02 November 2007

Mix Tape Friday: Let's Go to the Movies

I’ve spent this week obsessively listening to the I’m Not Here soundtrack. It takes a spectacular album to draw me away from a new R.E.M. disc (that live album is to die for, kiddies!) — something like this soundtrack. Between this disc and catching Help! over the weekend, my mind has been a darkened movie theater.

I love soundtracks. I’m one of those who stays until the very end of the credits to check the list of songs. If I rent a movie, I freeze those final credit frames so I can jot down the songs I liked. I enjoy a good cover tune, especially from an unexpected artist. I’ve discovered now-favorite bands (Clem Snide, for one) while watching films.

Song selection can make or break a scene. Would we love Lloyd Dobler — even remember the character’s name — if he hadn’t lifted that boom box and blared “In Your Eyes”? Zack Braff did well with Garden State — probably helped greatly by the hip soundtrack. Angelo Badalamenti and Julee Cruise set the feel for Twin Peaks. (None of these films are represented in today’s mix tape; figured you have them.)

One of my fantasy jobs, not surprisingly, is music editor for films. Can you imagine all the play R.E.M. would get? I developed this tape in three acts. Act One — the first twelve songs — sets the tone. Act Two is filled with the angst and conflict that drives the plot, while Act Three ramps it up again with rafter-blasters and more than a hint o' Bond.

Isaac Hayes: Theme from Shaft
Shaft, 1971

Curtis Mayfield: Superfly
Superfly, 1972

Snoop Dogg feat. Mr. Kane + Bootsy Collins: Undercova Funk
Undercover Brother, 2002

The Beatles: Help!
Help!, 1965

The Plimsouls: A Million Miles Away
Valley Girl, 1983

Cat Power: Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
I’m Not There, 2007

Joe Jackson: Memphis
Mike’s Murder, 1983

Tim Curry: Sweet Transvestite
Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975

Cat Stevens: I Think I See the Light
Harold and Maude, 1971

R.E.M.: The Great Beyond
Man on the Moon, 1999

eels: Mr. E's Beautiful Blues
Road Trip, 2000

Grant Lee Buffalo: The Whole Shebang
Velvet Goldmine, 1998

David Bowie + The Pat Metheny Group: This Is Not America
The Falcon and the Snowman, 1985

Concrete Blonde: Everybody Knows
Pump up the Volume, 1990

Badly Drawn Boy: Something to Talk About
About a Boy, 2002

Jeff Tweedy: Simple Twist of Fate
I’m Not There, 2007

Beck: Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004

Kate Bush: This Woman's Work
She’s Having a Baby, 1988

Neil Young: Philadephia
Philadelphia, 1994

Gary Jules: Mad World
Donnie Darko, 2004

Elliott Smith: Miss Misery
Good Will Hunting, 1997

Seu Jorge: Rebel Rebel
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, 2004

Stephen Trask: Wicked Little Town (Tommy Gnosis Version)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, 2001

Angie Stone: Holding Back the Years
Love and Basketball, 1999

Rufus Wainwright: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
Zoolander, 2001

Michael Stipe + Rain Phoenix
Happiness, 1998

Paul Westerberg: Dyslexic Heart
Singles, 1992

Urge Overkill: Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon
Pulp Fiction, 1994

Stephen Malkmus + The Million Dollar Bashers: Ballad of a Thin Man
I’m Not There, 2007

Geto Boys: Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta
Office Space, 1999

Paul McCartney & Wings: Live and Let Die
Live and Let Die, 1973

Prince: Let’s Go Crazy
Purple Rain, 1984

White Zombie: I’m Your Boogie Man
The Crow: City of Angels, 1996

Green Day: Espionage
The Spy Who Shagged Me, 1999

Shirley Bassey: Goldfinger
Goldfinger, 1965

Is there any original song better than "Goldfinger"? Forty-two years old, and it's still one freakin' cool song. I always have to sing along, throwing my arms out dramatically. Don't we all?

Speaking of the dramatic in film, I cannot listen to Neil Young's "Philadelphia" without sobbing. Its use in the closing collage is heartbreaking. I think it's one of the five loveliest songs Neil has ever recorded.

Several of today's tracks reduce always make me cry. When Beck's cover of "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes" played at the end of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (one of the Cup 25, by the way), I sobbed my last breakup tears over the Beloved Ex. Kate Bush's "Woman's Work" works beautifully in that scene with Kevin Bacon as he's pushed out of the delivery room, and I get choked up whenever I hear those opening notes.

eels' "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues" is becoming this generation's "Someone Like You." I think its first soundtrack appearance was in "Road Trip," and it's since been heard in Along Came Polly, A Guy Thing and (my favorite) Jump Tomorrow. Great song. eels is becoming a regular on the soundtrack track — deservedly so. His unique tunes work well in films.

As I wrote last October, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is one of the best original soundtracks in years, maybe a decade or more. You don’t need to see the movie (although you should) to enjoy the album. It’s great rock, fab glam, kids.

When I was with our campus radio station in 1981, "Sweet Transvestite" was consistently one of the five most requested tunes. Pretty impressive that a song then six years old was still hot on college radio.

What interests me most as I look back over today's songs is how some of these are as fabulous as the movie — yet in several instances the soundtrack was WAY better than the movie (see: Concrete Blonde's Leonard Cohen cover) — and, in a couple of instances, I love the tracks but have never seen the flicks.

Okay, kids, you must do one thing for me before you're allowed to download a single tune: Crank up "Let's Go Crazy" and chair-dance your office a** off. And keep that boogie goin' for White Zombie; you gotta love Rob taking on KC.

Too busy to download each track? Grab the zip file.


Here are two great not-quite-soundtracks by my boys.

While the movie Batman Returns was in production, producers asked rock bands to submit potential themes for the movie. R.E.M. recorded Winged Mammal Theme," but it was rejected (no counting for taste in Hollywood). My beloveds later released it with the “Drive” CD single. It’s a fun theme; love Michael’s distorted vocals.

R.E.M. plays great, unexpected covers. Mike Mills and Peter Buck performed "The Ballad of Cat Ballou" during a 1988 Rockline appearance.

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At 11/02/2007 08:12:00 AM, Blogger bigshoulders said...

great mix, beth!
i thought i was the only person in the world to buy the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack. it still holds up!

cheers and happy friday!

At 11/02/2007 09:03:00 AM, Blogger Mother Goldstein said...

You are truly a master mixologist - Fridays with Beth are a good thing!

Its funny, happy hour used to be my favorite part of Friday... now Happy hour is just something to do while I listen to your Mixes.

At 11/02/2007 09:32:00 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Hi Beth!

Paul from The Yellow Stereo here, sorry to be off topic, but I remember you mentioning that you were gonna be at The Pipettes show at the Vinyl next week? Was wondering if you were still going to attend because I was able to score a free pass! I'd love to meet up or something at the show! Let me know :)

At 11/02/2007 10:53:00 AM, Blogger Skylers Dad said...

I am probably one of the few around here old enough to remember Cat Ballou, gotta love that cover!

At 11/02/2007 11:45:00 AM, Blogger Splotchy said...

Nice mix, Beth!

I am totally with you on the dramatic interpretation of "Goldfinger". It's when I let the Gay Side Of Splotchy show in all its glory.

If I could add what might be a subgenre of movie soundtracks -- the incredibly cheesy soundtrack song that for some unknown reason one just completely loves.

I don't know if people have these as a rule, but I loved the following:

Tahnee Cain & Tryanglz : Song title? [The lyrics go "It's a mistake, it's mistake, ya ya ya ya"] from The Terminator

The Coupe de Villes - Big Trouble In Little China from (surprise) Big Trouble In Little China

For a completely non-cheesy soundtrack song, I love Lick The Tins' cover of the Elvis song "Can't Help Falling In Love With You" at the end of Some Kind Of Wonderful.

At 11/02/2007 11:55:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

BIG SHOULDERS: I love Velvet Goldmine — the movie and the wonderfully glam soundtrack — and not just because Michael Stipe was one of the producers of the film.

MOTEHR GOLDSTEIN: I like that: It ain't happy hour without a Cup of Coffey Mix Tape!

PAUL: My heart is breaking. I had tix for the October show, which was postponed until next Friday — when I'll be in San Francisco. Let me know next time you come to Atlanta for a show.

SKYLER'S DAD: I have you beat on the age to remember, I believe — and it's a great cover.

SPLOTCHY: I would love to experience The Gay Side o' Splotchy.

At 11/02/2007 12:35:00 PM, Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

You have really outdone yourself this time, Beth. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have our own personal soundtracks to our lives? (I guess when they make the biopic, we will.)

Actually one of my favourite sound tracks is for the Scottish film, Local Hero. Mark Knoppler does absolutely haunting guitarwork on it.

Wig in a Box, which you mention in your Hedwid piece, really is outstanding. I adore Rufus singing The Origins of Love.

At 11/02/2007 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Erik Donald France said...

Wow, awe-some-and-then-some~~~~~

On SB's "Goldfinger" -- I managed to take the whole soundtrack -- record -- to kindergarten class for show & tell. It was considered an outrageously risque act. And I've been evil ever since. Haha!

The little Turkish guitar Bond theme loops through my head every day at one point or another, especially when driving. Evil!

At 11/02/2007 01:12:00 PM, Blogger Michael K said...

Love that Plimsouls record. I remember trying to find the soundtrack to Valley Girl when I was a kid but there was some sort of weird distribution problem and you couldn't get it.

At 11/02/2007 01:22:00 PM, Blogger Moxie said...

Love this compilation! The only thing that would make it better is a nice vanilla latte to sip while I watch the zip file download.

Agree with you about some soundtracks being better than the movie - definitely true of Pump Up the Volume. And while I think the original Matrix film is the best, the soundtrack is even better - it's almost always in my car.

Love love LOVE Hedwig! If you get a chance to see it on stage, do it. I saw it in Hollywood with Donovan Leitch and Bijou Phillips in the main roles. The show was amazingly good without inviting comparisons to the original.

At 11/02/2007 01:30:00 PM, Blogger landru said...

Eternal Sunshine is undoubtedly one of the most emotional movie made in a while ... and yet has the "wrapping" of being very intellectual with a sci-fi twist. To me, if you can make all that work and still feel for those people -- or relate to their circumstances -- you've got a truly original story.

Good list this week.

At 11/02/2007 01:32:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

So many good songs on here. You rock. They're gonna put you in the movies. They're gonna make a big star out of you.

One song that I found through a movie that's a huge fave of mine is "Shattered" by Remy Zero. It was played over the closing credits of Suicide Kings...a Jeremy Sisto movie! I heard it was also in Crazy/Beautiful but I have no desire to watch that.

At 11/02/2007 01:54:00 PM, Blogger Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

I was glad to see a Pulp Fiction track. QT's movies always have killer soundtracks. Lots of classic oldies, of course. But, even when it's a band no one's ever heard of at the time -- like his using the Japanese surf-rock group, The, in Kill Bill -- it's still great stuff. The Pulp Fiction soundtrack has been a favorite of mine since first buying it in, what?, '94 or so!

At 11/02/2007 03:07:00 PM, Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

Beth, this just rocks.

I remember at the opening night of the greatest movie of all time "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" (and yes, I know that it may be up for interpretation on the "greatest movie of all time thing".....

Anyway, we all stayed for the credits because our local superstar "Afroman" had his great song "Because I Got High" on the credit run.

Imagine, an entire theater full of white boys singing at the top of our lungs to stoner rap music. Yea, they turned the lights on us so we would leave before we stoked up!

So music and movies just go together and you've done an amazing job, once again, of sharing that with us!

Thanks - you're the B-O-M-B!

At 11/02/2007 03:22:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

BARBARA: I'm flattered! I love the Local Hero soundtrack, but only have it on vinyl — that is, until I read your comment and hopped over to download it. I have a meme to write about a sountrack for my day. Maybe I can get to it soon ... that one, and the dozens more still in my inbox.

ERIK DONALD FRANCE: You were one helluva rocking five-year-old! In a similar vein, I was the only girl in my seventh grade homeroom who got the naughtiness of Pussy Galore.

MICHAEL K: When I was — ahem — an adult, I tried to find a copy of the Valley Girl soundtrack as well, and made it my mission to get all the tracks. Finally completed my mission ... and soon thereafter they issued the CD.

MOXIE: I'll have Barista Brat deliver that latte, doll. I really want to see Hedwig on stage; surely some troupe in Atlanta will put it on soon.

At 11/02/2007 03:24:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

LANDRU: Isn't it a fantastic film? I cannot date a man who doesn't love it; shows a flaw that I know means we won't work.

BECKEYE: All I'm gonna do is act naturally.

BLOWING SH*T UP WITH GAS: I so agree with you about Quentin's soundtracks; they're as brilliant as his films.

KEITH KENNEDY: Damn! I forgot all about Afroman!!! That would have bridged "Superfly" to "Help" better than Snoop Dogg ...

At 11/02/2007 06:24:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

I prefer Wes Anderson's soundtracks to QT's. I prefer Wes Anderson's everything to just about everything else.

At 11/02/2007 06:25:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

Oh. My wife likes the Plimsouls. I give her a hard time for this.

At 11/02/2007 07:52:00 PM, Blogger Artful Dodger said...

Oh yay!!! Movie Soundtracks!! Don't get me started. I have a whole wall section solely devoted to soundtracks. And now you've gone and made me want to see Eternal Sunshine again. And best yet my favorite theater that doesn't allow kids is having free movie night tomorrow!! Double yay!! I think I can hobble in there just to get out of the house. ^_^

At 11/02/2007 08:01:00 PM, Blogger Earl Cootie said...

I'm so happy you included Cat Stevens. That's from one of my all-time favorite movies, and not only because I'm an unabashed Cat Stevens freak. Ah, but I do so annoy my friends who watch it with me, because for me it's a sing-along.

At 11/02/2007 08:47:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

I do that freeze frame thing too to jot down songs. Hedwig rules as you know, you still need to see the 'making of' though as well. Eternal Sunshine, Pulp Fiction, Rocky Horror, ahh.

At 11/03/2007 01:27:00 AM, Blogger mellowlee said...

Woooohoooo! Another lovely zip file! Thanks muchly Beth!

At 11/03/2007 06:53:00 PM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

Nothing from "Less Than Zero?"

Kudos for "I'm Your Boogie Man."

At 11/04/2007 01:21:00 AM, Blogger Jacy said...

So many great songs on this list. I LOVED This Woman's Work by Kate Bush; I still listen to it often. Also loved the Bowie/Metheny This is Not America.

And you are so right about a soundtrack really having the ability to elevate a movie. Lloyd Dobler indeed would not have been as memorable without Peter Gabriel, and the Zero 7 stuff on the Garden State soundtrack really made the movie ooze cool, when it actually wasn't as cool as its soundtrack, Peter Sarsgaard excepted.

At 11/04/2007 01:21:00 AM, Blogger Jacy said...

p.s. Soundtracks I still love: Sid and Nancy and Trainspotting.

At 11/04/2007 12:49:00 PM, Blogger anandamide said...

In terms of songs forever tied to a movie, you'd have to go with "Mrs. Robinson" from the Graduate.

At 11/04/2007 05:41:00 PM, Blogger Mountjoy said...

Seriously good stuff, Beth.

The Bond movies have had some great songs - I'd argue that Lulu's You Only Live Twice is also up there as a classic, and Carly Simon's Nobody Does It Better is, in fact, a lot better than many of her own album cuts. Hearing McCartney play Live & Let Die was one of THE moments of his 1989 tour for me.

It sends a shiver down my spine when someone uses a song that I love in a film - all the better when I don't know it's coming: Elton John's Levon, in The Ice Storm; Layla at the end of Goodfellas, and Dire Starits' Tunnel of Love in An Officer & A Gentleman spring to mind.

At 11/04/2007 10:31:00 PM, Blogger Tenacious S said...

Sweetness and I were in Hot Topic looking for a piece for her Halloween costume and they were playing The Rocky Horror soundtrack. I was telling her about midnight shows and dressing up and props and how much fun it used to be. The girl that worked there overheard us and said she was jealous and that it sounded like fun. I was cool for about 2.2 seconds to a Hot Topic employee. I don't know if I should be stoked or hang my head in shame.

At 11/05/2007 11:59:00 AM, Blogger Tony Alva said...

The Plimsouls record is available out there for those not afraid of vinyl and/or dropping an unusually high dollar amount for a used CD.

Great picks Beth, but I would have gone with "Trouble" from the Harold & Maude sound track. Better yet, scan the tracks on Cat's Mona Bone Jakon and there you will discover not only your favs from the movie, but a couple of other great songs as well. Many think Tea for the Tillerman was his moment, but I like Mona Bone just as much. Now that you've got me riffing on Cat S. "Katmandu" may just be a feature this week at my blog!

At 11/06/2007 10:56:00 AM, Blogger DaBich said...

White Zombie rocks!

At 11/06/2007 11:38:00 AM, Blogger Malcolm: said...

I had no idea that Beck remade the Korgis' only U.S. hit. I'm looking forwarding to downloading it and some of these other tunes later this week.

At 11/06/2007 04:18:00 PM, Blogger dguzman said...

Man, I love your Friday mixes! That Plimsouls song is so great, and Shirley Bassey IS the bomb. Thanks!

At 11/07/2007 03:30:00 PM, Anonymous Margb331 said...

Seu Jorge -- what a fantastic soundtrack...I should have known you would include it...


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