Early on in Martin Scorsese’s latest film, The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio’s brash young broker throws a party at his office. Strippers, a secretary with a shaved head and even a marching band parade around while his coworkers are worked into an animalistic frenzy. It could be a scene from any raunch comedy, until Scorsese drops the needle on a recording of Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom.” Suddenly, the bacchanalian excess goes from nutty to nightmarish, and the way he syncs the hedonistic abandon with James’ creeping guitar just feels. . . perfect.
Of course, Scorsese has long had a knack for finding the right pop or rock song to kick a scene into the stratosphere. For every time he’s used a Bernard Hermann score or a Bach sonata, there are a dozen instances when he’s employed vintage R&B, doo-wop, blues or British Invasion numbers — “the music we used to hear in the street,” he’s said — to liven up his films. So we’ve come up with an alphabetical breakdown of Scorsese’s musical legacy – the most memorable songs in his movies to his connections to rock icons, from “Atlantis” to Warren Zevon. To paraphrase his favorite band, it’s just a click away.