Hedwig and the Angry Inch Soundtrack
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is, hands down, the best soundtrack in my CD closet — better than Saturday Night Fever, better than Garden State, yes, better than Grease. Well, there is Help! and A Hard Day’s Night, and Pete Townshend’s rock operas rock … so let’s say it’s my favorite soundtrack of the last thirty years.
Movie synopsis, courtesy of Wikipedia: Hedwig and the Angry Inch is an off-Broadway musical theater play (1998) and film (2001) about a fictional rock and roll band fronted by a transsexual singer. The text is by John Cameron Mitchell and the music and lyrics are by Stephen Trask. The story draws on the life of Jayne County, the original transgender rocker, the androgynous glam rock era of David Bowie (who produced the original run of the show), early punk rocker Iggy Pop, and the gender bender fashions of the early 1980s. The show was repeatedly workshopped by Mitchell and Trask at New York's famed Squeezebox Club before opening at the Jane Street Theater (located in the Hotel Riverview) on February 14, 1998.
What makes the soundtrack great? It has some of the best rock and glam and punk tunes released in 2001. The music is as much a character of the film as are John Cameron Mitchell and Michael Pitt and Miriam Shor. But it works on its own, too; in fact, I fell in love with the album a month or two before I saw the film. (Damn, I wish I’d seen the stage play.)
John Cameron Mitchell penned the lyrics and Stephen Trask wrote the music. Mitchell sings all of Hedwig's songs, while Trask sings the Tommy Gnosis tunes. And Bob Mould plays guitar. How cool is that?
Hedwig and the Angry Inch — the movie and the soundtrack — have long been part of my wannabeau litmus test, along with R.E.M., Patch Adams, Letterman vs. Leno, and The DaVinci Code. I don’t know if I could fully love a man who didn’t enjoy the movie or soundtrack. Deep, aren’t I?
Forget that this is a soundtrack. Just listen to the songs. It was hard to pick just three; I feel guilty for not including “Origin of Love” or “Midnight Radio” or “Nailed” or “Exquisite Corpse” or … well, you get the idea. It’s that good, kids.
“Angry Inch” gives you the background of Hedwig and her angry inch. I hope you’ll be singing “Six inches forward / And five inches back / I got an angry inch” all day long.
There are certain songs I must listen to while getting dolled up for a night on the town. “Wig in a Box” is one of those tunes. I get to have a little cabaret moment as the eyeliner dries, singing and dancing and prancing all over the townhouse. I’d love to be Miss Beehive 1963. (That’s not Rachel Griffith in the video; it’s John Cameron Mitchell.)
The Tommy Gnosis version of “Wicked Little Town,” sung by Stephen Trask, is the loveliest song on the album. It’s on my Sunday morning playlist; the sadness and heartache and letting go is perfect for those early morning drives.
The Hedwig love doesn’t stop with the soundtrack. Wig in a Box, a tribute album from 2003 that benefited the Harvey Milk School, includes the best performer list in years: our beloved Minus 5 with Cyndi Lauper, Rufus Wainwright, Frank Black, Robyn Hitchcock, Bob Mould, Sleater-Kinney with Fred Schneider, The Breeders, Spoon, Yo La Tengo with Yoko Ono, The Bens (Kweller, Folds, and Lee), They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Richman — even Stephen Colbert. Click the link and buy a copy; it’s brilliant.
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