Movies and music are inexorably intertwined, and the best films almost always feature music in a memorable way. That could be through an original score — think of Star Wars, Jaws or Raiders of the Lost Ark without John Williams — or recorded songs.
Over the next two weeks I’ll count down ten of my favorite uses of songs in the movies. I can’t believe I haven’t done this before through nearly 2,500 Songs of the Day, but that seems to be the case. I have written about some of these songs, and mentioned some of these movies, but never as part of a theme week. In the cases where I’ve featured a song already I will post a live or alternate version. Whenever possible, I will post the movie clips as well.
As always, I have some ground rules, though I reserve the right to break them.
First, I’m staying away from theme songs written expressly for a movie. Sorry, Kenny Loggins, but ‘Footloose’ isn’t eligible (and wouldn’t have made the cut anyway).
Second, whenever possible, I’m featuring songs that I heard for the first time in the context of the movie scene. I recently praised the use of Billy Joel’s ‘Vienna’ in 13 Going On 30, but I’ve known that song so well for so long that I would never associate it primarily with the film.
Because rules are made to be broken, I’m kicking this list off with a song that I knew for a few years before its memorable appearance on screen. Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes’ was a highlight of the 1986 album So, a record I adored before seeing Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything….
But I couldn’t spend two weeks writing about great movie music scenes and not give a slot to Lloyd Dobler. So here is my…
‘In Your Eyes’ – Say Anything…
Who doesn’t love the iconic image of John Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler hoisting that boom box over his head and serenading Diane Court with their song? It has become the signature image, and scene, of one of the most beloved romantic comedies/teenage dramas of our time.
I love the look on Cusack’ face. Cameron Crowe describes it as defiant, and that’s a perfect description. He’s not just heartbroken, he’s angry about it, and it kills him to stand beneath Diane’s window hoping to win her back this way. But he has no choice.
What really kills me is the fact that, as powerful and indelible an image as this is, Diane Court never sees it. She remains in bed, resisting the urge to move to her window. That makes this moment at once incredibly romantic and devastatingly sad.
Here’s a brief clip from the film, and below is a live version of Gabriel’s song.
Love, I get so lost sometimes
Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
When I want to run away
I drive off in my car
But whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are
All my instincts, they return
And the grand façade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside
In your eyes (your eyes)
The light, the heat (your eyes)
I am complete (your eyes)
I see the doorway (your eyes)
To a thousand churches (your eyes)
The resolution (your eyes)
Of all the fruitless searches (your eyes)
I see the light and the heat (your eyes; the light, the heat)
Oh, I want to be that complete (your eyes)
I want to touch the light, the heat I see in your eyes
Love, I don’t like to see so much pain
So much wasted
And this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive
[Bridge + Hook]