On This Day: ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’ Soundtrack Goes Gold in 2001

by Katie Maloney

Twenty years ago today the soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou? sold 500,000 units and earned gold certification.

If you’re a lover of bluegrass, country, gospel and folk tunes, you need to stop what you’re doing and turn on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack right now. The movie, starring George Clooney, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, and John Turturro, follows the misadventures of three men who escape from a chain gang while imprisoned during the Great Depression.

Music weaves its way through the entire film and plays an important role in the story. The film spares no expense when it comes to depicting realistic sounds from the deep southern regions of America in 1937.

The soundtrack features songs from Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Ralph Stanley, the Fairfield Four, and more.

“Man of Constant Sorrow” from O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Did George Clooney Really Sing In O Brother, Where Art Thou?

One of the most iconic songs from the soundtrack is “Man Of Constant Sorrow.” During the movie, George Clooney leads his band, The Soggy Bottom Boys in singing the song. Scriptwriters named the movie’s band after real-life bluegrass group, the Foggy Mountain Boys. None of the actors really sing for the soundtrack. Instead, the voals are provided by Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen and Pat Enright. The actors lip-synced their parts for most of the film.

Recordings of “Man of Constant Sorrow” date back to 1913 and artists have recorded different versions of the songs since then including Bob Dylan in the 1960s. Lyrics include, “I am a man of constant sorrow. I’ve seen trouble all my life…For six long years, I’ve been in trouble. No pleasure here, On earth I’ve found.”

The song from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack made its way into the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in 2002. The soundtrack had sold more than 8 million copies by October 2007. Additionally, the album won a Grammy for Album of the Year and two CMA Awards, for Album of the Year and Album of the Year (Production).

Alison Krauss sings “Down to the River to Pray.”