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A musical question to the audience

Posted at 9:12 AM on August 29, 2005 by Euan Kerr (5 Comments)

Euan Kerr once more. Don't worry, she'll be back in a week....

I didn't get out to the movies this weekend because we had houseguests from London. It was my cousin, his wife and his two teenage daughters, and the eldest daughter's best friend. It was great to see how the girls got on so well with the two Kerr teenagers. They spent a lot of time just talking about each other's lives, and comparing notes on the strangest and most embarrassing behaviours of the parental units.

What I found particularly interesting was their desire to go out en masse to rent a pile of movies from the local DVD-erie. It was clear that they were looking to develop some form of common experience, and this was a way to do it easily and quickly. And the movies they chose? 'Napoleon Dynamite,' which the British cousins hadn't seen, and the one that threw me, 'Now and Then,' the Demi Moore, Rosie O'Donnell movie from a few years ago about a group of women looking back on the shared tribulations of their childhoods.

Tellingly, for the next couple of days the conversations was peppered with references to the former, and zilch aout the latter (except for my daughter asking to borrow the soundtrack that I bought secondhand once because I wanted a copy of Vanity Fare's "Hitching a Ride" and Freda Payne's "Band of Gold." I don't know why, but I am drawn to cheesy songs from my youth.)

All of which leads me to pose the Movie Maven group a question. I have been thinking of how including a song in a movie can change a person's perception of that tune.

The most radical case I can think of is how I used to really like the Steeler's Wheel song "Stuck in the Middle with You," and I suppose I still do. However I can never hear Gerry Rafferty's nasal 'Oh, I don't know why I came here tonight...' without remembering the 'ear' scene in "Resevoir Dogs." There are also a bunch of songs Tarantino messed up for me in "Pulp Fiction." It's a case of the film content changing the song forever.

Some new versions of a song in a film can improve the tune. I can't hear "Wild Thing" by the Troggs without remembering how inferior it is to the version sung over the closing credits of "Something Wild" by Sister Carol. (Then I recall the version done by Kermit the Frog and Animal which has to be heard to be believed, but may also prove I am just spending too much time listening to strange music.)

Then there is the amazing rendition of "Stormy Weather" at the conclusion of Derek Jarman's version of "The Tempest." It's priceless.

Then there are the pieces that leave you pondering what the film-makers were thinking. Take the way "Absolute Beginners" director Julian Temple had someone put lyrics to the classic Miles Davis tune 'So What' from "Kind of Blue," perhaps the most perfect jazz album ever made. It seemed like a terrible idea when I heard it, but now I wonder if I should go back and listen again.

Anyway, I am intrigued as to any of the Mavenettes (that would be you gentle readers) might have similar experiences to share. What piece of music has been irrevocable changed for the better or worse by being included in a movie you have seen?

Comments (5)

My ability to hear "Wild Thing" will be forever tied to Rick Vaughn entering the game at the end of Major League.

Posted by Joe | August 29, 2005 4:47 PM

Ditto on "Wild Thing" in "Major League". That was the first one I thought of.

Dick Dale's "Miserlou" at the opening of "Pulp Fiction" was the PERFECT way to kick it into gear and now gives me good vibes when I hear it because I love that flick.

"I'll Stop The World And Melt With You" reminds me both of "Independence Day" and "Valley Girl".

And what was that song from "The Breakfast Club"? You know which one I mean.

And finally, I can't ever hear the opening beats of The Cars' "Moving In Stereo" without thinking of Phoebe Cates taking off her bikini top in "Fast Times At Ridgemont High". Good times, good times....

Posted by kiteblues | August 29, 2005 9:06 PM

'Don't you forget about me' by the Simple Minds? The one lead singer Jim Kerr (no relation) says he's always hated but they have to keep singing because of "The Breakfast Club?"

There have been a couple of Scottish bands whose careers have been either changed or revitalized by having a song in a movie. The Proclaimers were on the wane when 'I would walk 500 miles' made the soundtrack of "Benny and Joon" and it brought them right back. It happened again with another tune "I'm on my way" which was included in the first 'Shrek' movie.

Posted by Euan Kerr | August 31, 2005 2:25 PM

from la fille sur le pont (the girl on the bridge)

I keep thinking it was "Crazy" by Peggy Lee, but it was really "Sorry" by Brenda Lee. (!)
I don't think it is a new version of the song. The movie makes the song worthwhile at last.

Posted by Gary from River Falls | August 31, 2005 11:27 PM

I used to be annoyed by Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone". However, this song was used during the brilliant scene in "Notting Hill" where a year is telescoped as Hugh Grant walks along the Portobello Road: the weather changes, the wardrobe changes with the seasons, a pregnant woman at the beginning is bouncing a baby at the end... wonderful. Ever since, I've really admired that song because it makes me recall that excellent piece of filmmaking.

Posted by Luke | September 1, 2005 9:53 AM

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