“Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” Nancy Sinatra, Kill Bill, Vol. 1
A bloodied, beaten, quivering Uma Thurman as The Bride in the opening scene of director Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill will forever be connected to Nancy Sinatra’s song. It was such a perfect pairing that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t written for the scene. It also let me know there was more to her than “These Boot Were Made for Walking,” a song now ruined for me by Jessica Simpson and Pizza Hut.
“I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow,” The Soggy Bottom Boys, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
This wasn’t a song I’d ever heard before but it is now so inexorably tied to George Clooney’s spectacular lip-synching that I can’t imagine how any other film could ever use it. A film moment as unique as the Coen Bros. themselves.
“Miserlou,” Dick Dale, Pulp Fiction
Tarantino is clearly the master of the soundtrack, so even though his work was well represented by the A.V. Club and Culture Kills, there is always room for more. The opening guitar licks of Dick Dale was the beginning of a stunning film experience and opened me up to the world of surf guitar. “Everybody be cool, this is a robbery…”
“Perfect Day,” Lou Reed, Trainspotting
The outstanding song of Trainspotting is without a doubt Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life,” but that one’s been taken. The other, music-laden scene that has never left my head is of Renton sinking into the floor after overdosing on heroin and being dumped at the hospital. For a brief moment we thought of using this as the first dance at our wedding, but wisely thought the better of it.
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” Queen, Wayne’s World
The best head banging ever captured on film in a scene that just nails the exuberant goofiness of the characters. I’ve tried to recreate this moment at karaoke many times but have never quite gotten it right. Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth.
“Singing in the Rain,” Gene Kelly, A Clockwork Orange
“You ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence?” I cannot hear this song without imagining somebody taking a brutal beating. I saw the Gene Kelly original years later, but even that could not erase the images from my mind.
“Sympathy for the Devil,” Rolling Stones, C.R.A.Z.Y.
It’s Christmas Eve in a Montreal cathedral in the ‘70s and a teenaged boy named Zac is getting though the service with the help of some psychotropic substances, when the choir begins singing “Ooo, who, who, Ooo, who, who” as he rises to the rafters with a Jesus Christ pose only to land back at his family’s home. A fantastic scene.
“Wise Up,” Aimee Mann, Magnolia
In the midst of the film all of the characters are alone, but they all begin singing Aimee Mann’s “Wise Up” wherever they were. Very powerful, but don’t take my word for it – watch it yourself.