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The Who, XTC "Freak" Out

Freaks and Geeks finally has a soundtrack

August 27, 2004 12:00 AM ET

The long-overdue soundtrack to the cancelled cult-favorite TV show Freaks and Geeks is due September 14th. Like the show, the twenty-five-track compilation is a celebration of all things late Seventies and early Eighties, featuring tracks by Rush, Styx, Joe Jackson, Joan Jett and XTC.

During its eighteen-episode run from 1999 to 2000, Freaks and Geeks (now available on DVD) frequently integrated music into scenes, most memorably when a school guidance counselor gives a captive audience of students an unwanted acoustic performance of Alice Cooper's "Eighteen" and when the parents of characters Lindsay and Sam discuss the meaning of the Who's "Squeezebox."

"We always tried to put in songs that seemed honest to what our experience was," says executive producer Judd Apatow. "One of my favorite uses of music is when Bill is home after school and his parents aren't around, and you get the sense he's a latchkey kid. He makes a grilled cheese sandwich and gets a piece of cake and a glass of milk and he watches The Dinah Shore Show and you hear the Who playing 'I'm One' as he watches Garry Shandling do stand-up comedy. He's laughing his ass off, and you realize that TV is his best friend. It's his companion."

Apatow's life was not much different. "I used to go home, watch The Mike Douglas show and eat grilled cheese sandwiches," he says. "It was an important part of my childhood, so I would try to tell those stories using the music I listened to. I would have been listening to Quadrophenia back then, so it felt right."

For the original songs performed by the characters, Apatow and Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig would often have the actors write them themselves -- as was the case with Jason Segal (Nick) and the cringe-inducing "Lady L."

"It is one of the worst songs ever written," says Apatow. "He barely knows how to play an instrument, but he's so talented that he could write something that funny and that bad. It was perfect, because that's what a kid would write."

Freaks and Geeks: Original Soundtrack track listing:

"Bad Reputation," Joan Jett
"Geek Hallway," Michael Andrews
"Poor Poor Pitiful Me," Warren Zevon
"Lindsay's Theme," Michael Andrews
"Keg Party Music," Michael Andrews
"Look Sharp!," Joe Jackson
"Clem's Theme," Michael Andrews
"No Language in Our Lungs," XTC
"Lindsay Disturbed Theme," Michael Andrews
"Bill Gets Funky (a.k.a. Spacefunk)," Paul Feig
"USA Rock," Michael Andrews
"The Spirit of Radio," Rush
"Daniel's Theme 2," Michael Andrews
"I'm One," The Who
"Porno Music," Michael Andrews
"Neal's Lament," Michael Andrews
"The Groove Line," Heatwave
"Ken's Ode to Joy," Michael Andrews
"Come Sail Away," Styx
"End Title Theme," Michael Andrews
"Lady L," Jason Segal
"Eighteen," Dave Gruber Allen
"Jesus Is Just Alright," Jason Segal and Sara Hagen
"Up on Cripple Creek," Dave Gruber Allen
"Dumb as a Crayon," The Leaving Trains

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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