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Tree Adams on capturing the musical highs and lows of “Belushi”

Tree Adams (Belushi)

Welcome back to the Spool’s weekly interview podcast, More of a Comment, Really‚Ķ, where editor-in-chief Clint Worthington talks to actors, filmmakers, composers and other figures from the realm of film and television.

During his all-too-brief stint on this Earth, John Belushi was one of comedy’s greatest voices. A blustering buffoon one minute, a deeply intelligent trickster the next, Belushi’s work on SNL, The Blues Brothers, and Animal  House made him a household name in the blink of an eye — before his life was tragically cut short at the tender age of 33 by the very lifestyle that success gave him.

RJ Cutler’s documentary Belushi is a stylish, straightforward chronicling of the man’s life — what drove him, the good and the bad others saw in him — fueled chiefly by archival commentary from Belushi’s widow. Another major driver, though, is the blues and funk-heavy score by Tree Adams, a BMI-Award winning composer who’s scored a host of TV shows from Californication and NCIS: New Orleans to The 100.

Before he was a composer, Adams plied his trade as a touring musician (and still does), and brings a lot of that rock and roll energy to Belushi’s score. There are the obvious Blues Brothers-fueled jams, to be sure – Adams leans back on his extensive background to capture the free-wheeling highs of Belushi’s meteoric rise to fame But the score as a whole seeks to capture Belushi’s own musical background while also honoring the low points of his life, including his flagging film career and his eventually fatal drug problems.

Still, Belushi was a man filled with life even as he hurtled toward death, and Adams’ score accompanies those swings and roundabouts beautifully in Cutler’s documentary.

I spoke with Tree about his long composing history, the connections between Belushi’s score and his own blues background, the graphic novel he’s got cooking, and a whole lot more.

You can find Tree Adams at his official website here.

Belushi is currently streaming on Showtime, and you can stream the original soundtrack score (released by Passion Pictures Ltd.) to the documentary on Spotify and other streaming services.

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Clint Worthington

Clint Worthington is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Spool, as well as one of the founders of the website/podcast Alcohollywood in 2011. He is also a Senior Writer at Consequence of Sound, as well as the co-host/producer of Travolta/Cage. You can also find his freelance work at IndieWire, UPROXX, Syfy Wire, The Takeout, and Crooked Marquee.