Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Kermode, Mark. "Twisting the Knife." In Celluloid Jukebox: Popular Music and the Movies Since the 50s, ed. Jonathan Romney and Adrian Wootton, 8-21. London: British Film Institute, 1995.

Popular music in film can serve to inspire and enliven directors and accompany, counterpoint, boost, or ironically comment upon their visual work. Popular music can create an instant period location, establishing time and place with just a few choice chords, haunting vocal phrases, or distinctive drumbeats. More than any other art form, popular music is a disposable, transient product that reflects, mimics, and occasionally shapes the American zeitgeist through film music. American popular music can serve as a film's memory, tapping into a nostalgic past or fixing the film firmly in the present. In the film score of Richard Brooks's Blackboard Jungle, which borrowed Bill Haley and the Comets' Rock Around the Clock, and Frank Tashlin's score for The Girl Can't Help It, which included music from Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps, Eddie Cochran, Julie London, Fats Domino, and Little Richard, Brooks and Tashlin were successful in capturing the essence of the 1950s teenage experience by incorporating the emerging genre of Rock and Roll. Contemporary popular music has also been used to help tell the story. Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider used Steppenwolf's Born to be Wild to epitomize the new breed of youth rebellion in the 1970s. John Badham's Saturday Night Fever featured the Bee Gees, Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing included rap and blues artists, and Cameron Crowe's Singles showcased Seattle 1990s grunge bands, all utilizing contemporary artists to place the film in the "now." John Carpenter's sound track to Christine, based on Stephen King's novel, references the nostalgic 1950s through the radio of the 1958 Plymouth Fury. American films based on the Vietnam War rely heavily on the political sentiments expressed via 1970s Rock and Roll; Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now opens ominously with The Door's The End, while Mark Rydell's For the Boys has Bette Midler on screen singing The Beatles' In My Life as her son is killed in battle. Film scores often develop a symbiotic relationship between pop music and film, where the music borrowed for a film is re-released as a marketing scheme for the movie.

Works: Richard Brooks: score to Blackboard Jungle (9); Bobby Troup: songs for The Girl Can't Help It (9); Dennis Hopper: score to Easy Rider (12); Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb, and David Shire: songs for Saturday Night Fever (12); Spike Lee: score to Do the Right Thing (12); Cameron Crowe, et al.: score to Singles (12); Mike Nichols: score to The Graduate (12); Michelangelo Antonioni: score to Blowup (12), Zabriskie Point (12); John Carpenter: score to Christine (13); Carmine Coppola: score to Apocalypse Now (16); Philip Kaufman: score to The Wanderers (16); Dave Grusin and Diane Warren: score to For the Boys (17).

Sources: Max C. Freedman and Jimmy DeKnight: Rock Around the Clock as performed by Bill Haley and the Comets (9); Mars Bonfire (Dennis Edmonton): Born to be Wild as performed by Steppenwolf (12); Paul Simon: Mrs. Robinson (12); Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel: Scarborough Fair (12); Jeff Beck, Chris Dreja, Jimmy Page, and Keith Relf [The Yardbirds]: Stroll On (12); David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Richard Wright [Pink Floyd]: Come in Number 51, Your Time is Up (12); Traditional: Sugar Babes as performed by The Youngbloods (12); Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter [The Grateful Dead]: Dark Star (12); The Doors: The End (16); Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio: Walk Like a Man as performed by the Four Seasons (16); Lee Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, and Richard Gottehrer: My Boyfriend's Back as performed by The Angels (16); Dion DiMucci and Ernie Maresca: Runaround Sue,The Wanderer (16); Bob Berryhill, Jim Fuller, and Ron Wilson [The Surfaris]: Wipe Out (16); Acker Bilk and Robert Mellin: Stranger on the Shore as performed by Mel Martin (16); John Lennon and Paul McCartney: In My Life (17).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Film

Contributed by: Kathleen Widden

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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