The Music in Quentin Tarantino’s Films: Hear a 5‑Hour, 100-Song Playlist

Image via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

Ear­li­er this week we told you about this 326-track, 20-hour playlist of music from the films of Mar­tin Scors­ese. One of the mas­ters of jux­ta­pos­ing song with image, Scors­ese paved the way for anoth­er direc­tor with a fine record col­lec­tion, Quentin Taran­ti­no. And what do you know? There’s a sim­i­lar Spo­ti­fy playlist that you can enjoy fea­tur­ing 100 tracks and run­ning five hours. (If you need Spo­ti­fy’s soft­ware, down­load it here.)

Taran­ti­no might be more of a music geek, but he just hasn’t made as many films as Scors­ese. How­ev­er, if you came of cineaste age dur­ing the 1990s, dol­lars to donuts you had a CD of the Pulp Fic­tion sound­track in your col­lec­tion. Just like Taran­ti­no resus­ci­tat­ed John Travolta’s career, he took an obscure single–a cov­er of a Turk­ish-Ara­bic-Egypt­ian melody called “Misir­lou” by a once-pop­u­lar surf guitarist–and made it not just the open­ing track, but the sound of 1980s film­mak­ing being shot and stuffed in a trunk. (And gui­tarist Dick Dale got to have a sec­ond career from it.) The sound­track made surf instru­men­tals pop­u­lar again, Urge Overkill rel­e­vant, Neil Dia­mond cool, and insert­ed a Statler Broth­ers’ song into the col­lec­tions of thou­sands of peo­ple who wouldn’t touch coun­try with a ten foot pole.

Pri­or to this, Reser­voir Dogs used both “Lit­tle Green Bag” by George Bak­er and “Stuck in the Mid­dle with You” by Steal­ers Wheel to great effect, and the sound­track includ­ed the nar­colep­tic DJ pat­ter by come­di­an Steven Wright, but it was just an appe­tiz­er for the full Pulp Fic­tion meal.

After that, there’s still flash­es of bril­liance–Jack­ie Brown is a safe but excel­lent col­lec­tion of most­ly ‘70s soul–but the sound­tracks by them­selves don’t stand up as cul­tur­al objects in the post-CD era. Instead, there’s moments like the’s “Woo Hoo” and Tomoy­a­su Hotei’s “Bat­tle with­out Hon­or or Human­i­ty” from Kill Bill, and the goose­bump-induc­ing use of David Bowie’s “Cat Peo­ple” in an oth­er­wise peri­od cen­tric, WWII-set Inglou­ri­ous Bas­ter­ds.

In lat­er films, he’s become more of a cura­tor of Ennio Mor­ri­cone works and oth­er com­posers of the films he loves, and less of a pop mag­pie. But then, his films have dark­ened and deep­ened, and his sound­track vinyl collection–which he has col­lect­ed since a kid–just con­tin­ues to grow.
In an inter­view with Bill­board mag­a­zine, he men­tioned how inte­gral his record col­lec­tion is to his film­mak­ing process.

I am always look­ing for some cool song that I could use as a big set piece. I’ll fin­ish work and I’ll go into my record room and I’ll put on some song, and lit­er­al­ly, I can see it on the screen. I can project myself into a movie the­ater and I’m watch­ing the scene onscreen and I’m hear­ing the music and I’m imag­in­ing an audi­ence: either an audi­ence of peo­ple I know who are dig­ging it or an audi­ence of peo­ple I don’t know who are dig­ging it — they’re always dig­ging it. (laughs) And it keeps remind­ing me that I’m mak­ing a movie.

And Taran­ti­no usu­al­ly gets the rights to use what­ev­er he pleas­es because of his fame and the Quentin-bump he gives the artists: “It’s actu­al­ly quite easy to get the rights now, because I’ll use music that some peo­ple haven’t heard that much before,” he says in the same inter­view. “Then after my movie comes out, it seems like every com­mer­cial in the world buys it. They can dou­ble or triple and quadru­ple their income just by the expo­sure the movie gets it.”

Dive into this playlist and let us know any spe­cif­ic gems you find.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Jim Jar­musch: The Art of the Music in His Films

Hear a Playlist of the 336 Songs Men­tioned in Bruce Springsteen’s New Mem­oir, Born to Run

Quentin Taran­ti­no Explains The Art of the Music in His Films

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

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