Although today’s age of technology allows everything to be downloaded and put on an iPod, I still enjoy discovering a flawless soundtrack; that is, an album I can play straight through without pushing the skip button. As an extreme devotee to the genre of classic rock, I tend to go above and beyond when searching for the perfect album containing the songs from the decades I wish I was born in. Also an equally crazed movie buff, I have found that the majority of good music and songs from the sixties and seventies can be found on movie soundtracks. They seem to encapsulate a grab-bag of good songs from legendary artists, at a pivotal time in history and our culture. Below is my list of the top ten movie soundtracks containing music from the sixties and seventies.
Number Ten: The Graduate (1963) Two words: Simon / Garfunkel. Hits like “The Sound of Silence,” “Mrs. Robinson” and “Scarborough Fair” surround this movie soundtrack. However it’s not so much the song selection but the mood itself that is brought on by Simon & Garfunkel songs, which reminds one of Brad Braddock in the film.
This soundtrack is like a time capsule from the sixties, blending folk with pop and instrumental music. Even if you have every Simon & Garfunkel album recorded, The Graduate soundtrack includes special versions of their songs, only heard in the movie.
Number Nine: Zodiac (2007) Zodiac’s plot revolves around a serial killer. The soundtrack begins with “Easy to be Hard” by Three Dog Night, “Sky Pilot” by Eric Burdon & the Animals and “Soul Sacrifice” by Santana. “Bernadette” by the Four Tops and “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson may ironically sound like positive tunes to anyone who hasn’t seen Zodiac. However, in the movie they simply add an eerie touch to the morose, crime-scene setting of the film.
“Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” is another great song on this album that represents the darker side of a bright generation, and who would’ve thought Marvin Gaye would be the one to reflect this. However, hands down the best song on the album goes to Donovan for “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” This psychedelic gem is positively creepy and absolutely fit this movie to a T.
Number Eight: Summer of Sam (1999) Despite the subject manner of Spike Lee’s film about a serial killer in the late seventies, this soundtrack is surprisingly diverse and upbeat. Tracks include “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” by Thelma Houston, “Best of my Love” by the Emotions, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” by Elvin Bishop and the one song I would never expect to see on a soundtrack, “Baba O’Riley” by The Who. As far as genre, this soundtrack covers rock, pop, funk and disco, making this an eclectic treasure chest from this time period.
Number Seven: Wonderland (2003) The movie Wonderland may not have received much exposure, yet I hope that the soundtrack doesn’t remain unveiled. The soundtrack includes the hits “20th Century Boy” by T-Rex, “Shooting Star” by Bad Company, “Good Times Roll” by The Cars and “Search and Destroy” by Iggy Pop. “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent, “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray and “Big Shot” by Billy Joel all follow, not to mention tracks by Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and Duran Duran.
Perhaps what I like best about this album is its diversity. Even though most of the artists found here can be simplified into one genre, rarely will you find Bad Company, Bob Dylan and Billy Joel sharing the spotlight.
Number Six: Blow (2001) Blow is an excellent soundtrack that fans of the movie will surely enjoy, as virtually every great track present in the movie is seen here. The soundtrack opens up with “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” by the Rolling Stones, followed by hits like “That Smell” from Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band.
The Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light” is obviously the biggest hit on this album, while “Strange Brew” by Cream and “Black Betty” by Ram Jam add some nice touches. The highlight of this soundtrack for me was found in track #2; “Rumble” by Link Wray. The eerily ethereal yet heavy-sounding guitar in this instrumental jam makes this soundtrack well worth listening to.
Number Five: Remember the Titans (2000) Of all the football movies out there, Remember the Titans remains my favorite football movie due to its awesome soundtrack. Although the album is only twelve tracks long, each track is reminiscent of the early seventies. The CD opens up with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum and “Peace Train” by Cat Stevens. Other highlights include “Up Around the Bend” by Creedance Clearwater Revival and “Spill the Wine” by Eric Burdon and War.
Number Four: Almost Famous (2000) This is another soundtrack where every song is a good one. With a movie about a music journalist following around a rock band in the early seventies, a crappy soundtrack simply would not do. Like most of the albums for his movies, Cameron Crowe did a great job with the soundtrack for this film as well.
The soundtrack contains well known hits like “I’ve Seen All Good People: Your Move” by Yes and “That’s the Way” by Led Zeppelin. However, the best aspect of this compilation is the little known gems that it contains, such as “Feel Flows” by the Beach Boys, “Sparks” by The Who and “The Wind” by Cat Stevens. For many, “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John gave enough validity to purchase this album. Also check it out for David Bowie’s live cover of Lou Reed’s “Waiting for the Man” and the instrumental “Lucky Trumble,” composed by Nancy Wilson of Heart. (Otherwise known as the ex-wife of Cameron Crowe.)
Number Three: Dazed and Confused (1993) Although this ridiculously funny stoner flick technically has two separate soundtracks, I insist they are both equally fulfilling for any classic rock junkie. The first soundtrack (notably the blue-colored one,) contains hits from Black Sabbath, KISS, Deep Purple, and War. “Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo” by Rick Derringer, “Tush” by ZZ Top and “Slow Ride” by Foghat are all hits from the 70s that bring you back to that decade, or at the very least, take you back to this memorable film. Perhaps the best track on this soundtrack for me personally is Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone,” one of the more mellow rock songs on this energetic album.
The second soundtrack, titled Even More Dazed and Confused, contains equally excellent music from artists like Alice Cooper, Seals & Crofts, the Steve Miller Band, and the Edgar Winter Group. Highlights include the underrated “Balinese” from ZZ Top and a double dose of Peter Frampton in “Show Me the Way” and “Do You Feel Like I Do.”
Number Two: The Big Chill (1983) Despite how much I love this movie it seems I always find someone who hates it, but gives it the one compliment of having a good soundtrack. Opinions on the movie aside, one cannot deny the greatness found in this two-disk soundtrack. Disc One contains hits from Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Aretha Franklin, and the Beach Boys. Notable hits are Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and perhaps the anthem of the movie, The Band’s “The Weight.”
Disc Two consists of oldies from the Four Tops, the Isley Brothers, Lesley Gore and the Mamas and the Papas. “Feelin’ Alright” by Joe Cocker, “Time of the Season” by the Zombies and my all-time favorite, “Knights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues, close the soundtrack. Whether or not you’re a fan of The Big Chill, it’s obvious this movie would not have been a hit without the music to accompany it.
Number One: Forrest Gump (1994) Never in my life have I seen so many great songs compiled in one place. Most likely you won’t find a soundtrack anytime in the near future that trumps this either. Forrest Gump was such a great movie that portrayed so much of our culture and history that not including the dynamic music of this era would be a huge mistake. With two disks and 35 songs worth of listening, this soundtrack is nothing short of phenomenal. Disc One contains hits from The Doors, Aretha Franklin, Creedance Clearwater Revival, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley, while revolutionary anthem “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield surely brings back memories from the movie.
The first half of Disc Two is flooded with sixties ballads of peace and love, from Jefferson Airplane’s “Volunteers” to the Youngblood’s “Let’s Get Together.” The next two tracks, “San Francisco” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” have both become legendary staples of the hippie era as well. As the soundtrack comes to a close, the music gets heavier with ballads like “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac and “Against the Wind” by Bob Seger. Not one song on this CD is garbage, and that’s a lot more than I can say for a lot of compilations and soundtracks out today. If you’re a fan of classic rock, than you should have no problem embracing this masterpiece.