A Playlist of 172 Songs from Wes Anderson Soundtracks: From Bottle Rocket to The Grand Budapest Hotel

life aquatic

So much of the writ­ing done about the films of Wes Ander­son focus­es on their visu­als — and with good cause. We’ve fea­tured pieces on every­thing from the design of their set­tings to the sym­me­try of their shots to their quo­ta­tion of oth­er movies. You can’t talk about the aes­thet­ic dis­tinc­tive­ness of Ander­son­’s work unless you talk about its visu­al dis­tinc­tive­ness, but you also miss out on a lot if you focus sole­ly on that. We must­n’t for­get the impor­tance of sound in all of this, and specif­i­cal­ly the impor­tance of music.

Casu­al Ander­son fans might here think of one kind of music before all oth­ers: the British Inva­sion. The Cre­ation’s “Mak­ing Time” in Rush­more, the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tues­day” in The Roy­al Tenen­baums, and, to take the con­cept in as Ander­son­ian a direc­tion as pos­si­ble, Por­tuguese-lan­guage cov­ers of David Bowie songs in The Life Aquat­ic with Steve Zis­sou.

Yet Ander­son­’s projects have made use of quite a few oth­er musi­cal tra­di­tions besides, as you’ll already know if you remem­ber the jazz-scored short ver­sion of Bot­tle Rock­et we fea­tured a cou­ple years ago.

But get­ting the clear­est sense of the music might require tem­porar­i­ly sep­a­rat­ing it from the movies. To that end, we offer you “From Bot­tle Rock­et to The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a Spo­ti­fy playlist by Michael Park bring­ing togeth­er 172 of the songs includ­ed in Ander­son­’s eight fea­tures so far, com­ing to over nine and a half hours of immac­u­late­ly curat­ed, 20th cen­tu­ry coun­ter­cul­ture-root­ed music, from not just the Stones and Bowie-via-Seu Jorge but Horace Sil­ver, the Kinks, the Vince Guaral­di Trio, Elliott Smith, Yves Mon­tand, Nick Drake, and the Vel­vet Under­ground. (To lis­ten, you need only down­load and reg­is­ter for Spo­ti­fy.)

While you lis­ten, why not read through Oscar Rick­et­t’s Vice inter­view with Ander­son­’s music super­vi­sor Ran­dall Poster? “Wes always talks about how those guys would wear coats and ties on the cov­er of their records but that the music was so aggres­sive and rebel­lious,” says Poster of the direc­tor’s last­ing pen­chant for the British Inva­sion. “I think that cor­re­spond­ed to [Rush­more pro­tag­o­nist] Max Fis­ch­er because he was this kid who, under­neath it all, was look­ing to break through. The music speaks to his char­ac­ter, who is out of time with the world, and I think that’s a run­ning theme in our movies and you can see it with M. Gus­tave in Grand Budapest Hotel, who is hold­ing on to a more man­nered, gen­teel era.” And what cur­rent works of art have expressed gen­teel rebel­lion, or rebel­lious gen­til­i­ty, so well as Ander­son­’s?

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What’s the Big Deal About Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel? Matt Zoller Seitz’s Video Essay Explains

The Per­fect Sym­me­try of Wes Anderson’s Movies

A Glimpse Into How Wes Ander­son Cre­ative­ly Remixes/Recycles Scenes in His Dif­fer­ent Films

Watch Wes Anderson’s Charm­ing New Short Film, Castel­lo Cav­al­can­ti, Star­ring Jason Schwartz­man

Wes Anderson’s First Short Film: The Black-and-White, Jazz-Scored Bot­tle Rock­et (1992)

Watch 7 New Video Essays on Wes Anderson’s Films: Rush­moreThe Roy­al Tenen­baums & More

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture as well as the video series The City in Cin­e­ma and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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