Soundtrack Suggestions for Zach Braff's 'Garden State' Follow-Up - Rolling Stone
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Soundtrack Suggestions for Zach Braff’s ‘Garden State’ Follow-Up

Songs by the National, Yellowbirds and Youth Lagoon fit actor’s aesthetic

Matt Berninger of The National, Josh Kaufman of The Yellowbirds, and Trevor Powers of Youth Lagoon.

Matt Berninger of the National, Josh Kaufman of the Yellowbirds and Trevor Powers of Youth Lagoon

Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns; C Flanigan/WireImage; Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

It took Zach Braff a day and a half to raise more than $1.7 million on Kickstarter for Wish I Was Here, the planned follow-up to his 2004 movie Garden State. Braff’s debut as a screenwriter and director was “a hilarious and heartfelt ode to twentysomething angst,” Peter Travers wrote in his review. 

Then there was the soundtrack, which played like the handpicked mixtape it essentially was. In addition to going platinum and winning Braff a Grammy, the Garden State soundtrack was a sampler of indie cool, playing a big part in breaking the Shins to a wider audience and introducing many moviegoers to acts including Thievery Corporation, Remy Zero and Cary Brothers. “Music and score are very important to me, and I’ll be using them in the same way in Wish I Was Here,” Braff promises on his Kickstarter page.

Zach Braff Raises $1.5 Million in One Day on Kickstarter
The new film is about Aidan Bloom, a 35-year-old father and husband. He’s a struggling actor by trade who is given to flights of fancy while “still trying to find his identity; a purpose for his life.” Through a series of events, he ends up homeschooling his two kids, and as he teaches them, Braff writes, “Aidan gradually discovers some of the parts of himself he couldn’t find.”

It sounds like a premise ripe for musical accompaniment, with songs that are in the spirit of Zach Braff: whimsical, but also wistful. After all, even the zany moments on Braff’s sitcom Scrubs came balanced with sad-bastard songs. Here, then, are 10 suggestions for tracks, many by under-heralded artists, to include on the Wish I Was Here soundtrack.

“Fake Empire” by the National
Perfect for that late-night taking-stock scene, where our protagonist is lost in thought, illuminated only by a flickering TV in a darkened room, long after the rest of the family has gone to bed. 

“Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon (Utopia Planitia)” by the Flaming Lips
Aidan often fantasizes about being “a futuristic Space Knight,” Braff writes, which sounds like an idea Wayne Coyne could get behind.

“Starman” by Golden Smog
What self-respecting Space Knight wouldn’t hum this song under his breath from time to time? And Golden Smog’s version would be a hell of a lot cheaper to license than David Bowie’s original.

“Everyone Belongs to Someone” by Shelby Earl
Lovely, gentle accompaniment to any journey of self-discovery, this Seattle singer-songwriter’s tune is a natural fit for Aidan’s necessary realization that he can’t stay wrapped up solely in his own hopes and dreams.

“Keep Your Children in a Coma” by Future Bible Heroes
Stephin Merritt’s other band enumerates various reasons, including bullies and computer-made music, for putting kids in suspended animation, “at least until they’re teens.” Seems like a sentiment that a nervous, inexperienced homeschool parent could identify with.

“I Got You Babe” by Mark Kozelek
Sonny and Cher’s cheery ode to each other takes on a moodier cast in the hands of Kozelek, of Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon. It’s ideal for cutting the treacle in the inevitable scene in which Aidan and his wife realize this crazy homeschooling adventure has brought them closer than ever. 

“Mute” by Youth Lagoon
At once murky and catchy, this dreamily cinematic song sounds like Youth Lagoon mastermind Trevor Powers could have written it specifically for Braff.

“In Our World” by Yellowbirds
This tune works two ways: A hint of hazy psychedelia makes it an excellent launching pad for daydreams, while the title exerts a subtle gravitational pull back to the here and now.

“Shoestring” by Wall
When Aidan starts getting the hang of his new life, this quietly hopeful electro-pop tune by London singer Lyla Foy, a.k.a. Wall, could accompany the protagonist’s first little triumphs.

“It’s Only Life” by the Shins
For old time’s sake, in recognition of Braff’s early Shins advocacy. Plus, it’s a great reminder for Aidan not to take himself too seriously. It is only life, after all.


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