Hear the Great Mixtapes Richard Linklater Created to Psych Up the Actors in Dazed and Confused and Everybody Wants Some!!

Richard Linklater’s films have become increas­ing­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed as the 90s indie break­out writer-direc­tor has grown into his auteur­hood. From the loose ston­er vérité of Slack­ers (watch it online) to the loose but heady ani­ma­tion of Wak­ing Life to the painstak­ing­ly metic­u­lous “mod­el of cin­e­mat­ic real­ism” of Boy­hood, Lin­klater has a unique­ly Amer­i­can vision and the unde­ni­able tal­ent to real­ize it in full.

But most­ly when I think of Lin­klater, I think—excuse my language—of cock rock.

I think of Dazed and Con­fused’s super senior Wood­er­son, lean­ing against a mus­cle car, drawl­ing “alright, alright, alright,” and crank­ing Aero­smith. I think of wild-eyed Jack Black in School of Rock, strap­ping a Gib­son Fly­ing V on an uptight, sweater-vest­ed youth and teach­ing him Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” riff. And now, I think of a gang of short shorts-wear­ing col­lege base­ball dudes in the “cam­pus bro­manceEvery­body Wants Some!!, singing along (above) to Sug­ar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”…. wait…

So, okay, it ain’t all cock rock. But Linklater’s films are often so dude-cen­tric, and so informed by pop­u­lar music of cer­tain eras, that he titled two of his most per­son­al—Dazed and Con­fused and its recent “spir­i­tu­al sequel”—after anthems from the two most arche­typ­i­cal­ly cock rock bands, Led Zep­pelin and Van Halen.

Where Dazed and Con­fused’s high school milieu more or less stayed anchored in 70s hard rock, Every­body Wants Some!!—like its com­par­a­tive­ly adven­tur­ous col­lege jocks—takes sev­er­al musi­cal detours from beer-and-babes 80s clichés. The film’s sound­track, for exam­ple, includes “deep cuts” from Bri­an Eno, obscure local Texas punk rock band The Big Boys, and L.A.-based 80s New Wave/R&B band The Bus­boys.

It’s true, then, that the songs choic­es on Every­body Wants Some!!, which you can hear almost in their entire­ly (sans a few) above, are fair­ly diverse, genre-wise, com­pared to the cock-rock-heavy list of songs from Dazed and Con­fused (fur­ther up). And when it comes to Linklater’s musi­cal inspi­ra­tions for both films, we see that dif­fer­ence as well.

linklater mixtape dazed

As the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion blog doc­u­ments—bring­ing us the 1992 let­ter above (read it here) from Lin­klater to his cast—the direc­tor put togeth­er “a thought­ful series of mix­tapes to get his cast into the mind-set” of Dazed and Con­fused. And Cri­te­ri­on put togeth­er the Spo­ti­fy playlist below of the songs Lin­klater gave his actors. As you’ll see, it’s most­ly balls-to-the-wall hard rock, with some oblig­a­tory 70s dis­co and a few cuts from Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Elton John. In his accom­pa­ny­ing let­ter, Lin­klater admits “a few of the songs are a lit­tle cheezy,” but also notes “there are a few places for iron­ic usage.” For the most part, he says, “this music… is like the movie itself—straightforward, hon­est and fun.”

When it came time to begin shoot­ing Every­body Wants Some!! (get the offi­cial sound­track here), Lin­klater again used the same method to get his cast in the mood, cir­cu­lat­ing the songs in the playlist below (though prob­a­bly not on cas­settes). Here we get a much more diverse, com­pre­hen­sive musi­cal sum­ma­ry of the decade in ques­tion, with Michael Jack­son sit­ting next to Elvis Costel­lo, Pat Benatar and Dire Straits next to Pink Floyd, Sis­ter Sledge, Queen, and Cha­ka Khan.

It’s an inter­est­ing tran­si­tion that may—musically—signal the move from teenage fan­dom to the more curi­ous, adven­tur­ous lis­ten­ing habits of ear­ly adult­hood. Col­lege, after all, is not only where young Amer­i­cans of the mod­ern era dis­cov­er new sex­u­al and chem­i­cal plea­sures, but also where they acquire new musi­cal tastes. And in the 80s espe­cial­ly, the bound­aries of pop music expand­ed.

“That’s just how it felt to me to be a young per­son at that time. It was cool to be into every­thing,” Lin­klater com­ment­ed to Cor­nelia Rowe at Yahoo: “There was a lot of new­ness in the era. You didn’t real­ly appre­ci­ate it at the time – it’s like, there are all these new bands! There’s this new wave, punk, par­ty, R&B – there’s a thing called rap music from New York!”

The ath­lete bros in Linklater’s lat­est, very male-ori­ent­ed piece of cin­e­mat­ic nos­tal­gia “at once embody and upend the stereo­type of the shal­low, sex­u­al­ly enti­tled jock,” writes A.O. Scott in his review. Roam­ing far afield of their com­fort zones, they “have a good time wher­ev­er they are.” That’s pret­ty much guar­an­teed, I think, with the fine­ly-curat­ed 80s gems in these playlists as their sound­track.

via the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Free Online: Richard Linklater’s Slack­er, the Clas­sic Gen‑X Indie Film

Scenes from Wak­ing Life, Richard Linklater’s Philo­soph­i­cal, Fea­ture-Length Ani­mat­ed Film (2001)

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

Scenes from Wak­ing Life, Richard Linklater’s Philo­soph­i­cal, Fea­ture-Length Ani­mat­ed Film (2001)

Watch Heavy Met­al Park­ing Lot, the Cult Clas­sic Film That Ranks as One of the “Great Rock Doc­u­men­taries” of All Time

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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