Making A Movie Soundtrack: No Old Dudes Invited

Dan Gibson | September 26, 2008 - 1:00 am

If a studio chose to make a film from your novel, I’d imagine you’d be somewhat protective of the final product, down to the musical choices. Then again, if you’re a novelist who enjoys albums that came out before the Duffy record, your opinions about the soundtrack will probably be summarily ignored by the people financing the picture.

Toby Young, author of How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, wanted to include some of his favorite tracks in the film’s soundtrack, but found that his selections of the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant” and Elvis Costello’s “Alison” had been replaced by “For Reasons Unknown” by the Killers and “Enough Love” by Duffy. When Young emailed the film’s producer, Stephen Woolley, with his concern that new music would date the film specifically to the chart era of those tracks, Wooley expressed his disagreement somewhat vehemently.

I think you are so wrong about the music I don’t know where to start!

Tracks like Windmills of Your Mind (The Thomas Crown Affair), Mrs Robinson (The Graduate), The Third Man Theme (The Third Man), etc, etc, etc, become classics because they represent the time and sounds when the film was made. You are fighting like a sorry sad old man to keep on board a thirty-year-old track in the same way that a UA exec would demand that Mike Nichols put songs from 1938 on The Graduate. I saw the Pistols seven times in 76/77 but I don’t want to seep the film in Bowie/Buzzcocks/Roxy Music nostalgia! We haven’t got the music right yet, but it won’t get better by putting Supertramp/Sting or George Formby shit all over it. I also saw Led Zep in 72 but I would much prefer The Killers or Scissor Sisters to convince our audience we have made a 2007 movie.

I suppose I see Woolley’s point, especially since it would be easy to stack a soundtrack with tracks that sound they were chosen by someone nostalgic for music’s good old days. But on the other hand, I’m certain someone thought that including tracks by Letters to Cleo and Save Ferris would liven up the 10 Things I Hate About You soundtrack, but no one’s comparing either of those songs to “Mrs. Robinson,” are they? Has there been a movie from the past few years where the soundtrack has actually mattered?

How to Lose Friends Arguing Over a Movie Soundtrack [Guardian Music Blog]