Jammin’ With Josh: Movie Edition Part I

This is Jammin’ With Josh. Each week I take a look at one of the bands that I love. Or perhaps it will be a band that I just discovered and think you should check out. Or maybe it will just be a way for me to post music videos. Honestly, no one will ever know.

I know what you are thinking “Josh, is this just another excuse to write about movies?” The answer is yes and…no. You see, music can make or break a movie. That is why every so often, I will talk about some of my favorite movies with excellent soundtracks. I should warn you that there will be spoilers.

Last week I mentioned The Departed when talking about the Dropkick Murphys. The Departed is one of my favorite movies and so much of what I love probably stems from the musical choices.

The movie opens with The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter.” It just sets the tone for the movie. Frank Costello starts out by explaining the situation of Boston in the 60s and 70s, about how the Mafia controlled things, but pretty soon he and the Irish rose up to take back the streets of Boston. And what are the lyrics to the opening of “Gimme Shelter”?

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Definitely seems to fit with what Frank is saying what is happening in Boston, especially as he recruits young Colin Sullivan into his group.

Then we get “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” and it helps push the whole dichotomy between Sullivan and Billy Costigan after they graduate from the police academy. Sullivan is moving into a nice condo, while Billy is in jail working out. The way the song amps you up, really hits home later in the movie when Billy says to Madolyn that he was in jail with murderers and his hands never shook. But the scenes really hammer that point Frank made just a few minutes before about the church saying you could grow up to be a cop or a criminal, to which Frank says “when someone has a loaded gun in your face, what’s the difference?” Or something like that.

And then later we get my favorite use of a song in the movie. The scene where Billy finally breaks down and makes a move on Madolyn. During the scene, we hear Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” But instead of the normal version, this is the live version with Van Morrison. It is such an amazing song and it just makes this scene even more meaningful.

There are a few other songs that make appearances in the movie, such “Thief’s Theme” by Nas, another The Rolling Stones song (“Let It Loose”) and John Lennon’s “Well Well Well.” However, the ending, which uses Don Gibson’s “Sweet Dreams” (or at least the cover by Roy Buchanan), is haunting and somehow a little uplifting. Does that even make sense? When you hear it in the movie though, it just seems to tie everything together.

Here is the entire version by Roy Buchanan (I highly recommend checking out some of his other stuff…)

See, now I really want to watch the movie now!