Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Favorite music moments in film

Today is Tuesday February 1, 2011. On Tuesdays, I work a 12-8 shift. It sucks. My lunch/dinner break was at 4:30. Instead of eating I drove down to the river and stood there by the banks to watch the currents ripple and feel the cool, balmy mid-winter breeze lick across my face. I need to shave. I need to visit the sea-side soon. I need to collect small, pink shells and eat fresh crab legs dipped in melted butter at a two-bit ocean-side restaurant where all the tables are covered in newspaper. I need a shot of whiskey to wash it all down. And then I need to sit on the sand and watch tide roll in while all the seagulls bake their wings in the electric blood of an evening sun. I will do these things, and more...in good time. In the meanwhile though, I guess i'll continue to skip rocks on the New River between 4:30 and 5:00 on Tuesday afternoons. And then i'll come back to the library; and compose my weekly blog. Which, as you can tell by the title, will discuss in (semi) detail my twenty favorite musical moments in film.

In truth, I came up with this list mostly off the top of my head so I'm quite certain that there were some I didn't think of. But everything on here is definitely a personal favorite. :)

1. Movie: The Devil's Rejects
Song: "Midnight Rider" by The Allman Brothers

This is the opening musical number to a grotesque, gritty, quirky film that has an outstanding soundtrack. "The Devil's Rejects" is certainly not for everyone; but if you are a fan of the classic horror genre then I definitely recommend it. Rob Zombie knows what he's doing. "Midnight Rider" sets the tone for this contemporary southern gothic that is a sweaty, tense, thrill ride which takes the viewer along to visit sadistic hostage situations, brothels, mad men, and interestingly enough--deep friendships. The film culminates in an epic shoot out; but not before we see a scene in which the bad guys share a moment to eat ice cream cones and raz each other like childhood pals. It can be a helluva thing...friendship. Check it out.


2. Movie: Wayne's World
Song: "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen

Wayne's World hit theatres in (if i'm remembering correctly) the fall of 1992--when I was in fifth grade. I obviously didn't get all the jokes; but I certainly felt a connection with Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar. It was the same sort of connection I felt with Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted "Theodore" Logan. But Wayne and Garth were cooler. They didn't play just air guitars, they played for real guitars. They had this weird little cable access show that was funnier than Ross Perot. And they (somehow) knew how to talk to girls. But most importantly; they were complete music geeks. Like me. And this fact is made evident at the beginning of the movie with the infamous "Bohemian Rhapsody" scene. If i'm in the car, and "Bohemian Rhapsody" comes on I still rock out at the part that...well...rocks out. There are two movies I could credit with introducing me to Queen that both came out around the same time. This one, and "The Mighty Ducks." I feel it's in better taste though, to credit this one ;)


3. Movie: Forrest Gump
Song: The whole damn sound track

This is one of those rare occurences where the soundtrack is practically flawless. The only song I don't care for is "It keeps you running" by the Doobie Brothers. It sounds too much like an attempt at the Super Mario Bro's theme gone wrong. Doobies aside however; the Forrest Fump soundtrack is a much treasured piece of my cd collection. It expresses and illustrates a time in our nation's history that we are still trying to figure out. Pop music is often a reflection of the times--and this collection of songs mirrors the turbulence, beauty, and eloquence of the 50's, 60's, and 70's with magnanimous grace. It gets under your skin and makes you say, "I want to know more." The link below is from the scene where Forrest first enters Vietnam. I don't know if this is true or not, but I heard that Tom Hanks suggested they add this song by CCR to the soundtrack


4. Movie: The Big Lebowski
Song: "Just dropped in" by Kenny Rogers

The Big Lebowski = the greatest thing to happen to America since democracy. It was a tough call to choose between this song, "The Man in Me" by Bob Dylan, and "Hotel California" by The Gypsy Kings...but this one ultimately won out. It's a fantastic sequence...and it really ties the film together.


5. Movie: Beavis and Butthead do America
Song: Love Rollercoaster by The Red Hot Chili Peppers

I have to watch this movie at least five times a year. It's a favorite from my adolesence, and was another step on the road for the Chili Peppers to become one of my most cherished bands. Beavis & Butthead and the Chili Peppers make a good team. They ought to collaborate more often.


6. Movie: PeeWee's Big Adventure
Song: Tequilla, by The Champs

PeeWee Herman trapped in a den of hardcore bikers. What could be better? It should be noted that good use of this song is also made in the movie, "The Sandlot." But this is the best.


7. Movie: Back to the Future
Song: Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry, performed by Marty McFly

You can't mess with Michael J. Fox. You JUST...CAN'T. One of my favorite memories from college was a day spent with my room mates in which we consecutively watched all three "Back to the Future" films. This needs to be done again.


8. Movie: Shrek
Song: Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, performed by Rufus Wainwright

Rarely has a "children's" movie produced such an outstanding soundtrack. I was initially torn between choosing this song, "My beloved moster" by the eels, and Jason Wade's cover of "You belong to me." Both of which also have very sweet, sincere, sequences. But it's "Hallelujah" that wins in terms of animating genuine heartbreak. The songs were one of the biggest draws for me, in the first two Shrek movies (along with really great, sharp writing and a tremendous cast). The second Shrek film featured songs by David Bowie and Tom Waits, among others. It's unfortunate that they didn't stop while they were ahead though. "Shrek the Third" was disappointing; and I have yet to see the fourth installment. Don't really want to. But I still remember when the original Shrek was released in theatres. I saw it four times. And, use of Leonard Cohen's classic tune, is one of the main reasons why.


9. Movie: The Labyrinth
Song: As the World falls down, by David Bowie

Quite possibly in my top ten all time favorite movies. I've never sat down and really thought about what those films might be...but i'd wager this would be on that list. When people think of "The Labyrinth," in terms of the music I mean, I believe they most usually think of "Magic Dance" or "Underground." Both of course are wonderful songs, also penned and performed by Bowie. But it's the movie's ballad, "As the World Falls Down" that i've always loved the most. When I listen to that song, (and I can listen to it anytime, anywhere) it makes me feel, comfortable--like i'm at home. It's a gorgeous, sad, love song; and the scene it envelopes is a haunting, mysterious, enchanted mix of fairytale lust.


10. Movie: The Muppet Movie
Song: Rainbow Connection, performed by Kermit the Frog

Don't it just make you smile? :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSFLZ-MzIhM (just kermit)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xn49H3O0Jvk (finale, with all muppets)

11. Movie: Star Wars; Episode 4: A New Hope
Song: Theme from the opening sequence

Can you still recall the first time you saw this? Does it still give you chills?


12. Movie: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Song: Pure Imagination, performed by Gene Wilder

If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Want to change the world? There's nothing to it...

Willy Wonka said it best, "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams."


13. Movie: The Spy Who Love Me
Song: Nobody does it better, by Carly Simon

One of my favorite Bond movies, and one of my favorite Bond songs. The old school Bond films were so wonderfully cheesy; and their opening songs were beautifully epic. Especially this one. Carly Simon has a voice of silk that you just sort of want to slip in to. For the record, Radiohead does an AMAZING cover of this song. look it up!


14. Movie: Garden State
Song: The only living boy in New York, by Simon and Garfunkel

A splendid example of using song to illustrate freedom and newfound romance in contemporary film. And it's hard to watch this sequence with out leaping out of my seat and rocketing my fist towards the sky all the while bellowing out "YES! YES GOD DAMN IT YES!!!" But doggone...don't you feel sorry and awkward for the third wheel in this scene? I always do. Half of the time we're gone but we don't know where. Ain't that the truth?


15. Movie: Sound of Music
Song: Edelweiss, performed by Herr Von Trap A.K.A Christopher "international bad ass" Plummer A.K.A. Dr. Parnassus.

I'm learning to play this one on my guitar :)


16. Movie: Beetlejuice
Song: The Banana Boat Song (Day-O), by Harry Belafonte

At the age of seven, this scene was the silliest, funniest thing i'd ever seen to date. Everyday I say a silent thank you to my parents, who allowed me to watch movies like this at a young age. I think I turned out ok. ;)

P.S. remember when Tim Burton's films kicked ass? :::::SIGH:::::


17. Movie: The Lion King
Song: The Circle of Life

I still vividly remember, it was the summer of 1994 and I was 12 years old. My mom took me, and my cousin Josh to see "The Lion King" at the theatre one afternoon when we were visiting my grandparents in North Carolina. I saw "Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," and "Aladdin" in the theatre as well; and the music in those films was, I have to say pretty incredible. But the songs featured in "The Lion King" were other-worldly. They were bombastic, symphonic, extraordinarily delightful, regal, dark, treacherous, sassy, and quite lovely. "Circle of Life," being the opening song, and the opening sequence of the films, sets the tone marvelously for what the viewer is about to encounter. "The Lion King" is essentially Hamlet with lions--which is pretty great in and of itself--but it also boasts of love and loss, death and rebirth. And when you're an impressionable 12 yr old sitting in a dark theatre listening to these songs bombarding your ears via gigantic spekers, and watching these very adult themes unfold on a giant screen, you are instantly transported to some other realm. It's hard to explain...but when you exit the theatre, and walk back into sunlight, just for a little while you see things differently. Maybe i'm a dork-biscuit, but "Circle of Life" is one of the greatest songs ever to grace a disney film. Don't believe me? Click the link...and look; haaaaarder.


18. Movie: Disney's Robin Hood
Song: Not in Nottingham, by Roger Miller

Another classic Disney film. In a story where most of the songs (oo-de-lally, prince john the phony king of england, etc.) are silly and happy go lucky, "not in nottingham" exudes a seriousness that balances this classic animated feature just right without being overly preachy, but adds an element of very austere humanity. I've said it before, and i'll say it again...when i grow up, I want to be Roger Miller.


19. Movie: Footloose
Song: "I need a hero" by Bonnie Tyler

I watched Footloose just this morning! This is perhaps the greatest scene in the film. It's when Kevin Bacon's character has to take part in a game of chicken with tractors with Chuck "every douche bag you've ever met" Cranston. It's basically the good guy vs. the bad guy. And of course the good guy, Kevin Bacon wins. ...and then he went and made "Tremors." WHAT?! :)


20. Movie: Dirty Dancing
Song: Cry to me, by Solomon Burke

In a movie so chock full of brilliant songs it's hard to pick just one. Much like "Forrest Gump" this is another film whose sound track does an A+ job of getting across the theme of the movie through song. Rebellion, prejudice, coming of age, forbidden romance. I love the shit out of this movie, and i don't care who knows it. Easily one of the best films to come out of the 1980s. Solomon Burke passed away last year, and it was a sad day. But he will always be remembered through his music, and also the through the extreme realness that Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze (may he also rest in peace) perform for us in this scene. They make it seem so real that you literally experience the nerves, and the ache, and the passion, and the exquisite pain they are acting out while dancing to this song. That's how you make a movie.

So come on...and cry to me.


Next week's blog: Interlude number one; an unfortunate evening with Kanye West


  1. Candice and I watched Labyrinth with her little sisters on Sunday. They had never seen it before and loved it, which restored my faith in the younger generation. I sometimes get chills watching the "As The World Falls Down" segment. Henson captured a moment that could have been awkward and creepy and turned it into the penultimate scene of the film, in my opinion.
    And those words and that melody!!!!
    The girls really liked the masks and Bowie's hair....and they were singing "Magic Dance" the next day. I told you they were awesome!

  2. Bring on the Kanye snarkiness, Banker. I await it with baited breath!!

  3. I'm reading this and Bohemian Rhapsody plays on the radio.
    As always, I love this list.