It seems like we’ve been talking about the Stephen King/John Mellencamp collaboration Ghost Brothers of Darkland County for years now, but finally we can all get a look – and listen – at it when a deluxe edition DVD/CD is released next year.
Per Rolling Stone, the DVD/CD, featuring the soundtrack, handwritten lyrics, and a mini-documentary about the making of the musical, is hitting shelves on March 19, 2013. The soundtrack features guest singers Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Taj Mahal, Kris Kristofferson, and Mellencamp himself. See the full track listing and listen to Costello’s “That’s Me” below.
“That’s Me,” Elvis Costello
“That’s Who I Am,” Neko Case
“So Goddamn Smart,” Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin, Sheryl Crow
“Wrong, Wrong, Wrong About Me,” Elvis Costello
“Brotherly Love,” Ryan Bingham, Will Dailey
“How Many Days,” Kris Kristofferson
“You Are Blind,” Ryan Bingham
“Home Again,” Sheryl Crow, Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin, Taj Mahal
“You Don’t Know Me,” Rosanne Cash
“My Name Is Joe,” Clyde Mulroney
“Tear This Cabin Down,” Taj Mahal
“And Your Days Are Gone,” Sheryl Crow, Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin
“Jukin’,” Sheryl Crow
“What Kind of Man Am I,” Kris Kristofferson, Phil Alvin, Sheryl Crow Dave Alvin, Taj Mahal
“So Goddamn Good,” Phil Alvin, Dave Alvin, Sheryl Crow
“Away From This World,” Sheryl Crow
“Truth,” John Mellencamp
RS also provided a bit of background info:
Mellencamp got the initial idea for the musical in the late Nineties from his own cabin in Bloomington, which he claims is haunted. In the 1930s two brothers got into a fight over a woman at the cabin, and one of them wound up dead. The surviving brother and the woman sped away in a car but crashed into a lake and drowned. “I called up Stephen King and told him I wanted to make a musical out of the thing,” says Mellencamp. “It’s outside both of our wheelhouses.”
King only vaguely knew Mellencamp when he got the call. “He came to my place in Florida, and it was the first time we ever met in person,” says King. “He tuned my guitar and told me this ghost story about a cabin he owned. I loved the idea they were brothers, and then years later history repeats itself. Something in that resonated with me deeply.”
King agreed to write a treatment of the story – which seesaws between two sets of brothers going through a similar struggle 30 years apart at the same cabin – and Mellencamp began writing songs. They agreed early on that the songs wouldn’t move the story forward. “It was Steve’s job to tell the story,” says Mellencamp. “It was my job to develop the characters through songs. That’s different than most musicals. The best example of that is My Fair Lady. They had a story with Pygmalion so they just stuck songs in there.”
As the musical got closer to completion, they brought in producer T-Bone Burnett to help flesh out the music. “The idea was for me to come in and create the vibe,” Burnett says. “We took the songs and cast them with different singers and musicians and began creating what I hoped would be a foggy, ghost sound – something that grew up out of the Mississippi.”
The play had a brief run at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre in April/May of this year, and Broadway is a possibility, although they also think it might work as a movie at some point in the future. “I’d love to see that,” says King. “One of the other reasons I did [it] is that I’m a total whore for musicals. I love Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge, Bugsy Malone. You name it, and I just love it! It appeals to a sentimental side of me.”
Whatever happens, King and Mellencamp are confident they’re nearly done fiddling with it. “At this point I don’t know what else we could do,” says King. “Unless we set it in fucking outer space. Hey, that’s not a bad idea! It could work!”
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