A Film Soundtrack-Inspired Quarantine Music Playlist: Lights, Camera, Music

Dim the house lights (literally) and cue up a movie — or at least a movie soundtrack

May 12, 2020 at 5:05 pm
click to enlarge "Beautiful Girls" YouTube screengrab - Photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKZMinpfljI
Photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKZMinpfljI
"Beautiful Girls" YouTube screengrab

Time now for the next installment of the Quarantine Playlist, and this edition's subject matter is yet another favorite pastime that has been quashed due to the limitations of social distancing, namely the watching of movies in a theater, just as God and Louis. B. Mayer intended.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good couch sprawl with a bowl of freshly popped corn kernels, a cold beverage and a DVD in the player, whether it's an old favorite from our extensive collection or a library rental of something we didn't want to pay full ticket price to see on a first-run basis. But there is a clear difference in the experiences.

The first movie I remember seeing in a theater was 101 Dalmatians, just after my fourth birthday. Walking into the lobby under the flashing marquee, finding our seats in the converted vaudeville venue, the dimming of the house lights, the drama of the presentation (Cruella de Vil scared the living shit out of me; she wanted to make a coat out of dogs, I swear to God), it all combined to make for a magical and memorable night. And, to a certain degree, elements of that magic still remain when it comes to watching a film on the big screen with a group of people who have gathered together with the same collective intent: to enjoy the filmmaker's art, to be captivated by a storyteller's sharply written narrative, to be swept away by the imagery and the dialogue and, just maybe, forget about life's problems for a blissful couple of hours.

And part of that experience also involves the use of music, whether it's score music that helps propel the action or heightens the emotion of particular scenes, or actual songs that infer (or plainly spell out) the meaning or direction or mood of a film along its meandering course.

For this iteration of the Quarantine Playlist, I was looking for a very specific kind of song which was based in large part on my personal collecting habits; the majority of movie soundtracks that I've added to my musical archive share the distinctive quality of featuring one or more songs that are unavailable anywhere else.

To that end, all of the songs listed below were only available on that particular soundtrack, at least at the time of the recording's release. I offer that specific caveat because, in this age of box sets and rarities collections, a number of soundtrack-only releases have eventually found their way into other more widely distributed compilations, although a good many have remained unique to the soundtrack that spawned them in the first place.

So, submitted for your approval (more a TV reference, although you may recall the Twilight Zone movie from the early '80s), a few soundtrack tunes to help ease the pain of having the new James Bond movie pushed to a November release.

  • John Hiatt - “Snake Charmer” (from White Nights, 1985)
  • Brian Eno - “You Don't Miss Your Water” (from Married to the Mob, 1988)
  • Iggy Pop - “Livin' on the Edge of the Night” (from Black Rain, 1989)
  • J. Geils Band - “Fright Night” (from Fright Night, 1985)
  • David Bowie - “Absolute Beginners” (from Absolute Beginners, 1986)
  • Mick Jagger - “Memo From Turner" (from Performance, 1970)
  • Jeff Lynne - “Video” (from Electric Dreams, 1984)
  • Bob Dylan - “Things Have Changed” (from Wonder Boys, 2000)
  • Stan Ridgway - “Bing Can't Walk” (from Slam Dance, 1987)
  • The Replacements - “Cruella DeVille” (from the Disney cover album Stay Awake, 1988; original song from 101 Dalmatians, 1960)
  • ZZ Top - “She's Just Killing Me” (from From Dusk Till Dawn, 1996)
  • Bowling for Soup - “I Melt With You” (from Sky High, 2005)
  • David Baerwald - “Imagination” (from Echo Park, 1986)
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan and Dick Dale - “Pipeline” (from Back to the Beach, 1987)
  • Alice Cooper - “Road Rats” (from Roadie, 1980)
  • Steve Earle and Sheryl Crow - “Time Has Come Today” (from Steal This Movie, 2000)
  • Twenty One Pilots - “Heathens” (from Suicide Squad, 2016)
  • The Wallflowers - “Heroes” (from Godzilla, 1998)
  • Afghan Whigs - “Be For Real” (from Beautiful Girls, 1996)
  • James Gang - “Laguna Salada” (from Zachariah, 1971)
  • Fountains of Wayne - “Too Cool for School” (from Scary Movie, 2000; RIP Adam Schlesinger)