during the 1920s and 1930s. The film, which Burnett says is co-produced by Robert Redford and the BBC, will be called American Epic.
Jack White and T Bone Burnett are producing a documentary about the American recording industry during the 1920s and 1930s.
The film, which Burnett says is co-produced by Robert Redford and the BBC, will be called American Epic.
Speaking at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Burnett said, “It’s the story of the American recording industry from 1926 to 1936, this incredible occurrence. In 1926 the record industry fell off 80 per cent in one year because of the proliferation of radio in the big cities. The middle-class people and the wealthy people who were able to buy radios no longer wanted to buy records, because they could get music for free – why buy a record? So the recording companies, having equipment and nothing to do, decided to go down south, where people didn’t have electricity, and therefore didn’t have radios. So they started recording people down south – they started recording the poorest people in the country and broadcasting their voices all around the world.”
“To me, that’s the promise of the democracy of the United States realised. And I think, also, from that has grown our greatest cultural export, which is our music. From Jimmie Rodgers, who recorded in 1926, to Louis Armstrong, through Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. We’ve spread our culture all over the world with this music. Music is an important part of our national identity. We’ve defined ourselves by it, from the Revolutionary War and The Star Spangled Banner, through the Civil War and John Brown’s Body, to this explosion of recorded music in the 20th century. It’s all regional, it’s a never-ending story, and it’s who we are.”
Burnett had also produced the new Elton John album The Diving Board which is due for release in September. He also served as music producer on the Coen Brothers new film, Inside Llewyn Davis, which is due for release in the UK in January 2014.
Visit our new, dedicated features section, with plenty of our best long pieces archived there. You can find it here.