Watch: Spotify’s ‘Drawn & Recorded’ series, narrated by T Bone Burnett

T Bone Burnett
T Bone Burnett

What inspired the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit?” Who’s the only street musician in outer space? Is rapper T.I. an angel from heaven? And did Neil Young really once back Rick James? These tales and others come to (animated) life in the new video series that debuted today on Spotify, “Drawn & Recorded: Modern Myths of Music.” Narrated by Grammy-winning musician and producer T Bone Burnett, the 10 episodes are quick, bright and drolly funny.

With none topping 4 minutes, Burnett, in his deadpan rasp, narrates stories about Kurt Cobain, Blind Willie Johnson, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Louis Armstrong, Motorhead and others — all tales plucked from the dusty cupboards of biographies and lore. You might have heard some, but the animation by Drew Christie and the wry writing from journalist/producer Bill Flanagan and Christie make them a delight.

The series, produced by the former head of MTV/VH1 and CMT, Van Toffler in conjunction with a new digital content studio, Gunpowder & Sky, may only just be getting started. Burnett told Billboard he would like to do “hundreds of them” — and also tabbed the Blind Willie Johnson episode as a must-see. “It’s one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of in my whole life,” he said. “Willie Johnson’s story takes in space and time and music and technology — it’s a huge story.”

||| Watch: All 10 episodes via Spotify

Recaps of the episodes:

Blind Willie Johnson: Blind Willie in Space – Blind Willie Johnson saw only darkness, darkness that he poured into music, the blues. Blind Willie Johnson lived a tragic life and died a young man. But at least one of Blind Willie’s recordings will live on forever .., voyaging through the darkness of space. Into eternity.

ODB: Ol’ Dirty Hero – He might have been a ‘bastard’ to many, but to one little girl in Brooklyn, Ol’ Dirty, was nothing short of a superhero, a guardian angel in grills.

Kurt Cobain: Teen Spirit – Find out how the scent of a woman inspired Kurt Cobain to write an anthem for the ages.

Louis Armstrong: Satchmo & Nixon – How did jazz legend, Louis Armstrong, make then-Vice President Richard Nixon his drug mule?

The Allman Brothers: Foot Shootin’ Party – With a little help from brother, Duane, Gregg Allman takes aim at an unpopular war but ends up shooting himself in the foot… literally.

Rolling Stones & Brian Jones: Death By Water – Brian Jones founded The Rolling Stones. But once fame and fortune visited upon the group, Brian had trouble keeping his head above water. Mick Jagger threw his friend and bandmate a lifeline. But could Brian Jones reach it?

Motorhead: Lemmy’s Revenge – A mutton-chopped bike-riding speed-freak is hell-bent on revenge. Motorhead is on the move… and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

Neil Young & Rick James: Neil Young’s First Supergroup – The Vietnam-era draft broke up one of rock and roll’s ultimate odd couples though after the split each would go on to become an icon in his own right.

Merle Haggard: The Lonesome Fugitive – When Johnny Cash played San Quentin, he inspired a prisoner in the audience… and another country legend was born.
T.I. & Creed: The Angel T.I. – When Creed frontman, Scott Stapp, fell hard, the rapper, T.I., grew wings and saved his life.

||| Watch: “The Angel T.I.” and “Kurt Cobain – Smells Like Teen Spirit”