Rob Brunner
May 12, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Your local CD store probably carries the music from Dumb and Dumber and B.A.P.S., but until now it didn’t have the soundtrack to one of the all-time great movie musicals: Nashville. Robert Altman’s expansive 1975 take on showbiz, politics, and country music is widely considered a masterpiece, and the film’s assortment of original tunes were a major part of its aura. ”We had this problem,” remembers Altman. ”We needed songs. I wanted a kind of a cross section of the reality of Nashville. You know, there are bad songs that come out of Nashville and there are good songs, and that’s what I was looking for.”

Altman’s solution was to have cast members write and perform their own material, resulting in a perfect balance of good and goofy. Keith Carradine’s ”I’m Easy” became a top 20 hit and earned him a Best Original Song Oscar nod, while Ronee Blakley’s ”Dues” and ”My Idaho Home” are top-notch country pop. Even Henry Gibson’s spot-on novelty tunes are classics in their own ridiculous way.

Amazingly, the soundtrack has never been available on CD, but MCA Nashville finally got around to reissuing it (on May 2). ”We never had much [industry] support for the film, so I’m not surprised,” says Altman about the belated CD release. ”It was [all] very sloppily handled; nobody much cared about this movie when we first came out with it.” Meanwhile, Altman is returning to country music for his next movie—the Richard Gere romantic comedy Dr. T and the Women—which will feature original music from Lyle Lovett. Let’s hope we won’t have to wait 25 years for that CD.

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