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'The Hottest State' Gets an All-Star Soundtrack

Jesse Harris wrote the <em>Hottest State</em> soundtrack in its entirety, and enlisted a star-packed roster to perform it.
Jesse Harris wrote the Hottest State soundtrack in its entirety, and enlisted a star-packed roster to perform it.

When Ethan Hawke was in the process of adapting his novel The Hottest State into a film, the writer/actor/director turned to longtime friend Jesse Harris to assemble its all-important soundtrack. Rather than merely write an orchestral score and compile an assortment of other artists' songs, Harris wrote the soundtrack in its entirety and enlisted a star-packed roster to perform it.

The Hottest State's soundtrack — integral to the movie's plot — contains a handful of Harris' own performances, as well some of his score. But the album is especially notable for the exclusive performances by its guests, who include Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, Feist, Emmylou Harris, M. Ward, Cat Power and others. Harris commissioned the covers himself, even coaching Nelson through a recording session in which the country legend showed up, heard the song for the first time and nailed the finished version on the third take.

Harris, who also released a new studio album (Feel) earlier this summer, recently sat down to discuss his involvement in the film — he also appears as an actor — as well as the process by which he wrote and commissioned its music.

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