'Hi-Lo Country' Soundtrack Updates Classic Western Music

Duet by Beck and Willie Nelson sets tone for album.

Before Carter Burwell set to work on the score for the post-World War II western

"The Hi-Lo Country," he did his homework listening to old western soundtracks for films

such as "Red River."

But what the composer of scores for such major films as "Fargo," "Miller's Crossing" and

"Velvet Goldmine" said he found after listening to many classic western scores is that he

wanted to avoid copying them.

"I took certain aspects of [them], some of the drums and brass that they would use, but I

updated [this score] by adding unusual time signatures. ... The cattle drive is written in

7/8 time, which is a little bit off-kilter and unpredictable," Burwell said. "I used

acoustic guitar on the score, which is not an unusual choice, but I processed it

electronically, so it makes for a little bit different sound."

Set for release Tuesday (Jan. 19), "The Hi-Lo Country" soundtrack features Burwell's

score and a duet from country legend Willie Nelson and hip-hop folkie Beck on

href="http://media.addict.com/atn-bin/get-music/Nelson,_Willie/Drivin_Nails_In_My_Coffin.ram">"Drivin' Nails In My

Coffin" (RealAudio excerpt). It also includes a Hank Williams original, and Leon

Rausch -- former singer for vintage western swing band Bob Wills and the Texas

Playboys -- crooning over a pair of his old band's tracks.

Ranging from the pedal-steel guitar and twang of Williams' country classic "Why Don't

You Love Me" to fully orchestrated instrumental pieces such as "To Kill A Man,"

"The Hi-Lo Country" soundtrack fuses elements of traditional country sound with

Burwell's updated compositions.

The film stars Woody Harrelson and Patricia Arquette, and it features Nelson in the role

of a wolf bounty hunter.

"I hunt wolves for bounties in New Mexico. It was a lot of fun: I got to horse around on a

four-wheel all over a New Mexico ranch," Nelson, 65, said. "I got to sling my buddies

around. I had Woody Harrelson there and riding with me, hanging on for dear life."

Rausch, who makes a cameo appearance in the film, said recording the Bob Wills

chestnuts "San Antonio Rose" (RealAudio

excerpt) and "A Maiden's Prayer" presented no difficulty at all.

"We did the tunes we've done every night for 40 years. It wasn't any stretch for me to

record them," said Rausch, 71, who still plays upward of 60 shows a year.

"Those songs, of course, have always been favorites of mine even though we do them

every night. 'San Antonio Rose' has been included in several different movie projects,

but I don't think 'A Maiden's Prayer' has ever been used in a movie before."