Mark Twain: A Film Directed by Ken Burns

Mark Twain: A Film Directed by Ken Burns

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The world of the legendary author and wit Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, is vividly captured on this companion recording to Ken Burns's documentary. Dominated by the extravagantly talented Bobby Horton, who excels on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and concertina, among other instruments, the soundtrack evokes the folksy sound of the Mississippi and its

Overview

The world of the legendary author and wit Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, is vividly captured on this companion recording to Ken Burns's documentary. Dominated by the extravagantly talented Bobby Horton, who excels on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and concertina, among other instruments, the soundtrack evokes the folksy sound of the Mississippi and its environs. . Horton performs bright versions of hardy traditional classics and spirituals, including "Sweet Betsy from Pike," "Poor Wayfarin' Stranger," "How Can I Keep from Singing," and "Hard Times." Jacqueline Schwab also weighs in with a few delicate piano selections, and John Owen "Fiddlin' Johnny" Lardinois leads a bouncy "Shuckin' the Bush" and "Dill Pickle Rag" Among the other featured performers are Prairie Home Companion favorite Peter Ostroushko. The effect of this carefully selected music is a sometimes wistful, sometimes spirited, 19th-century pastoral, evoking an age when folk traditions were still very much alive in this country. Interspersed among the musical selections are a handful of short, pungent monologues by actor Kevin Conway that convey Twain's caustic folk genius. -- William Pearl

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
This is the soundtrack to documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' PBS television series Mark Twain, performed by folk musicians recreating the sound of American folk, popular, and spiritual music circa the late-19th century. Some of the songs would have been familiar in Twain's time, such as "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Poor Wayfarin' Stranger," "Maple Leaf Rag," and "Sweet Betsy From Pike." Others were written after Twain's death, but have a similar feel of Americana from the late 1800s, and a handful were actually written specifically for the soundtrack. Most of the 29 selections are performed either by Alabama multi-instrumentalist Bobby Horton or pianist Jacqueline Schwab, both of whom had collaborated with Burns on several of his previous documentaries, such as his well-known Civil War series, which used similar music. If you've seen that or other Burns documentary projects like Baseball and Lewis and Clark, you know what to expect: homespun, laid-back sounds that are evocative of past times. They're a little nostalgic and corny, and impeccably executed, though in a manner that emphasizes their utility as backing tracks, rather than expressing much individuality or interpretation on the part of the performers. Five of the tracks are brief spoken excerpts of Twain's writings, read by actor Kevin Conway.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/06/2001
Label:
Sony Mod - Afw Line
UPC:
0696998609129
catalogNumber:
86091
Rank:
117770

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Made in the Image of God
  2. Sweet Betsy from Pike
  3. Dogue Creek
  4. Wagoner's Lad
  5. Howl
  6. Mighty Big River
  7. Shadow on the Marsh
  8. Poor Wayfarin's Stranger
  9. Shuckin' the Bush
  10. How Can I Keep from Singing
  11. Ol Voices
  12. For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name
  13. When Tomorrow Comes
  14. Wagoner's Lad
  15. The Falls
  16. Ties That Bind
  17. Rosin' the Bow
  18. Amelia
  19. "Shakespear Is Dead"
  20. Dill Pickle Rag
  21. Hard Times
  22. Hard Times
  23. Sweet Betsy from Pike
  24. Maple Leaf Rag
  25. "Two Unaccountable Freaks"
  26. Sweet Betsy from Pike
  27. How Can I Keep from Singing
  28. Advice for Arrival in Heavens
  29. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tim Clark   Voices
Peter Ostroushko   Track Performer
Blythe Danner   Voices
Phillip Bosco   Voices
Bobby Horton   Track Performer
Petteway   Track Performer
Amy Madigan   Voices
Jacqueline Schwab   Track Performer
Kevin Conway   Voices
Fiddlin' Johnny   Track Performer
Ann Duquesnay   Voices
Ed Gerhard   Track Performer
Keith David   Narrator
Carolyn McCormick   Voices
Lou Verrico   Overdubs

Technical Credits

Allen Moore   Cinematography
Kevin Burns   Executive Producer,Cinematography
Howard Fritzson   Art Direction
Susan Yeaton Butler   Administrative Assistant
Brenda Heath   Financial Director
Debora Keller   Administrative Assistant
Patty Lawlor   Administrative Assistant
Geoffrey C. Ward   Creative Consultant

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Mark Twain: A Film Directed by Ken Burns 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most of the music reminded me of songs i heard my parents play while i was growing up. This music seemed to be similar to or perhaps were the roots for some of the music played now (unless those were the ones made up special for the movie). I don't believe the beat was as quick back in the early 1900's or late 1800's but it fit in well for good listening. I thoroughly enjoyed the CD.