[This is the first in what I hope will be a series of mixtapes that evoke the spirit of auteur filmmakers. I welcome suggestions for future selections. Next will be Wong Kar-Wai. 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]
The following mixtape is all about the art of repurposing, taking songs which have been overlooked by popular soundtracks but which nonetheless possess an allure of the cinematic about them waiting to be explored. These are the same familiar songs we hear playing in the background of a party or a department store, but all of sudden, situated within an overt cinematic context, something clicks and the songs bear new resonance. This playlist is my love letter to the soundtracks of pop cinema, the stand-alone masterpieces of Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and Sophia Copolla, just to name a few. It takes a musical savant like a Quentin Tarantino to provide that special fusion of old familiar sounds in new exciting contexts, side by side with symphonic vista-creating set-pieces of music which come to define the cinematic experiences they are a part of. It also takes a particular kind of music to play cinematically, and even more so, for it to be iconic. I admit there is a geek factor to this display of arcane knowledge in that a part of the joy of this sort of soundtrack comes from the clever deployment of the familiar (one of my favorite examples is ‘He Loves Me’, the Olive Oil croon song from Altman’s Popeye, that hit just the right note in the montage of Punch Drunk Love). Perhaps nobody is better at this then Tarantino whose films are all about repurposing popular culture, and his musical cues are no different. Think of ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ from the ear-slicing scene of Reservoir Dogs, or more recently, the rip-roaring riff that is played during one of the bloodiest scenes in Death Proof, ‘Hold Tight’ by The Who side project, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich.
Some of my other favorites include: ‘Jessie’s Girl’ in Boogie Nights, ‘Mad World’ in Donnie Darko, Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ in Trainspotting, Cowboy Junkies’ ‘Sweet Jane’ in Natural Born Killers, Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey’ in Lost in Translation
So this is my very own Tarantinoesque mixtape. The challenge was to keep the ethos of obscure but solid ditties which possess the cinematic in their repurposing. It became necessary not to covet from pre-existing soundtracks and avoid the more obvious choices, to get to some sort of pure vision of sound as it manifests onscreen. Sometimes I was thinking about the opening music, other times, envisioned set-pieces. Quite by accident my playlist has taken on a two-part structure which evokes Kill Bill, and superficially the soundtrack as well, except in my version the first part remains loyal to a Western vision, the second part succumbing to a teenage delight in pop music.
I should add in closing that I am aware that two of the songs on this compilation were originally used on soundtracks, but I think those sources are so incredibly obscure that I can get away with this, and if you can tell me which ones and from where then you are truly a star.
A single streamed version of the mixtape can be listened to here Individual tracks are beneath the seat.
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