Quentin Tarantino cares about music, as you can tell from watching any of his films, from his maximally discomfiting use of Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with You” in Reservoir Dogs on out. A Telegraph article on that song’s writer Gerry Rafferty describes it as “written as a parody of Bob Dylan’s paranoia,” “little more than a joke but with a catchy pop arrangement” that unexpectedly sold more than a million copies. If Tarantino has a fascination with Dylan parodies, then he has an even deeper fascination with the real thing, as revealed in a post on his ten favorite records from Uncut‘s Michael Bonner. He pulled Tarantino’s selections and comments from an interview he conducted with the director back around the time of Pulp Fiction. Above, you can watch Dylan play “Tangled Up in Blue,” which Tarantino calls his “all-time favorite song,” “one of those songs where the lyrics are ambiguous you can actually write the song yourself.” (Hear the original recording here.)
Just above, we have Freda Payne performing “Band of Gold,” another of Tarantino’s choice cuts, on Soul Train in 1970. “This is just so cool,” he says. “It’s a combination of the way it’s produced, the cool pop/R&B sound, and Freda’s voice. Its kinda kitschy in a way – y’know, it’s got a really up-tempo tune – and, the first few times I heard it, I was, like, totally into the coolness of the song. It was only on the third or fourth listen I realised the lyrics were so fucking heartbreaking.” Below you’ll find a cut from Phil Ochs’ I Ain’t Marching Anymore, which Tarantino calls “one of my favorite protest/folk albums. While Dylan was a poet Ochs was a musical journalist: he was a chronicler of his time, filled with humor and compassion. He’d write songs which would seem very black and white, and then, in the last verse, he’d say something which, like, completely shattered you.” This particular song, “Here’s To The State of Mississippi,” he considers “everything the movie Mississippi Burning should have been.”
In Bonner’s Uncut post, you can read Tarantino’s further thoughts on Bob Dylan, his declaration of Elvis’ finest era, and his film scores of choice. And speaking of things cinematic, see also our lists of Tarantino’s favorite films since 1992, his ten favorite films of last year, and what he deems the twelve greatest films of all time.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, Asia, film, literature, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on his brand new Facebook page.