Since the 1960s popular cinema has been regularly combined with pop music. Often times I’ll hear a song completely differently after seeing/hearing it used in a particularly effective scene in a movie. Here are a few songs I hear often coupled with the scenes that changed them for me forever.
Hard not to start with Scorsese when talking about pop songs that have been forever removed from any previous context due to their expert use in a movie. Here are some of my favorite examples, starting with the aftermath of Robert de Niro’s Jimmy cleaning up the loose ends after the Lufthansa heist in Goodfellas set to Derek and the Dominos “Layla”.
And how can you not follow it up with some Tarrantino – of course it’s so hard to choose but here are the two that sprang to mind: David Bowie’s “Cat People” in Inglorious Basterds and Stealer’s Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with you” in that greusome scene in Reservoir Dogs.
And the wunderkind Xavier Dolan in one of my favorite films of this year: The Knife’s “Pass this On” in Heartbeats
“Modern Love” by David Bowie in Leos Carax’s Mauvais Sang is exhilarating.
The Coen Brothers have also been good at owning some classic songs, few moreso than “Danny Boy” set to a botched mob hit in Miller’s Crossing.
Among the many amazing uses of period music during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the early 80s was Public Image Limited’s “This is Not a Love Song” in Ari Folman’s animated documentary Waltz with Bashir.
Seemingly harmless songs can be made nightmarishly unsettling as seen in this iconic sequence set to Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet…
…and, of course, Q Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses” in The Silence of the Lambs.
ODing to the strains of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” in Trainspotting (sorry for the dubbing – a good link to this was hard to find).
David Fincher made Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” incredibly forboding in Zodiac
And I’ll end up with one of my childhood faves: Santo and Johnny’s “Sleepwalking” in the Ritchie Valens biopic La Bamba (again sorry for the dubbing).
What pop songs can’t you hear without thinking about the movie they’re from? Please gimme your list in the comments.