From Pulp Fiction to Kill Bill to his latest, Inglourious Basterds (opening this weekend), Quentin Tarantino matches scene with song like a sommelier pairs just the right bottle of wine with a nice steak: perfectly. And it’s no wonder — the filmmaker houses a virtual record store just outside his bedroom (vinyl only), which he presides over with High Fidelity-like attention to detail. “Everything is in bins and sorted by categories,” Tarantino explained just before a signing held, appropriately enough, at Hollywood’s renowned Amoeba Records. “For instance, in the ’60s section, it would be alphabetical, then broken down into psychedelic, surf music, then British invasionâ€¦ I have a few artists off to themselves, but hands down the biggest section is soundtracks because I’ve been collecting soundtracks since I was a little boy.”
Tarantino insists he doesn’t know the exact number of albums that make up his collection, though we’re not sure we believe him. “I don’t highlight my obsessions to that degree,” he says, “but it’s pretty big.” So how does a cut make it from his turntable to the big screen? The revered director filled us in on his method through five key movie music cues.
“Stuck In The Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel
“That was one of those things where I thought [the song] would work really well, and [during] auditions, I told the actors that I wanted them to do the torture scene, and I’m gonna use ‘Stuck in the Middle With You,’ but they could pick anything they wanted, they didn’t have to use that song. And a couple people picked another one, but almost everyone came in with ‘Stuck in the Middle With You,’ and they were saying that they tried to come up with something else, but that’s the one. The first time somebody actually did the torture scene to that song, the guy didn’t even have a great audition, but it was like watching the movie. I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is gonna be awesome!’ “
“Girl, You’lll Be A Woman Soon” by Urge Overkill
“I found the Urge Overkill version of ‘Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon’ on an EP in a little record store in Holland, so I picked it up and thought, ‘Wow, that’s a really cool track.’ And it just kept staying with me and staying with me. So then I worked the scene out with Uma [Thurman] and it ended up working fantastic, it became very iconic.”
“I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield”, “I’m Blue” and “Woo Hoo” by The 22.214.171.124.s
Kill Bill: Vol. 1
“That’s an interesting story. I was in Japan and getting ready to leave for Australia with, like, two hours before I had to head to the airport. So I took a walk and passed this clothing store, I went in and there’s a cool group of girls singing on the sound system. I asked the counter lady who it was and she goes, ‘That’s the 126.96.36.199.s,’ and shows me the CD. I said, ‘Can I buy this?’ and she goes, ‘No, it’s our CD. This is a clothing store, not a music store.’ So I asked her to call the store manger. Being insistent in Japan is considered very rude. I was just being an A-hole American, but I was thinking it could be good for that crane shot I use in the movie. And I also knew, if it’s gonna happen, they’ll sell me the thing right now or I’ll forget about it. Like it’s kismet or nothing. The manager agreed to sell it to me for six Yen, and when I saw what these girls looked like, I thought they were awesome so I put them in the club scene.”
“Hold Tight!” by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
“Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich — I’m a huge fan of those guys and I actually completely agree with Jungle Julia that Pete Townshend should have quit the Who and joined them, all right? I’m a big, big fan, but that song just works so good. There’s such a cool, rhythmic bass about it and it’s just kind of perfect for a head-on car collision.”
“Cat People (Putting Out The Fire)” by David Bowie
“I’ve always really loved that song. It’s one of my favorite David Bowie songs of the ’80s but I never liked the way it was used in the movie [Cat People] because Paul Schrader didn’t really use it in the movie. He just threw it in the closing credits and I remember me and all the other guys at Video Archives were very disappointed by that. We’d go, ‘Man, if we had a song like that written for our movie, we’d build a 20 minute sequence around it!’ So I did.”
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