The Real Dirt
on Farmer John

dir. Taggart Siegel


The Real Dirt on Farmer John is a highly acclaimed documentary that profiles the eccentric life of John Peterson along with the struggles and eventual transformation of the family farm he inherited. Drawing upon 25 years of footage shot by director and long time friend Taggart Siegal, Real Dirt is the story of a farmer whose varied interests (writer, artist, and occasional cross-dresser) cause him to be misunderstood by his neighbors, at one point even branded a satanist. At the same time, it’s a story of his mother’s love for him and their farm, and the power it has to sustain him through good times and bad.


My original soundtrack leans on dobro, banjo, guitars, fiddle, and pump organ and underscores the film’s nostalgic and dramatic elements. There is additional licensed music from The Dirty Three.


Real Dirt has won more than 30 festival awards and many rave reviews. It also received the first ever “Reel Current Al Gore Award” at the Nashville Film Festival. It has become a cult phenomenon, having spawned cookbooks, instructional dvd’s, audio cd’s, and tote bags. It is distributed internationally by Gaiam.


On a personal note, I hired Megan Sorensen to play violin on this score. Not too long afterward we got hitched.


“unbelievably special…a real and gripping story with insight and humor.”
—Al Gore

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