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Two Songs That Led Keith Carradine From Screen To Broadway

Keith Carradine (right) performs with the cast of <em>Hands on a Hardbody</em> during its spring 2013 run in New York.
Chad Batka
Keith Carradine (right) performs with the cast of Hands on a Hardbody during its spring 2013 run in New York.

The Broadway musical Hands on a Hardbody wasn't your typical Broadway musical; it was about a group of Texans trying to win a new truck at a local dealership.

Actor Keith Carradine played JD Drew, one of the contestants. Though the show closed in April after just 56 performances, Carradine received rave reviews and a Tony nomination for best actor.

It's not the first nomination for the 63-year-old, who's been acting on Broadway for decades in shows like Hair and The Will Rogers Follies.

Carradine is a part of acting royalty; his father, John, and his brother David were both famous actors. He's been acting steadily for decades, both on film and on TV. One of his most famous TV roles in recent years was as Wild Bill Hickok on the HBO TV show Deadwood.

But Carradine is also a musician. He won an Academy Award for best original song for "I'm Easy," a song that he wrote for Robert Altman's 1975 film Nashville — at age 19.

He tells weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden that winning the award was a life-changing event.

Interview Highlights

How winning the Academy Award changed his career

"Well, I was on the A list — for about six months. One has to understand that in our business, that kind of bright, shining moment tends to fade rather quickly. It can be a shock to the system when you suddenly realize how quickly people might forget, but it put me into a position to be introduced to and be in the room with some extraordinary people. And some of those encounters led to a lot of what I'm proudest of about the career that I've had and the kinds of people with whom I've had the opportunity to work."

What it was like to play Wild Bill Hickok on Deadwood

"It was an actor's gift. You know, it was one of these things that we actors, this is what we crave. All I want is to be able to speak words of poetry and those occasions are rare and when you get a chance to be involved in something like that, you soak up every second."

How he was drawn to the role of JD Drew by a song

"That's the first thing I heard when I was introduced to this show ... I heard that song, and I said, 'Ah, yeah, I have to do this. I just have to do this.'

"That song so spoke to me when I heard it because it's kind of my experience of America. As I've driven across this country over the years, you know, I've watched this kind of homogenization of our culture take place. We're losing the individual feeling for places because of everything becoming the same, everywhere you go. And there's that beautiful line: 'If it looks the same everywhere you go, how do you know when you've gotten home?' It's a great song."

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