Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Songs whose imagery has been usurped by movies

(This is reprinted from a note I created last year on Facebook. Long day, with no new ideas, but I wanted to keep the streak going.)

Here are some songs featured in unforgettable movie scenes that will now be forever associated with these tunes…
“Singing in the Rain” (Fred Astaire) A Clockwork Orange – (1971, dir. Stanley Kubrick) Malcolm McDowell’s Alex and his cohorts beat a man senseless as they dance along to this tune.

“In Your Eyes” (Peter Gabriel) Say Anything– (1989, dir. Cameron Crowe) Lloyd Dobbler, played by John Cusack, stands atop the hood of his car at dawn, and blares this song out of his very 80’s-looking boom box, in hopes that Diane (Ione Skye) will take him back.

“Stuck In The Middle With You” (Steel Wheel) Reservoir Dogs – (1992, dir. Quentin Tarantino) Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) tortures Officer Marvin Nash, as he moves around him, to the beat of this classic oldie, ultimately slicing off Nash’s ear before being shot by Tim Roth’s Mr. Orange.

“Tiny Dancer” (Elton John) Almost Famous – (2000, dir. Cameron Crowe) The members of Stillwater, along with their entire crew of roadies and groupies, enjoy a moment of unmitigated joy in their tour bus, in an impromptu sing-along of the Elton John hit, unofficially inviting 15 year-old journalist William Miller into their family of gypsies.

“Sister Christian” (Night Ranger) Boogie Nights – (1997, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson) John C. Reilly, Thomas Jane, and Mark Wahlberg sit in a growing rage of paranoia, before getting up the nerve to rob coke dealer Albert Molina, who dances in his underwear to the song, as his Asian lover periodically lights firecrackers in the background.

"Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" (B.J. Thomas) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - (1969, dir. George Roy Hill) For those of us who saw this movie as young children, this scene, in which Butch takes his friend's girl for a romantic bike ride (with no rain in sight, strangely) was our first glimpse at seeing the opposite sex as something other than "yucky." Katherine Ross was stunning.

“Goodbye Horses” (Q Lazzarus) Silence of the Lambs – (1991, dir. Jonathan Demme) I’m not sure how many of us had heard this haunting song before seeing the famous “Buffalo Bill Dance,” (picture "tucking it in") but if we ever heard it again, we’d certainly think of one of the most disturbing sequences (not to mention brilliant acting by Ted Levine) in modern film…

"Mr. Postman" (The Marvellettes) Mean Streets - (1973, dir. Martin Scorsese) Scorsese uses popular music like crazy in his movies (culminating with a near-nonstop musical soundtrack for Goodfellas in 1990), and this is one of his earliest. He likes to "choreograph" his fight scenes, and this one -- after DeNiro and company object to being called a "mook" -- is one of the first examples of this well-known Scorsese device.

"Surfin Bird" (The Trashmen) Pink Flamingos - (1972, dir. John Waters) If you haven't seen it, I'm not going to describe it. Best not to think about this scene for too long.

"Layla (Piano Exit)" Derek and the Dominoes - Goodfellas - (1990, dir. Martin Scorsese) This four-minute "outro" of the song "Layla" becomes the signature song of a LOADED soundtrack, when Ray Liotta explains the meaniing of the term "Goodfellas" while we see the aftermath of Jimmy's (DeNiro's) "housecleaning." The camera pans into the murder scenes of six former associates. The sequence culminates when the song goes silent, along with Liotta's voiceover, and we hear Joe Pesci's Tommy whimper, "Oh, no," when he realizes he's not going to be made, he's going to be whacked...

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