While I was listening to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” for the gamillionth time yesterday, I realized I had a video clip playing in my head, and it wasn’t footage of Adele performing her hit song. It was of Chuck and Blair from the season finale of Gossip Girl, clasping hands from their hoisted chairs at a crashed wedding, one final romantic night in their tragic union before Blair is to be married off to a prince.
Yes, I watch Gossip Girl. Go ahead. Laugh. I’ll wait. But the fact that I have the same taste in TV as your fourteen year old daughter is not the point of this post. My point is about a good soundtrack. Sometimes the connection between a song and the story it helps narrate becomes so indelibly etched into the brain that the two can never be separated.
If you don’t believe me, check out the love between these two doomed, slo-mo youngsters. “We could have had it all.” I’ll love this song forever, and it will forever remind me of Chuck and Blair.
Adele and Gossip Girl aren’t the only song/story combination linked together in my mind. My playlist seems to be filled with songs from soundtracks. Here are some of my favorite uses of song to accompany story.
Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” in Grosse Point Blank
You can feel John Cusack seeing the life he hasn’t lived in that adorable baby’s eyes. “Cause love’s such an old fashioned word, And love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night, And love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves. This is our last dance. Under Pressure.”
Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” from Say Anything
And speaking of John Cusack, I see the life I could have lived with him everytime I hear “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel. “I see the doorway to a thousand churches in your eyes, the resolution of all the fruitless searches.”
Dear Husband, at some point before I die, I need to be serenaded with a boom box beneath my window. Oh, I want to be that complete.
Journey’s “Wheel in the Sky” in the Sopranos
David Chase used music brilliantly through this series. When it comes to Journey, most people will remember “Don’t Stop Believing” in that final, controversial scene, but I always remember “Wheel in the Sky” playing at the end of the episode Bust Out in season 2. Tony has just ended a particularly bad-behaving day, having ruined a friend’s sporting goods business and beaten a murder rap. He takes the helm of his new boat, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. “The wheel in the sky keeps on turning, Don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow.” It’s Tony Soprano’s anthem.
Thompson Twins’ “If You Were Here” from Sixteen Candles
If you were a straight girl in the 80s, Admit it: A part of you is still in love with Jake Ryan. Dear Husband, I also need you to wait for me outside my sister’s wedding in a red Porsche, then sit crosslegged on a table with me and a birthday cake. “If you were here, I could deceive you. And if you were here, you would believe.”
Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby” in Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Every time I see Jennifer Jason Leigh, I hear this song, and vice versa. Poor girl, losing her virginity to that scum bag in the high school dugout. “She’s gonna be somebody’s baby tonight.”
Cat Stevens’ “The Wind” in Almost Famous
Another Cameron Crowe movie, no surprise. Most people will remember that epic bus tour scene with the Elton John’s Tiny Dancer singalong, but I also love this scene with Penny Lane dancing to Cat Stevens. These kinds of moments in this film are the reason I still haven’t given up on Kate Hudson. “Where I’ll end up, well I think only God really knows.”
Cat Stevens’ “Don’t Be Shy” from Harold and Maude
And speaking of Cat Stevens, his song “Don’t Be Shy” always makes me think of the moment we met Harold as he was about to hang himself. “Don’t wear fear or nobody will know you’re there.”
Elliot Smith’s “Needle in the Hay” in Royal Tenenbaums
And speaking of songs to kill yourself by, I love the use of this song in this scene. “I’m going to kill myself tomorrow.”
Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work” in, Um, Everything
I just learned from Wikipedia that this Kate Bush song, one of my favorites, has been used in a slew of stuff I don’t watch, like CSI, Ghost Whisperer, Alias, Without a Trace, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. But since the 80s (also known as the best era ever), the song always makes me cry thanks to this scene in She’s Having a Baby. “Give me these moments back, give them back to me.”
More recently, I also really enjoyed Ricky Gervais’ use of the song in the series finale of the Extras to show his friend Maggie’s plight.
I know that some writers find inspiration in music. Our own Jonathan Hayes even created a playlist to accompany A Hard Death (love his warning that it’s “not for kids, unless they’re bad kids”). I’m not one of those people, but did last year decide while listening to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance that it was the perfect song to narrate 212. Here’s the resulting book trailer, complete with ads that pop up when you use copyrighted music on You Tube.
So, how about it? What are the songs and stories that are forever married in your minds?