Here is an interesting video with Alison Krauss, Robert Plant, and T Bone Burnett (who produced the album) speaking more about the process of making their collaborative 2007 album, Raising Sand. It relates to the subject of an earlier post, Krauss and Plant on Artistic Collaboration. (As well as this post, Yo-Yo Ma on Artistic Collaboration.)
I think this album is another example of artists producing something new and fresh as they deliberately embrace the work of those who have gone before them. In this process, the three (Krauss, Plant, and Burnett) seem to have had simultaneously in mind the spirit of the original artists and their songs, their own present-day musical intuitions, as well as the context of contemporary America with its similarities with and differences from the era in which this music was originally made.
We can see in this that paying careful attention and giving respect to the work of earlier artists--having the humility to follow in their footsteps--rather than stifling creativity, can actually serve as a strong and invigorating catalyst for producing something fresh and original and also delightfully accessible to a broad audience.
The Rounder Records promotional web site for the album describes the result as, "an album that uncovers popular music’s elemental roots while sounding effortlessly, breathtakingly modern."
When an artist remains trapped in the closed-in solipsism that seems to be encouraged in at least some modern art-world circles, I doubt if anything so enduring and broadly appealing (and therefore having such broad impact) could result.
For another musical example of the old and the new being creatively combined together to make something delightful, see Ray Charles, "Oh What a Beautiful Morning."
[And for more on the theme of the old and the new coming together, see here]
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