Motion Picture Soundtracks

A short and incomplete list of motion picture soundtracks that I love.

In July of 2003 I found myself packing boxes. It was an absurd number of boxes, somewhere around 40, mostly filled with books and CDs. My wife and I were moving, again, and found it would be cheaper to ship most of our possessions via the United States Postal Service. The main reason for this was the media mail (or media rate) discount. Given that we owned many books and CDs if we spread them out among our clothes (and meager household items) all of the boxes would qualify for this lower rate.

On the first box I discovered that we did not have any packing tape. When I mentioned this my wife said, “Just use duct tape.” When I questioned this choice she assured me it was the smart move. “Duct tape can fix anything. They use it to hold airplane wings together.” I should add that I have an abhorrence of the post office and as such I defer to my wife (henceforth to be known as Kate) in all matters. So we packed all of our boxes with duct tape.

The following day we brought them to the post office to pay for shipping. We then were promptly informed that we could ship these boxes but since they were all packaged with duct tape insurance would not be an option. It was an ungodly amount of boxes sitting on the floor of the post office. It had taken many trips to get them all to the building from our apartment. The most assuredly would not survive having the duct tape ripped off and packing tape applied. Plus we’d have to try and do all of this in the tiny lobby of the post office in Austin, Texas.

So we shipped our possessions without insurance and over the next few days drove to Washington, DC. When we arrived we found that the delay we had requested for delivering our boxes was not observed. The boxes were sitting outside in front of our new apartment and it had been raining heavily. The typical whirlwind of trying to move in and set up a new home occurred and neither of us noticed that a few boxes were unaccounted for.

Which is why months later, when I was going through our CDs looking for something to listen to that I noticed I couldn’t find certain albums. Where was Blonde on Blonde? Or The Rising? Looking closely I noticed a number of favorites were not on the shelf. The CDs I had tried, repeatedly to sell over the years were still there (Marching to Mars and B-Sides Ourselves in particular) mocking me.

A number of phone calls later we learned that a number of boxes had been damaged badly during the move. The post office had a policy of taking those boxes and holding them so the contents would not be further damaged. They then were meant to notify the recipients of the package(s) of the situation and from there it would be resolved. I am not sure what the next step would be as the post office also had a time limit on how long they would hold said boxes and we had passed that by the time we realized they were missing. Which meant the post office had already auctioned off (their words which I find implausible) the contents of our boxes. Nothing further could be done.

I write all of this to explain how I came to lose half of my CD collection (which was formidable at one time) in 2003. Of the many lost albums were soundtracks to films. As far as I can tell somewhere in the 00’s studios stopped creating (paying for?) soundtracks for films that consisted of popular artists contributing songs. Which is an absolute shame because many of my favorite songs come from such soundtracks. I also came to know many wonderful bands from buying a film’s soundtrack. Below I’d like to say a few words about some of the important soundtracks of my life.


If you weren’t around to experience the first Batman film it may be hard to explain what a phenomenon it was. The movie was released in the summer (June) and played in theaters forever. Where I lived there was one movie theater that had two screens (a third was added but in my memory it was after this time). One of the screens is absurdly small, it is the only movie theater I have been in where they have single seats.

When I say that the movie was in theaters forever I mean to say that I believe it ran until at least Thanksgiving. The film industry was different then so having new movies every week was not yet the norm. This was such a successful film, in every way, that it was not atypical for it to continue running for months.

One of the reasons this film permeated the culture the way it did was because it had a distinctive, excellent soundtrack. With only nine songs on the album it somehow managed to have something for everyone, Prince was one of those artists that even if his music was not your thing (I am one of those people) you still listened to it. On a near weekly basis I find myself humming “Little Red Corvette”, “Raspberry Beret” or “When The Doves Cry”. His best songs are not on this soundtrack but what he put here made its way onto all of the radio stations and into the cars and homes of America. Everyone knew “Batdance” with its distinctive opening.

This soundtrack is the first that I can remember listening to and realizing it was something different than a studio album. I was pretty young at the time, I know it was my sister who purchased the cassette (you read that right!) but we played it over and over.


Clerks is the film that made me want to make movies. It stands to reason that it’s soundtrack had a profound effect on me as well. In addition to a number of songs I already knew (“Got Me Wrong”, “Shooting Star”) there were a number of unexpected gems on this album. “Kill the Sexplayer” in particular was a fun discovery –

This album is perfect. It fit the film, introduced people like myself to a number of artists and had familiar songs and bands as well. I always enjoy soundtracks that sample dialog from the film, it’s fun, and there is plenty of that here. Plus you get those odd, one of a kind songs that you would never choose to listen to on their own (looking at you “Chewbacca”).

One of the interesting things about this film is that it was touted as being an independent film made for little money ($23,000 I believe) but when discussing the soundtrack it was made clear that Miramax spent quite a bit (one million dollars) to secure the rights. I’m not sure how much was spent to clean up the footage but I know it was substantial. Whatever it was it was worth it. An excellent film with a wonderful soundtrack.


This is one of the better soundtracks I’ve ever heard. Whoever came up with the idea of “let’s get two artist/bands together and have them make a song” for every song on the album (except track 7 – does Stabbing Westward not play well with others)?! That person is a genius. I recognize that this is not the typical collaboration as most of these collaborations are bands with a DJ/group remixing their song. Just go with me please.

There are a number of gems on this soundtrack, “Tiny Rubberband”, “Kick The P.A.”, “One Man Army” and “Spawn” are all solid tracks. My favorite on this album (the video probably tipped you off to this) is (Can’t you) Trip Like I Do. It’s a solid track that ticks off all the right boxes for me. This is certainly an album I enjoy driving and listening to. It’s good background music if that is what you desire.

The X Files

This is one of the more ecclectic soundtracks of the 90’s (that I encountered). The people who made songs for this were certainly not chosen for their similarities. I always found this pleasing and fitting for the show. Sure, the X Files never strayed too far from it’s alien/paranoid/weirdness but there was a bit of wiggle room and when they could they deviated.

I chose the song “More Than This” by The Cure to feature but honestly it could have been most of the tracks. I like this song in particular because of it’s rhythm. There is a flowing quality to the song that the vocals enhance. It feels otherworldly but comforting. It’s a great song.

There are many others on this album that are noteworthy, “Black”, “The Hunter”, “Beacon Light”, “Flower Man”, “16 Horses” and “One More Murder” are all favorites of mine. Listening to these songs now I can hear similarities that were not apparent before. I am sure it has to do with recording techniques and producers using similar sounds and ideas. No escaping such things but I feel the songs hold up.

The Crow

This soundtrack will forever hold a special place in my heart. I had not heard Rage Against The Machine before listening to this and this song is one of my favorites of theirs. There are so many excellent songs on this album, “Dead Souls” by NIN, “Color Me Once” by the Violent Femmes, “Burn” by the Cure, “Snakedriver” by Jesus and the Mary Chain and “Big Empty” by the Stone Temple Pilots. It’s an incredible soundtrack that shaped its film in many ways.

Fight Club

I had not heard of The Dust Brothers prior to listening to the Fight Club soundtrack. This is an interesting album in that no one song stands out to me as the best. I chose “Single Serving Jack” because whenever I listen to the album I always pay attention when it comes on. It’s a fast paced song that, like all the tracks, builds on what comes before it.

This is one of my favorite albums to have as background music. Whether driving or writing I love to put it on and let it slosh around in my mind. I never pay it much direct attention but I love it.

Pulp Fiction

To be alive in the mid-90’s and not listen to the Pulp Fiction Soundtrack was impossible. It’s an odd soundtrack, I’m not sure all of the songs work well with one another (like the film itself) but perhaps that jarring nature is the point. I believe I knew this song before hearing the soundtrack but it certainly came alive for me when I did. It’s just such a good, heartfelt piece of music. There are a number of other, excellent tracks on the album.

Romeo and Juliet

Oh, this album. Picking a favorite song off of the Romeo and Juliet Soundtrack is almost like choosing a favorite child. I don’t want to do it. So let’s instead say that the above song by Radiohead, “Talk Show Host” was chosen because a) it is a great song and b) I wanted to put something up by this formerly amazing band. Seriously. I miss them.

Song after song on this album delivers the goods. From Everclear with “Local God” and Garbage with “#1 Crush” to “Kissing You” by Des’ree and “Everybody’s Free (to feel good)” by Qunidon Tarver you cannot go wrong. I’m not sure who was responsible for putting this album together but they exceeded all expectations and gave the world a wonderful gift.

Batman Forever

Okay this one did not figure in as much for me at the time, despite having some great songs. Everyone heard Seal perform “Kiss From a Rose” and U2 deliver “Hold me, Kill Me, Kiss Me, Thrill Me” but the song we should have all been playing was Michael Hutchence covering “The Passenger”. Holy smokes this is a good cover. It’s not really surprising, INXS was a tremendous band and he was an incredible performer. I’m happy to be able to include this here.

The Matrix

Probably as important as Pulp Fiction (at least in my circle) was the release of this album. I could not have told you that this song was called “Spybreak (Short One)” or that the band is Propellerheads but I feel like this is THE song of the album. It’s important in the film and when you listen to the album as a whole it stands out. Yes, there is a great Rage Against the Machine song here, as well as “Du Hast” and “Rock Is Dead” but I think this is the one.


Yes, I am taking the cowards way out and choosing two songs for this soundtrack. I admit it. I’m driving this ship and that’s the deal. Let’s move on.

The soundtrack to drive is much like the costumes and titles of Drive – it’s weird. Would anyone else have made these choices? These songs are such a strange juxtaposition to the images they accompany in the film. We have, with time and repeated viewings (listenings) come to accept these pairings but I assure you – they are still weird.

But weird in a wonderful way that makes us love them more. “A Real Hero” is such a tender and heartfelt song and despite it being kinda wrong about the main character I love it. I have come to love it. I would never have listened to it without this film but now it is a part of me. The same can be said for “Night Call”. I have listened to quite a bit of Kavinsky’s music since hearing this, something I never would have done. Together they work with the other pieces of music to give us the film that is Drive. I can’t argue with that.


How many of us knew Aimee Mann before this soundtrack? How many of us have been changed forever because of it? Picking a song was hard, but I think “Driving Sideways” is correct. It moves me every time. It somehow captures the essence of this big, messy film. It’s incredible.


Trying to pick a favorite song on this album is, again, nearly impossible. I went with “State of Love and Trust” because it’s so good and as with Radiohead I miss Pearl Jam being a good band. It’s hard to watch amazing bands/musicians lose the thing that made them so good but, alas, it happens all too often. Come home, son!

Cameron Crowe, to no one’s surprise, captured the incredible music scene of the time with this film and soundtrack. “Would?”, “Dyslexic Heart” oh and “Seasons”. Gah. This soundtrack would be a wonderful way to introduce someone unfamiliar with grunge music to the world. So much goodness here.

Wayne’s World

I love this movie and I love this album. I was unfamiliar with so many of the bands and songs when I heard it and I will be forever grateful for the exposure. I knew Jimi Hendrix when I heard “Foxey Lady (2)” but seeing Dana Carvey perform his dance to it changed me. I am, morally at least, obligated to state that I should have put “Bohemian Rhapsody” as the main song, since I had not heard it prior to this film either. But, dang it, I wanted to have it be Jimi.

Tia Carrere covering “Ball Room Blitz” Alice Cooper’s “Feed My Frankenstein” and Gary Wright’s “Dream Weaver” are all wonderful songs on this fun album. I imagine Wayne’s World is a film that will soon be lost to time, which is a shame, but hopefully these songs will live forever.

Charlie’s Angels (2001)

This. Always this. Destiny’s Child may have gotten a lot of attention (and rightfully so) for “Independent Women” Pt.1 but Sam Rockwell dancing to “Got to Give it Up” Pt.1 will forever be the moment. Not only was it an important reveal for the story and the character but it was cool.

Charlie’s Angels was a lot of things, it was fun and silly and sexy but it was also cool. This soundtrack reflects all of these qualities with songs like “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel” and “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”. Unexpected (and wonderful) tracks like “Tangerine Speedo” and “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” compliment the film and it’s underdog nature. No one expected this to be the hit it was – and all of us get to benefit from the film and this soundtrack.

I am positive I am leaving out other, wonderful soundtracks I have owned and listened to. This is by no means a comprehensive list. I wanted to share something similar to my post on cover songs and try and spread a little love around. I feel like I achieved that.