Soundtrack

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LB2016_hires_croppedLincoln Barr is a composer and singer based in Pendleton, OR. After leading Seattle-based pop group Red Jacket Mine for 13 years, he released his debut solo album, Trembling Frames, in 2017. Set to a backdrop equal parts Great American Songbook and Angelo Badalamenti, the album explored Barr’s own childhood trauma and its aftermath with haunting, heartbreaking results, and marked a creative and personal turning point.

This watershed moment led directly into the composition and recording of Cruel Dream: Music From and Inspired by The Past is Never Dead, with many of the same musicians contributing. He is currently recording a follow-up to Trembling Frames. Learn more at lincolnbarrmusic.com.

Lincoln on creating the soundtrack: 

Early in our discussions of the film, Steve mentioned two books: Czeslaw Milosz’s The Captive Mind and Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. He felt their depictions of the mental gymnastics required to maintain sanity in an essentially irrational environment reflected some of the mindset he encountered while interviewing Sikeston residents. Intrigued, I dove into these Soviet-era classics and was rewarded. In addition to early clips and still photography from the film, and my own memories of the mood and mien of the Missouri Bootheel, these texts were an immense influence on the composition of the film’s soundtrack.

Once I’d composed the various themes (many titled with snippets from the aforementioned books), it was really all about casting – choosing sympathetic musicians to help bring them to life. The whole thing was recorded over five feverishly-creative days in spring 2017, aided heavily by my longtime producer Johnny Sangster and a eight-foot marimba brought in especially for the occasion.

Lincoln on the film’s closing song, “The Sunset Addition”:

Having spent a good portion of my childhood and young adulthood in and around southeast Missouri, I knew that racism was alive and well there – but when I became familiar with David’s story and learned a little more about the community of Sikeston, I was struck by the transparency of the (predominantly African American) neighborhood’s name: the Sunset Addition. I wondered – how long does something have to be an addition, before it becomes part of the whole? Does that ever happen?

The musicians:

John Convertino is the co-founder of legendary Tucson, AZ-based band Calexico, and has collaborated with artists such as Neko Case, Howe Gelb, Iron & Wine, and Victoria Williams over the course of his 30-year career. Learn more at casadecalexico.com.

Aaron Harmonson is a bassist and recording engineer based in Seattle, WA.

Levon Henry is a songwriter and saxophonist/clarinetist based in Brooklyn, NY. He is a graduate of the New School’s jazz program, and has performed and recorded with artists such as Allen Toussaint, T-Bone Burnett, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Joe Henry. Learn more at levonhenry.com.

Paul Hiraga is the songwriter and musical polymath behind acclaimed Seattle band Downpilot, who released their seventh album, This is the Sound, in 2018. Learn more at downpilot.com.

Patrick Porter is a Seattle-based guitarist and songwriter. He leads the rock band Explone, and has recorded and performed extensively with artists like Red Jacket Mine, Andrew Norsworthy, and Kirby Krackle. Learn more at explone.com.

Jim Sangster is the bassist and co-founder of legendary Seattle band the Young Fresh Fellows, and a current member of pub-rock quartet the Tripwires. A Seattle institution, he has contributed to countless recordings and bands of note since the early ’80s.

Johnny Sangster is a musician, songwriter, and record producer who’s worked with artists like Neko Case, Mudhoney, Mark Lanegan, and many more. He co-owns the Seattle studio Crackle & Pop!, and released his debut solo album, The Moon on the Ceiling and Other Night Hags, in 2018. Learn more at sangstermania.com.

Daniel Walker is an Oklahoma-born, Seattle-based keyboardist, who’s performed with the likes of Amy Ray, Ann Wilson, Ian Moore, and David Bromberg. Learn more at danwalkerkeys.com.