Movie Tunes: High Fidelity

This week’s Movie Tunes looks at a movie that was destined to have a perfect soundtrack – High Fidelity. The movie is on two of the MovieSnobs’ Top Five Movies lists. To best communicate what this movie is about, I have included John Cusack’s opening monologue in the movie:

What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?

Obviously, this movie has to have a dynamite soundtrack, right? Not exactly. Dynamite it is not, but it does have some fantastic songs about, “heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss.” I don’t think we could ask for anything more.

Naturally, the CD kicks off with the song that the movie starts with. You might recognize it from some recent Dell commercials. The track is from The Thirteenth Floor Elevators and is called “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” Unfortunately the disc doesn’t include Cusack’s voiceover, but the track stands well on its own. It’s a groovy, sing-along kind of track. Of course, it’s a song where the singer is telling their ex that they’re going to wake up one day and realize they miss them, so it kicks off the rejection & pain theme right away.

The first three tracks are all pretty groovy, actually. Track three is a great “please forgive me” track called “I’m Wrong About Everything.” John Wesley Harding sings about the fact that he’s absolutely wrong about everything. That’s a good way to win a girl back.

“Oh! Sweet Nuthin'” by The Velvet Underground us a super mellow track. So mellow, in fact, that it sometimes seems that they forgot they were being recorded. Tracks 5 & 6 are skipable but track 7 is a must-listen. Sheila Nicholls sings a heartbreaking song called “Fallen For You.” Her vocals are hauntingly sweet, and the simple, classy music is a perfect background.

Track 8 is a great listen for fans of the movie, since it’s featured in a scene in the record store. The scene kicks off with Rob (Cusack) saying, “I will now sell four copies of “The Three EPs” by The Beta Band.” Within seconds of the start of “Dry the Rain,” customers in the store start bobbing their heads, grooving along, and asking what’s playing. The song isn’t spectacular (please forgive me Rob Gordon), but for fans of the movie it’s kind of fun to listen to.

Track 9, “Shipbuilding” by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, sounds like it should be sung by a woman in a red dress in a smoky bar, but I still love Elvis Costello nonetheless.

The only other standout track is Track 11, a cover (something I love) of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” performed by High Fidelity star Jack Black. He performs the track in the movie, since the song is a big part of Rob & Laura’s relationship (“‘Let’s Get It On.’ That’s our song. Marvin Gaye is responsible for our entire relationship.”). Sadly, his performance in the movie sounded more impressive than this recorded track. Maybe the movie was mixed with a richer tone, or maybe they had him perform it live in the movie, but this track isn’t what I expected. Still, it’s Jack Black performing a cover of a classic song, so it’s a great listen.

The rest of the tracks on the CD represent what is possibly the greatest collection of breakup songs ever. They’re not spectacular songs to listen to when you’re in a fantastic mood, but as background music or breakup-healing music, they’d be perfect.

Tracks You Can’t Miss:

  • Track 1 – You’re Gonna Miss Me – The Thirteenth Floor Elevators – Listen
  • Track 7 – Fallen For You – Sheila Nicholls – Listen
  • Track 8 – Dry the Rain – The Beta Band – Listen
  • Track 11 – Let’s Get It On – Jack Black – Listen

One other cool thing about the disc is that the CD is designed to look like a vinyl record, an object that plays an enormous role in the movie.

Stay tuned next week for more Movie Tunes.

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