Canadian country artist Colter Wall is once again receiving some worthy exposure via a critically-acclaimed film the promises to be an Oscar contender. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a dark comedy written and directed by Martin McDonagh, and starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes and Peter Dinklage. Released on November 10th in the United States, it’s about a mother who takes on the local police department when they fail to solve her daughter’s murder.
Colter Wall’s “Sleeping on the Blacktop” plays prominently at the beginning of the film’s racy and explosive trailer (see below). The same song also appeared on the soundtrack for 2016’s Hell or High Water, which went on to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Three Billboards is also expected to do well come awards season, already having won the top prize at the Toronto Film Festival, and holding a 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Saskatoon lawyer Kurt Dahl negotiated the deal for the song to be placed in the film.
“It’s pretty crazy, a huge breakthrough for him,” Dahl told the Star Phoenix. “Both of those movies are really smart and hip. It speaks to how the music is, too. It’s a good fit. I think he really is the real deal and people really see that. There’s a certain authenticity that people always want in their music.”
Apparently the deal almost fell through because the filmmakers wanted an instrumental version of the track. But since “Sleeping on the Blacktop” was recorded live with producer Dave Cobb, it wouldn’t be easy to separate the vocals out. But they liked the song so much, it was included anyway. The score for the film was handled by Carter Burwell who is known for working with the Coen Brothers, and the music editor was John Warhurst.
Other songs that appear on the soundtrack include Townes Van Zandt’s “Buckskin Stallion Blues,” Joan Baez’s version of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and “Walk Away Renee” from the Four Tops, which also is featured heavily in the trailer. The soundtrack for the film will be released on November 17th.
Due to the exposure via film, Colter Wall’s “Sleeping on the Blacktop” is by far his biggest song on streaming services, receiving nearly 3.4 million streams on Spotify so far.