' ' Cinema Romantico: Desert Island CD

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Desert Island CD

My esteemed colleague Castor at Anomalous Material has struck blogathon gold yet again, this time with the idea for a "Desert Island CD." He writes: "You are stranded on a desert island with only one CD (and a CD player etc...). What are 12 tracks that you would want to have with you? While those can be pop song, instrumentals etc... we are all movie bloggers so there is one requirement that each track comes from a movie soundtrack." I loved this idea. Loved it. Except, in an expected twist, it also unleashed an anxiety attack, mainly in attempting to find the criteria to decide what songs to choose.

"You gotta hear this one song. It'll change your life. I swear."
Believe me, I have a regular Desert Island Mix, Non-Movie Edition - or, as I like to call it, My Personal Book Of Hymns - and so, I wondered, should I just try to force those songs, if possible, on to this mix? Am I just choosing favorite artists and then trying to shoehorn them on to the CD? For example, Tift Merritt's "Another Country" is apparently featured in Renee Zellweger's "New In Town" and I have never seen that movie and have no desire whatsoever to see it and so if I were to select that song for the mix would I be cheating? If these are songs from movies should they be from movies I love and, more specifically, should they be songs that were crucial to those movies? Or does that just make it more difficult. My favorite use of pop music in a film ever is probably "Best Of My Love" in "Boogie Nights" except to my ears there is no way that song would hold up over time on a desert island. Ye gods.

I'm just glad Castor gave a 5 day deadline because I could have agonized over this for months. But enough blathering. The list!

My Desert Island Mix, Movie Edition:

1.) "Hard Times," Eastmountainsouth in "Elizabethtown." So, my Personal Book Of Hymns? Well, this song leads it off. And now it leads off my Desert Island Mix, too. We all know I worship "Elizabethtown" and a snippet of this song is featured at the onset of Orlando Bloom's epic, awesome road trip, over the line "Classic mix tape songs" which is exactly what it is. It's funny, that very first time I heard this show up in the movie I selfishly got upset because the song was no longer a secret. Now, I'm happy it was there because I can take it to the desert island and, frankly, I don't think I could survive without it.

2.) "Be My Baby," The Ronettes in "Mean Streets." When that unforgettable drum line thunders onto the screen at the start of Scorsese's 1973 classic it not only signals that what we are about to see will count for something but that it will be timeless, primarily because "Be My Baby" itself is timeless. This song is so good. It's so good. It still sounds fresher than, roughly, 94.7% of the music you can find, day or night, on the radio. It's the only song I've ever heard Springsteen cover (yes, I have a bootleg where he covers it) and thought, "No, Bruce, just leave it alone, man." And even after I inevitably pass away on this island, when someone else gets stranded there 350 years later, and presuming the CD player still works, it will still sound just as good.

3.) "Smoke Without Fire", Duffy in "An Education." It's not really in "An Education." It's over the closing credits. So be it. I mean, I liked "An Education" fine but my favorite memory of seeing that movie is sitting there in the darkness in the theater after it ended and listening to this song for the first time. Oh, Duffy, your Welsh warbling warms my heart while simultaneously wrecking it into oblivion. (Plus, this song would be so ironic as I repeatedly tried and failed to make fire. Because, come on, we all know I'm not making fire on this island.)

4.) "Leave", R.E.M. in "A Life Less Ordinary." A magnificent musical gut-punch brilliantly coloring in one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies. What more can I say? (Listen to the song here or watch the scene here.)

5.) "Tunnel Of Love", Bruce Springsteen in "Hysterical Blindness." Bruce, my idol, has done a lot of good original work for filmmakers over the years - I especially enjoy "Lift Me Up" from John Sayles' "Limbo" which features Bruce's falsetto - but did you ever see the HBO film for which Uma (Thurman) won a Golden Globe? You should, so long as you can stand Uma and Juliette Lewis as going-nowhere Jersey Girls. It's a really a pretty good little film and there is one scene where Uma is driving home from the bar and she puts on "Tunnel Of Love" - the title track off my favorite Bruce album - and rocks out in her car and, well, damn, it was Mia Wallace rocking out in her car to a Bruce song to which I've rocked out in my car. Ah, the magic of movies. (Watch the video here, and please pretend to not notice the eightiesness.)

6.) "California Stars", Wilco in "King Of California." This is the only other song here that is also on My Personal Book Of Hymns, a song which I affectionately call The Greatest Non-Springsteen Song Ever Recorded, but it totally has a right to be on this mix. I'll explain. I'm watching "King Of California" and I've fallen absolutely in love with it.  Great, great film. Terribly underrated film. I've gotta write more extensively about it one of these days. Anyway......it's the end and I'm already in that magical place you go when you know you've seen a great movie and then - unexpectedly, unpredictably, like another Christmas present when you thought all the presents had already been opened - this song kicks in as the credits roll. And I just soared off into the clouds of some sort of cinematic Machu Picchu. (Watch the scene here. It is the end movie, of course, so beware, though nothing is "given away", per se.)

7.) "Hockey Skates", Kathleen Edwards in "Men With Brooms." The only movie ever made about curling is quite clearly a colossal disappointment and I'm not even that far into it and I'm shaking my head in disbelief - "This is the best you could do?!" - when, out of the blue, a track from one of my favorite albums of all time - one of the most important albums of my life - pops up and momentarily I am lifted. It's what a great song can do. And I imagine there will be days on that desert island when I will feel like crap and won't want to be cheered up and this song is all about feeling like crap and not wanting to be cheered up.

8.) "The Harder They Come," Jimmy Cliff in "The Harder They Come." A movie that is really, really, really raw, as tough as the Kingston drug trade, harder to follow dialogue-wise than Brad Pitt in "Snatch", and, yet, this is one of the most fun sing-along-to songs you'll ever come across.

9.) "Can I Kick It?", A Tribe Called Quest in "The Wackness." "Rock and roll to the beat of the funk fuzz / Wipe your feet really good on the rhythm rug / If you feel the urge to freak do the jitterbug / Come and spread your arms if you really need a hug."

10.) "Skokiaan", Louis Armstrong in "The Impostors." Stanley Tucci's 1998 feature is uneven but often funny and sporadically transcendent, like in the awesome tracking shot of "The Captain's Ball" that opens the 3rd act set to this stomping, amusement park of a song. A monsoon's coming? Ah well. I'll just put this on repeat. Bring it on.

11.) "Better The Devil You Know," Kylie Minogue in "If Looks Could Kill." What, you don't remember this 1991 Richard Grieco/Gabrielle Anwar teenager-as-James-Bond-comedy-thriller? To be honest, I don't, either, even though I know I've seen it at least twice, and so I have no idea where this song shows up in it but if you think I'm going to that desert island without some Kylie, you're outta your ever-loving mind.

12.) "Let Her Dance," The Bobby Fuller Four in "Fantastic Mr. Fox." One of the greatest of all movie endings. Sure, Mr. Fox and his family and his cohorts have emerged victorious, but Boggis, Bunce and Bean are still around and will come after them again. The tree that was their home probably won't grow back. But it's okay right now, and, hey, we feel good so, you know, let's dance. And Wes Anderson knows this is the perfect song to dance to.


Castor said...

Glad this made you ponder the topic so much ahha ;) Definitely not surprised to see a track from the Elizabethtown soundtrack leading off your CD.

Colleen said...

What an eclectic list! I love The Fantastic Mr. Fox clip!

Anonymous said...

Ahah, I thought I was the only one having seen If Looks Could Kill. Whatever happen to Richard Grieco?? :)

Ryan McNeil said...

Oh sweet lord! End-to-end this might be my favorite mix of all those posted!! Kathleen Edwards, Wilco, and Jimmy Cliif??? That's not even fair.....

Nick Prigge said...

Flixchatter: No idea what happened to Greico. His star didn't shine long, did it? Although this really makes me want to rewatch "If Looks Could Kill."

Mad Hatter: Thanks, man. I tell ya, once I started thinking about it all the cool songs in movies I remembered just rolled out.

Chris said...

I like the Wilco and R.E.M. tracks, they are new to me, so thanks.

I know about the Elizabethtown soundtrack being good, good choice with EAST MOUNTAIN SOUTH, top track for me was song by Wheat.

I've also done the desert island disc, by the way

Fletch said...

Sorry, but I'm taking the ending song to Rushmore over the one to Fantastic Mr. Fox (though you can't really go wrong with either).

Overall, I can't say that this is for me, but I love seeing A Tribe Called Quest on here - certainly not seeing a lot of them on these lists (though I can't think of all that many uses of them in film, so that might explain it).

Nick Prigge said...

The end song to Rushmore is pretty darn good. And the end song to The Life Aquatic. Wes Anderson just knows his music.

And there really should be more Tribe in movies, not just in movies about 90's teenage pot dealers. Tribe is for everyone. Tribe is universal.