Tag Archives: soundtrack

TARANTINO JUKEBOX

tarantino cigar

Yesterday morning I remembered it was Quentin Tarantino’s 50th anniversary. I’m not very objective when talking about him because I’m a diehard fan. I think he’s a genius, period.

There are many features to be analyzed (and praised) related to Tarantino’s films. Some time ago I wrote an article highlighting the important role of women in his stories, categorizing them depending on their attitude, charisma and impact on the development of his scripts. From Fabienne, Butch’s girl in Pulp Fiction, to the smart ass Jackie Brown or the vengeful Black Mamba in Kill Bill, without forgetting an intense Mia Wallace and Butterfly’s lap dance. All women have something special, and a remarkable importance in Tarantino’s universe, leaving the feet fetishism aside. In case you’re interested I could try to recover the article I published on Norma Jean Magazine and adapt into English. Just let me know.

This time, and very inspired by the controversial rap scene in Django Unchained, and the disgust shown by the master of soundtracks Ennio Morricone in his recent statements asserting he will never work with the director again due to his incoherence when matching music with scenes, I feel like talking about the musical side of Tarantino’s films.

It’s precisely that incoherence Morricone mentions what drives me crazy the most. The unexpected song in a crucial or intense loaded scene sounds. It’s so shocking I always think “damn bastard, he’s made it again!”.

On the other hand, reviewing all the soundtracks in which Tarantino’s been involved, you quickly realize his musical background is brilliant. To be honest, I wouldn’t have listened to the Delfonics or The RZA if it wasn’t because of his films, and believe me, Pulp Fiction is responsible for the discovery of Urge Overkill’s Saturation back in the day.

It’s true that because of this vintage halo Tarantino wants to soak in his films, soundtracks mostly rely on 60s and 70s bands hits, R&B and soul mainly. Excellent! I always discover some cool stuff.

Enjoying The Huey Show on BBC6Music so much lately, I only wish Quentin had his own radio show. That’d be awesome, don’t you think?

This been said I think now it’s the perfect time for a Tarantino jukebox.

1. Little Green Bag by The George Baker Selection

Not many opening credits have ever been so attractive. How much time did Tarantino spend building this scene and then adding the song? I have no idea. What I know is that he was already writing a new chapter in the history of cinema, not only marking a difference, but also creating an trademark. And of course, those men in black walking became an icon.

2. Django by Rocky Roberts & Luis Bacalov

Django was actually the main theme of the original 1967 Italian spaghetti western directed by Sergio Corbucci. This song is the perfect example of this style soundtrack. Vintage, classic, and has this desert touch.

3. Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack

After carrying out a master plot, Jackie’s finally won and has defeated all her enemies. She’s a survivor and Womack’s hit couldn’t suit her better. “Doing whatever I had to do to survive, I’m not saying what I did was alright, trying to break out of the ghetto was a day to day fight”.

4. Yakuza Oren 1 by The RZA

Former Cottonmouth has become the leader of the yakuza mafia in Tokyo and she loves her powerful position. The arrival in The House of Blue Leaves of O-Ren Ishii with her entourage, formed by Sofie Fatale, Gogo Yubari and some of the Crazy 88 guards is a brilliant sequence, and RZA’s work here impressive.

5. You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry

Probably one of the greatest scenes ever, not just for the dance but for who is actually dancing. John Travolta, better known as the king of the dance floor thanks to his role as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, had been forgotten for many years. Tarantino rescued him and transformed him into Vincent Vega, forced to dance with the boss’ woman just for her pleasure. They are terrible but still they win. Terrific!

6. Down In Mexico by The Coasters

Jungle Julia had announced on her radio show the reward of a lap dance performed by her friend Butterfly in case a guy was showing up and followed her instructions. Stuntman Mike is the guy, and already a bit loaded Arlene accepts dancing for him. And she’s really good.

7. L’Arena by Ennio Morricone

Beatrixx has fallen on the trap set by Budd, Bill’s brother. Instead of executing her, he decides to make her suffer till her last sigh and buries her tied up inside a wooden coffin with just a torch. The warrior woman remembers her hard times being trained by Master Pai Mei, and starts focusing on breaking the wood of the coffin. Morricone’s theme in crescendo creates a super intense scene.

8. Cat People (Putting Out Of Fire) by David Bowie

The night of the premiere of A Nation’s Pride has finally arrived, and now it’s time Shoshanna gets her revenge. She must be ready for everything which is about to happen and put on her war paint.

9. Misirlou by Dick Dale &His Del-Tones

Pumpkin and Honey Bunny not only start an armed robbery but also one of the craziest stories in the film history, and Misirlou is an insane instrumental song after all which fits masterly. The way it starts after the two robbers yelling is great:

Everybody be cool this is a robbery!
Any of you fuckin’ pricks move and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of you

10. Stuck In The Middle With You by Stealers Wheel

The jukebox ends with another theme included in Reservoir Dogs. This scene, with (hot hot hot) Michael Madsen, this is Mr. Blonde, dancing and cutting the infamous ear, deserves my eternal love. So masterly executed, it’s so mean and brutal, it should be rewarded or something.

Wanna dance?

SINGLES, THE PORTRAIT OF A GENERATION

I’ve heard this morning that the 20th anniversary of the release of Cameron Crowe’s film Singles had been early this week. Unbelievable! This is the kind of things which make me realize I’m not a youngster anymore, and at the same time, the awareness of this fact also invades me with nostalgic memories.

I don’t know how much you’re familiarized with this film, catching a moment of emotional mess  in the lives of a group of six friends in their 20s, living in Seattle. It is basically a cakey compilation of love stories, with one of these generational stunning casts, including Matt Dillon, Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott, Bill Pullman and Eric Stolz. And the added value of guest appearances which had to do with the current local heroes at that time.

To be honest, not only the plot is quite simple but also the movie is not big deal. It’s nice and entertaining but it’s not overwhelming. However the great achievement by Crowe was to portrait a generation of American youth in that time, affected by a wave of pessimism caused by the Persian Gulf War, which in a way awoke the ghosts from Vietnam.  And more accurately, he approached the grunge movement in Seattle, the epicenter.

 It took quite a long time to release the film in order to find the most suitable marketing strategy. The big bosses were confused about the bait to attract the audience. Love? Seattle? The voice of a generation? Grunge? Singles eventually saw the light in September the 18th 1992. Here in Spain things took even longer time and the film was released the year after in August, worse timing ever as most Spanish people are away on holidays, so it just lasted one week in cinemas and Singles was unnoticed.

Cameron Crowe has a taste for romantic and mild stories, but also, and this is what makes his movies worth watching from my own point of view, the director is a music lover, and the soundtracks are essential in his films. They are awesome.

What happened to the Americans with Singles and its soundtrack, was the same which occurred here. Officially the soundtrack of the film was released about 2-3 months before the film was released. It included songs from the hottest bands in Seattle: Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins and Screaming Trees. The first ones released two songs for the film, Breath, and my personal favorite, State of Love and Trust. Chris Cornell also recorded the wonderful Seasons, and the presence of Nancy and Anne Wilson (Heart) as The Lovemongers was also remarkable. This soundtrack was a compilation of the current Seattle scene of the time, and it was the final push to consolidate grunge and turning it into mainstream.

As commented before, Singles was released in Spain in summer 1993 which was a complete disaster. All of my gang, approx 20 boys and girls, were on holidays, and never heard of Singles in town. It took more than half a year to be re-released for just one week again and it was in English with subtitles, something unbelievable in that time, which made the whole experience even more exciting so we could hear “their” voices for real.

Therefore, in early Spring 1994, a gang of 20 went to Eliseos movie theater in our coolest outfits to watch Singles. You can imagine, wool hats, plaid t-shirts, Doc Martens, XL tees with our bands there… it was like attending a live concert. By then we had learnt the soundtrack by heart, thus when we were hearing Nearly Lost You or Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns subtly, we were all singing low. And we were out of control when Eddie Vedder (I was in love with him for many years) and Chris Cornell were appearing. I think we really didn’t pay so much attention to the film because when it was over we thought it was one of the best movies ever, and we were hugging each other as if congratulating for sharing the experience. I kept the film advertisement on the local newspaper for ages. We were 17. We were a bunch of teenagers, genuinely innocent and easily affected, crazy about our most recent discovery and passion: rock, and Singles was the peak of it. And we all were trying to start our bands hahahah

Few years later the gang was missing members day by day, and everybody grew up and moved on.  Most of them are into music, but we’ve separated paths and our tastes are different. We are spread in the world, some are married, some have kids, guys cut their hair, girls left their Martens in their wardrobes… Still in touch with some of them, but in the distance.  Probably I’m closer to what I was back then than the rest of my friends, and it’s funny, because I wasn’t the coolest, nor the toughest, not the most badass in the gang. The truth is that I’m still devoted to rock and music, even more committed than I was as a teenager.

Anyway, at the end of the day what Singles really means to me is the tangible summary of the most intense period in my life, when I started being myself, growing up, taking decisions, getting acquainted with many things, experiences… Singles is the witness of my lifetime choice. Positive, one of the best times in my life.

(*) Johanssen, Vane and Lorenza, hope you read this. I love you!