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Publisher's Summary

"Racism is a disease of white people, and I don't intend to be quiet about it." (Albert Einstein)

“I agree with Einstein about that, and I don't intend to be quiet about it either.” (T Bone Burnett)

Legendary Grammy Award-winning producer and towering musical icon T Bone Burnett speaks plainly, which is all the more reason why his stunning new Words + Music, The Confederacy: Truth and Reconciliation, lands with such force. And his songs, delivered straight from the heart, carry with them the weight of unvarnished truth and the wisdom he’s gathered from a lifetime.

Through performance of his own words and music, in just a little more than 90 minutes runtime, T Bone confronts the choking influence of white supremacy in the United States - from its inception to its current state - reckoning with the musical, political, and personal influences that have shaped his career and his understanding of the human spirit in America. Part history, part personal essay, it is above all a call to action: to reject white supremacy and reconcile our nation’s racist past.

Delivered in his steadfast, gritty voice, T Bone’s meticulously crafted prose recounts the horrors of our nation’s history, its far-reaching, systematic oppression of African Americans to this day, the delusion of grandeur much of Anglo-America still suffers from, and the critical need for personal and societal change if we are to redeem ourselves in any capacity - and survive as a people. All of this T Bone lays bare, not by high-and-mighty finger pointing but through a sense of shared destiny and faith in each other. T Bone’s Words + Music is an honest hand reaching out for ours, urging us to grapple through this, mindfully, together. His words are further punctuated by his own heart-rending music, seamlessly woven in and out of his storytelling, and building upon his open plea. Each song, including “River of Love”, “Quicksand”, and “Hefner and Disney”, is thoughtfully plucked from his prolific catalog.

As T Bone connects the dots for us using well-established facts, personal experience, and skillful songwriting, we are drawn to a resounding truth: that although our past is undeniably paved with unspeakable ills, they must be spoken; denying it only compounds the problem. As T Bone rightly concludes, we are all at a difficult crossroads. But his solution could not resonate any clearer: the path forward requires a hard look within. Join T Bone Burnett and listen to his call.

“Let's make a future where we all want to live.”

“Let's make a past we don't have to forgive.”

(T Bone Burnett)

©2020 T Bone Burnett (P)2020 Audible Originals LLC

Our favorite moments from The Confederacy: Truth and Reconciliation

"Music doesn't lie..."
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"We stand on a precipice…"
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"I've never forgotten that moment..."
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  • The Confederacy: Truth and Reconciliation
  • "Music doesn't lie..."
  • The Confederacy: Truth and Reconciliation
  • "We stand on a precipice…"
  • The Confederacy: Truth and Reconciliation
  • "I've never forgotten that moment..."

About the Creator and Performer

With 50 years’ experience in music and entertainment, T Bone Burnett has earned an unparalleled reputation as an innovative artist, songwriter, producer, performer, film and concert producer, record company owner, and artists’ advocate. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Burnett grew up in Fort Worth, Texas where he first began writing songs and making records as a teenager. In the mid-1970s, Burnett was traveling the country as a musician and record producer when he was asked by Bob Dylan to play guitar in his band on the now-legendary Rolling Thunder Revue tour. That experience led Burnett to form the Alpha Band with David Mansfield and Steven Soles, making three acclaimed albums with the trio before releasing a string of critically acclaimed solo records in the 1980s. Toward the end of that decade, Burnett displayed his unique abilities to effectively meld music with film, producing the groundbreaking all-star music special, Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night.
Burnett has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and 13 Grammy Awards. He’s worked and collaborated with musicians spanning many genres, such as the aforementioned Bob Dylan, Elton John, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, B.B. King, Tony Bennett, k.d. lang, Elvis Costello, The Civil Wars, Taylor Swift, Ryan Bingham, Counting Crows, Steve Earle, and Leon Russell. Burnett’s highly successful and acclaimed work in film throughout the past 30 years includes his collaboration with the Coen Brothers on The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Ladykillers, Inside Llewyn Davis, and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, as well as Cold Mountain, The Hunger Games, Walk The Line, and Crazy Heart, for which he served as one of the film’s producers.
His work in television includes serving as the executive music producer and composer for the HBO series True Detective and the first season of the ABC television series, Nashville. In 2014, T Bone handpicked a diverse group of artists to form a band and compose music for newly unearthed Bob Dylan lyrics written at the time of the artist’s historic Basement Tapes recordings. These sessions resulted in the Burnett-produced Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes album and the accompanying Lost Songs documentary on Showtime. Burnett was nominated for Emmy awards for the scores of True Detective and for his work with Jack White and Robert Redford on American Epic: a multi-part, multimedia project that explores the history of music in America, as well as its global roots.
His work as a recording artist continues with an ambitious three-album series in collaboration with drummer Jay Bellerose and keyboardist Keefus Ciancia, The Invisible Light. The first volume, Acoustic Space, was released in 2019 and the second will be released in early 2021.

Foreword by Caroline Randall Williams

Caroline Randall Williams is a multi-genre writer, educator, and performance artist in Nashville Tennessee, where she is a writer-in-residence at Vanderbilt University. She is co-author of the NAACP Image Award-winning cookbook Soul Food Love. Her debut collection of poetry, Lucy Negro, Redux has been turned into a ballet by the Nashville Ballet—Caroline performed her poetry as an integral member of the cast, all set to an original score by multi-Grammy nominee Rhiannon Giddens. Named by Southern Living as "One of the 50 People changing the South," the Cave Canem fellow has been published and featured in multiple journals, essay collections, and news outlets, including The Iowa Review, The Massachusetts Review, Cherry Bombe, Garden and Gun, Essence, and The New York Times. Most recently, she was ranked by The Root as one of the 100 most influential African Americans of 2020.

What listeners say about The Confederacy: Truth and Reconciliation

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Preaching to the choir

My wife is a black woman from Brazil. I've grown up in a predominantly white area on the west coast although I did spend a few years in East New Orleans pre Katrina. I don't know any of the racisms he seems so convinced we need to purge ourselves of. I know there are a few troglodytes out there who might claim white power...But I don't know any. The people I know who have skin darker than my own, just want to be treated equal. We diminish them when we patronize or give them special status. I respect T Bones music. The music was the only redeemable thing on here. For a musician to go through the laundry list of accomplished black musicians ...is like hearing someone extolling the benefits of water in the desert. It's somewhat irksome to hear a white man preaching this. I'd much rather hear Keb Mo or a similar black musician of less acclaim relate his experience in the business. His heart is right, but the production is just a bit too self righteous and preachy (of obvious truths) for it to be enjoyable.

40 people found this helpful

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The Confederacy: Truth and Reconciliation

Being born in the South in the Forties during WWII, I’m old enough to remember the White Only & Colored drinking fountains, bathrooms when going downtown as a small child & inquiring about why they were there. I remember that POC weren’t allowed to sit & eat @ lunch counters but could order food to take out & eat elsewhere. I remember many places POC weren’t allowed to enter or go. Even though I wasn’t old enough to go to school, I noticed this & wondered why. Being white, even though my family was lower income, did indeed have it’s privilege. I questioned this then & still do into my seventh decade of life. In my heart, even @ a young age, it felt wrong. My mind has yet to change. So I can readily identify with Mr. Burnett & his own recollections & feelings about inequality & all that goes with it. I hope I live to see a more noticeable change in the direction of our country but sadly I’m not certain that I will. I enjoyed this presentation!

30 people found this helpful

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Just my Opinion

This is one person’s misinterpretation of American History. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that does not make it correct

21 people found this helpful

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SHOCKED

T Bone, supports the erasing of our history and BLACK LIVES MATTER TERRORISTS! I'M SHOCKED!! If they were really interested in saving black lives they would be protesting ALL the murders happening from BLACK GANGS murdering BABIES, small children and other BLACK PEOPLE in cities like Chicago, Miami, LA, New York and almost every other big city. As for ending a celebration because someone is offended, really! I know people who are offended by Valentines day, Christmas, New Years, Ramadan, Mother's/Father's days, birthdays and probably can find someone for every other holiday, observance and celebration that is held in the world. Guess we need to STOP ALL CELEBRATIONS, GET REAL!! Those who want to erase our past will NEVER learn the lessons it has to teach us and will only REPEAT it. What we need is a whole lot of learning and compassion. Spending more money to keep our heritage, its statues and locations in good condition is a GOOD thing for our children, grandchildren and so on, to learn the truth about their history so they can be better people than our ancestors and us, is what needs to be done.

20 people found this helpful

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There really are plenty of non racist white people.

Nothing like being lectured on how horrible you are by a rich person. I’m really tired of the virtue signaling.
Continued good luck with remodeling your Nashville mansion with your Hollywood wife. Here in my low middle class, racially diverse townhouse community, we’re doing just fine.

18 people found this helpful

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Makes me wanna listen and change my thinking!

I thought this was a good understanding of our history in the United States on racism. White supremacy is alive and well in this country. This is known by our brothers and sisters of color. Those of white privilege struggle to see it, unless they are willing to listen and step out of there privilege they will continue to struggle. This essay has opened my eye to knowing how this has occurred and continues today. This essay will cause to think and explore the world around you. It is thought proving at the lest.

16 people found this helpful

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Deep muscular connection, seriously

T-Bone was known to me only by his soundtrack for The Yellow King (?) — I mean True Detective. Very powerful soundtrack.
Listening to The Confederacy: Truth and Reconciliation immersed me even deeper and more strongly.
The intensity of T-Bone’s instrumentation and his vocals truly got me off my lazy brain and encouraged me to involve all my power- mental, spiritual, and chi- to be more assertive in breaking some emotional bones, mine included— so they might heal to more justice.
This is a time of truth for all “white” people. Let’s search honestly and optimistically for our own part of this and make repairs.
This is our responsibility and our opportunity.

Truth and Reconciliation proceedings in South Africa were recorded.

16 people found this helpful

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Outstanding

“...is not just witnessing, not just listening. He’s looking backward and calling out his histories. He’s doing the essential work of using a position of privilege to question not just how we remember the past but how the past did it’s dirty work...”
—foreword

15 people found this helpful

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Truth for Our Times

Beautiful, heart felt. This man has some great music in this recording...and the very best of messages about deciding to live beyond fear and hate.

14 people found this helpful

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COMFORTING

Emotions are high, as uncertainty looms over our heads with COVID 19, police conducting themselves as white supremacist State actors and a highly toxic political apparatus. This production makes me feel hopeful for the future.

10 people found this helpful