The Lost Cormac McCarthy Mixtape

The Road

[A continuing series of mixtapes created to evoke the spirit of auteur filmmakers. I welcome suggestions for future selections. The MP3s available here are for sampling purposes only. Please support the artists by buying their albums and going to their shows. If you are the artist or label rep and don’t want an MP3 featured, please email me]

This latest installment of the Auteur Filmmakers Mixtape series is clearly breaking the rules before I’ve hardly start, as far as I am aware Cormac McCarthy hasn’t as much as picked up a camera in his life. His weapon of choice, the written word, has however been fundamental in the development of key film properties as of late, most notably NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, but, for the immediate purposes of this exercise, my gaze lays square upon the two behemoths lurching on the horizon: John Hillcoat’s THE ROAD, and Todd Field’s BLOOD MERIDIAN. The two books, although written at different points in Cormac’s life and partaking of worlds split by generations, nonetheless feel thematically and spiritually part of a continuum, stages of the same moral decay, and as such, the two are blended together into one playlist, the ‘blood’ bleeding into, or onto, the ‘road’.

This mixtape does not aspire to be something of an authentic soundtrack for these films, the bleak and antiquated rigidity that will be required for that goes against my better interests, I rather ferret out the essence using whatever penchant for modern and sometimes pop-like sounds I deem suitable, continuing my mixtape code for repurposing songs to suit new and surprising contexts. If to be of any use other than pure enjoyment, the mixtape is my attempt to capture the mood shifts between the two stories, the carnivorous depths in BLOOD MERIDIAN’s acrid depiction of nineteenth century lawlessness in the Old West, and the hard swallow of hope in THE ROAD’s nuclear winter. Since Hillcoat’s film is pretty much in the can, this mean overgrown apocalypse without end I give to you, Mr. Field.

Notes on the tracks: Cave’s Stagger Lee is perhaps the only song that lives up to the kind of brutality Cormac lays down, and Mr Stagger Lee would be just the sort of species the Judge would collect in his sketchbook. That said, Judge Holden, the epitome of everything wicked in the world, is aptly commemorated with Dylan’s Wicked Messenger (‘he did come, with a mind that multiplied the smallest matter’). The Dead Vine Blues track fits the first plains attack of the Comanche channeled into musical instruments, a piece of bravado I am strangely proud of. The ruminations of THE ROAD in the Tindersticks and Secret Machines tracks, while liberally playing with canon, do hypothesize quite nicely the psychological state of being a walking phantom. Not possessing an MP3 version of Bob Dylan’s original and far superior Ain’t Talkin’, I had to suffice with the lesser alternative track for these purposes. Enjoy.


A single streamed version of the mixtape can be listened to here Individual tracks are below but please be patient for the tracks to load up in the audio player, takes a minute.

Fade to black.

Side A

01 Jesus for the Jugular – The Veils

Jesus for the Jugular – The Veils

02 The Wicked Messenger (Bob Dylan cover) – The Black Keys

The Wicked Messenger – The Black Keys

03 Stagger Lee (live) – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Stagger Lee (live) – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

04 Idioteque (Radiohead cover) – Calico Horse

Idioteque (Radiohead cover) – Calico Horse

05 Dead Vine Blues – Grails

Dead Vine Blues – Grails

Side B

06 Shelter from the Storm – Bob Dylan

Shelter from the Storm – Bob Dylan

07 Girl from the North Country (Bob Dylan cover) – Secret Machines

Girl from the North Country (Dylan cover) – Secret Machines

08 Until the Morning Comes – Tindersticks

Until the Morning Comes – Tindersticks

09 Ain’t Talkin’ (alternative version) – Bob Dylan

Ain’t Talkin (altnernative version) – Bob Dylan

10 Indefinable – Essie Jain

Indefinable – Essie Jain

A key page of the Comanche attack from Blood Meridian:

Blood Meridian

image:nic taylor

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It wouldn't be possible to create a McCarthy mixtape without some Nick Cave. Nice job!

I also think of McCarthy when listening to Calexico's Black Heart.

In fact, I get the feeling sometimes that a lot of Calexico's darker tracks are actually in some way inspired by McCarthy.

Christian A. Dumais

There are some interesting choices here. For the life of me, I'm not certain which songs I'd choose if I were to make a mix to mark the end of the American Dream, as McCarthy seems to be exploring in his work. I'll be giving this a listen. Thanks for putting it together.


I have been a fan of Nick Cave for a while now and only a couple months ago had I even heard Stagger Lee… I saw him live and it was an aggressive set, and the most aggressive of them all was Stagger Lee. Just hearing that song and reading Blood Meridian about that time, got the ball rolling for this mixtape.

And Christian, I have made a lot of themed mixtapes in my time and i have to say this was one of the easiest to make, I had like forty songs on my ipod and the hard part was condensing to something like ten.

and yup, had a lot of Calexico on the list too… but really the key was Dylan, I had like six different Dylan songs which worked perfectly.


Never heard black heart but that is awesome.

taking your cue and using youtube, here is the original version of Ain't Talkin that I wanted to include in the mixtape but could not get my hands on an Mp3 version: