The Greatest Soundtracks Of All-Time (By Which I Mean The Last 30 Years)

I have nothing prepared today. I’ve been listening to a couple records, but I’m not ready to write anything about them yet. I was trying to think of what I would post today, and I remembered that I had commented to Kari last night about how awful I thought the soundtrack was for the movie we had just seen. Like music, I’m a movie geek as well. So I follow Ain’t It Cool News fairly religiously. Since moving to Chicago they’ve put on some great screenings, and last night we got to see a preview of the new Jesse Eisenberg/Aziz Ansari comedy. It was hilarious, but I really hated the music they chose. With that in mind, I’m making a top ten movie soundtracks. This is my personal list, so feel free to flame me in the comments, or make any suggestions of movies you think I missed. Note: These are regular soundtracks, not the scores for movies (maybe I’ll do that next Friday).

10. Goodfellas-Various Artists

If you look at just the soundtrack album, it doesn’t seem all that amazing. But, when you look at the movie, there are about 20 songs that they use that aren’t on the record. Each one more spectacular than the one before it. Scorsese has always been able to put music to great use in his films, but I think in Goodfellas, he got it just right.

9. She’s The One-Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Ed Burns films have never had a huge audience, but his first flick, The Brothers McMullen, was excellent. So I was a bit surprised when this flick, featuring two of the same actors and adding in John Mahoney, Jennifer Aniston, and Maxine Bahns, ended up being a bit of a dud. But the soundtrack was glorious. Petty took a disappointing movie and made it somewhat of a cult classic because of his music (that cult is mainly made up of myself and a few friends). “Walls,” “Zero From Outerspace,” and “Asshole” are all great songs. A little help from Lucinda Williams and Beck Hansen didn’t do any harm either.

8. I’m Not There-Various Artists covering Bob Dylan

I wasn’t much a fan of Tod Haynes’ Dylan movie. I thought most of the actors were good, particularly Blanchett and Gere, but I couldn’t give it my approval. The songs, however, are great. Glen Hansard’s version of “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” and John Doe’s “Pressing On” are both amazing covers of great songs. And Willie Nelson & Calexico’s take on “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)” might be even better than the original.

7. Garden State-Various Artists

I think it’s a law that this album be on the list, so it’s here just to be safe. I’ve heard a lot of hate for Garden State since the initial mass of great buzz it got upon release, and I don’t get it. If you don’t like Zach Braff, fine. But the guy put together a great soundtrack for his movie. He introduced a lot of people to The Shins and Iron and Wine who would have otherwise never heard them, and for that he deserves a spot.

6. The Wall-Pink Floyd

A great piece of music on it’s own, this album is much better than the movie. One of the best albums from a band that put out a lot of staggeringly good material.

5. Almost Famous-Various Artists

One of my all-time favorite movies includes some of the greatest songs of the 70’s. If you weren’t alive during the time, you can live vicariously through Patrick Fugit’s character William Miller. Watch the version labelled UNTITLED instead of the shorter theatrical version for more music and a better movie.

4. Rushmore-Various Artists

Wes Anderson has an amazing ability to pick perfect songs for any scene. If he ever decided to retire from directing, someone would be smart to hire him at a record company. Cat Stevens, The Who, The Kinks. I think what pushed Rushmore ahead of all the other Anderson films for me is the use of music, so here it is.

3. The Big Chill-Various Artists

I never thought much of the movie, but holy cow what a soundtrack! I’m a sucker for any movie that includes Procul Harum, so it has that going for it. Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye…the list goes on. Fantastic.

2. Purple Rain-Prince

Probably the biggest album of the 80’s. It works great as a compliment to the film, and even better as a standalone.

1. The Graduate-Simon And Garfunkel

Number one in the list of criteria is, could you imagine the movie with any other songs. In the case of The Graduate, the answer is, obviously, no. I have a beat up old vinyl copy of this record that looks like it shouldn’t play, but it does. Sounds great, too. Love the movie, love the songs.

And that’s it. Did I miss anything? I’m sure not everyone will agree, and I’m open to debate. Let’s see some other top 10’s. Or 5’s.

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