Boneyard Media


Archive for the ‘Music in Movies’ Category

Song ID: Shocking Blue – “Acka Raga” (1968)

Monday, May 6th, 2013

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None of the official “best of” comps for the Dutch group Shocking Blue do justice to their facility with the three minute pop song. You have to go digging through all of their album cuts and B-sides and construct your own playlist. “Acka Raga” is a post-pyschedelic sitar instrumental, a cover of a track from the Joe Harriott-John Mayer Double Quartet’s 1967 Indo-Jazz Fusion LP. In 1999, a techno group called Mint Royale covered the song and retitled it, but hilariously claimed writer credits, giving Harriott-Mayer liner note honors for the “sample.” They even had the song placed in the Alias TV show and the Vanilla Sky film soundtrack. How did the licensing for this go down, I wonder?

Shocking Blue – “Acka Raga” (1968)

Joe Harriott-John Mayer Double Quartet – “Acka Raga” (1967)

Mint Royale – “From Rusholme with Love” (1999)

Memo to Wes Anderson: Please drop the classic pop record shtick

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

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To: Wes Anderson
Re: Pointless pop records in your movies

After watching The Fantastic Mr. Fox, I’m requesting that you please drop the classic pop record shtick you’ve used for every single one of your movies for the following reasons:

1) The records mostly don’t work. All those records you shoved into Rushmore, and even The Royal Tenenbaums were fun in a head scratching sort of way, but having just seen The Fantastic Mr. Fox, I’m getting the distinct impression that you’re now subscribing to Quentin Tarantino’s hobbyhorse method of tossing favorite records into a film willy nilly just to be cool.

2) More often than not, the records hurt the movie. “Heroes and Villains,” “Street Fighting Man,” “Old Man River,” and, especially, “Let Her Dance,” add nothing to the singular visual experience you’ve offered viewers with The Fantastic Mr. Fox. In fact, they jerk viewers out of the wonderland you’ve coaxed them into by introducing clashing contexts, like you did with the Clash in The Royal Tenenbaums and the distracting David Bowie material in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Your insistence on overplaying Peter Sarstedt’s “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)” in The Darjeeling Limited added unnecessary pounds of dead weight to an already sluggish situation.

3) More often than not, the movie hurts the records. I’m of the opinion that the visual images movie makers ask viewers to associate with certain songs is no trifling matter, and a song’s appearance in a movie can do irreparable damage to a song. I understand the argument that pop songs are essentially commercial entities that are, in a way, consigned to an existence of eternal molestation merely for being what they are. But damage is still damage.

Illustration A: Sarstedt’s song, a UK no. 1 hit in its day, has already been around the block. But the distinct image that unfortunate viewers of Darjeeling are now forced to associate with it – Jason Schwartzman moping around with his iPod and a bored, anorexic Natalie Portman – has undoubtedly murdered a certain element of that song’s je ne sais quoi.

Illustration B: When the Bobby Fuller Four’s “Let Her Dance” crashes in for the closing credits of Mr. Fox, viewers are asked to associate the emotionally complex classic with animals dancing in a supermarket. I felt my heart sink when I heard it play, realizing that a song that made me lose my breath the first time I experienced it would now be remembered by my own kids as an incidental soundtrack item in an animal movie. The song hurt the scene and the scene hurt the song.

4) Movie directors have a unique opportunity to introduce new music to audiences. Here’s one thing about your latest movie that makes me think you have it in you to change your ways. The very best musical moment in this film was the song you had the animated Jarvis Cocker do. That was so magical that I wondered through the entire film why you didn’t just get Cocker to do the entire soundtrack. It meshed with the rest of the film in a way that none of those records did.

This is my basic counter argument for those who say “the music biz survives on movie and commercial tie-ins nowadays and you might as well get over it”: Movie directors, advertisers, and TV people would be doing the music biz a lot more good if they commissioned more original music. It would also make them look more inventive and less like those lazy minded types who devised the CSI intros featuring recordings of the Who as opposed to commissioning original theme music. (Spike Jonze, to his credit, used freshly composed music for his Where the Wild Things Are; to his discredit, the soundtrack and movie both turned out utterly cheerless. But still.)

Thanks for reading. Here’s to future days, future movies, and future original soundtracks.

 

Song ID: Bobby Troup – “The River’s Edge” (1957)

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

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Anthony Quinn, a softie at heart, and Ray Milland, who’s got a killer inside him, are both quite obviously over twice Debra Paget’s age, but they wrangle over her in the Mexican wild all the same. And Bobby Troup, who we all dig for “Route 66” and “The Three Bears,” squeezes out just the sort of melancholy “Wild is the Wind”-type of fifties schmaltzola you can’t resist.

Bobby Troup – “The River’s Edge”

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Bruce Cockburn – “Goin’ Down the Road” (1970)

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

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Goin’ Down the Road was an influential Canadian film about two Nova Scotia young bucks who drive a cool 1960 Chevy Impala to Toronto in hopes of snazzing up their floundering lives. It’s pretty much a bummer, like most movies at that time were. But it was a worthwhile bummer. Particularly worthwhile was the soundtrack by a young Bruce Cockburn, the venerable Canadian singer-songwriter who was only one album into his career back then. No soundtrack LP ever appeared because Bruce, apparently, insisted on not releasing something commercially that didn’t reflect his direct experience. Too bad. Anyway, I loved the theme song so much when I first saw this (still do) that I propped up a tape recorder by the TV, merging the opening first few verses with the closing verse that plays at the end.

Bruce Cockburn – “Goin’ Down the Road”

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Song ID: The Grass Roots – “Feelings” (1966)

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

grassroots-feelings

In With Six You Get Egg Roll, Doris Day’s final film, the Grass Roots show up and, taking their cues from the Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” sound more weirdly alluring than they ever would again. Curiously, Arthur Lee’s Love, who used to be called the Grass Roots but had to change it thanks to these LA rivals, toyed with the melody line from the verses of “Feelings” for their verses in “A House Is Not a Motel.”

The Grass Roots play “Feelings” in With Six You Get Eggroll

Love – “A House Is Not a Motel” (1967)

The Beatles – “The Beatles’ Movie Medley” (1982)

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

OK, one last medley for the road. This Beatleflick tribute single (devoid of any sort of musical nod to Yellow Submarine) was a disjointed Frankenstein pastiche, but it did quite nicely, hitting #12 in ’82.

Top Secret medley (1984)

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

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posted by Stanislav
The time machine now takes us back to the mid-80s, when the movie Top Secret was considered the greatest movie of all time (at least for me and my friends). This was a silly parody of several different movies (much like Scary Movie is today) set in East Germany about a US rock singer stopping the East German government from taking over West Germany. Or something like that. Kim’s Beach Boys medley reminded me of the opening sequence of this movie and I was (un)lucky enough to find that scene on the Internet. Now we can continue to celebrate the (luckily) faded medleymania. If you ask me, modern day mashups are much better, but this is all about “nostalgia,” not quality.

Top Secret (opening sequence)

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