With New York's very own The Virgins releasing their new album Strike Gently - released with a little help from fellow Big Apple native Julian Casablancas who made the band his first signings on his label Cult Records - on Monday (18 March) frontman Donald Cumming has created a city-celebrating Playlist with a difference for us. He's not just picked ten tracks that celebrate New York, but ten movies set in the Five Boroughs that feature the. "Here are ten of my favourite song moments from New York City movies, in no particular order," he writes. "When I got this assignment I thought it would be fun to write it in the style of real movie reviews. Unfortunately, this list contains both opinions and spoilers, not sure which is worse, but in any case, you've been warned."
Traditional country folk song - Streets Of Laredo (Cowboy's Lament) as featured in Bang The Drum Slowly "This movie is about a slow witted baseball player with a terminal disease who plays for a fictitious team modelled on the Yankees. But it's really about cliques, and bullying, and finding compassion for others, even when they're easy targets for ridicule. When De Niro's teammates learn that he's dying, one-by-one they become the caring friends he'd always wished they'd be, and the saddest part is, he's so happy to be included, he bares them no grudges. At the climax of the movie, 'Piney Woods', the rough and tumble catcher who's been called up from the minors to replace De Niro when he gets too sick to play, serenades the locker room with his guitar and this beautiful old country ballad. This scene can make even the most hardened wise ass shed a tear."
KC And The Sunshine Band - Get Down Tonight as featured in Sid & Nancy "There's really no arguing that Sid & Nancy is pretty bad. The Johnny Rotten character, or caricature, or whatever that is is truly unforgivable. But the second half of the movie, the NY half, still holds up in some spots, especially one of the last scenes: when Sid comes out of Rikers, and after weirdly buying some pizza, runs into a gang of little kids. The kids have a boom box and invite Sid to dance with them, calling on him to 'not be stuck up', and so with soggy slice in hand he shakes a spindly black denim leg to this jam. While the upbeat disco does a nice job of contrasting the emotional crater Sid's stumbled into, it also has an eerily melancholic lead guitar line that reinforces the underlying certainty of what's to come, and sure enough, in a scene that's way more heavy handed but also quite sweet, Nancy's ghost pulls up in a cab and the two ride off together into oblivion."
Brownie Mcghee - Rainy Day as featured in Angel Heart "I'm pretty sure this recording was done on the set of the movie because he keeps saying his character's name throughout, but it's definitely the real Brownie Mcghee singing. He plays a voodoo loving guitarist named Toots Sweet who ends up murdered in New Orleans with his genitals stuffed in his mouth. The entire soundtrack to Angel Heart is incredible; with one of the most memorably haunting scores out there, adapted from an old song, Girl Of My Dreams (that they use sped up for the movie), and also reinterpreted into a synth/ sax theme by Trevor Jones and Courtney Pine."
Dock Boggs - Sugar Baby as featured in Julian Donkey Boy "One of my favorite scenes in this movie is when Werner Herzog's character tries to get his son to wear his deceased wife's dress and dance with him. The son says, No thanks, so Herzog offers him ten dollars: Come on, you're the only one who looks like your mother. This is pretty illustrative of the kind of madness that billows through the sweet and disturbed domestic comedy that is Julian Donkey Boy. Sugar Baby is a perfect backing track to Herzog's hi jinx; it functions kind of as his theme. Also, this movie deserves special props for being one of the rare films not only just shot in Queens, but also set there."
Schooly D - Saturday Night as featured in King Of New York "Abel Ferrara puts amazing songs in all his movies, not the least of which are ones written and performed by him (see end credits of Bad Lieutenant), but his soundtrack collaborations with Schoolly D are probably his most famous. They've worked together on most if not all of Ferrara's best movies since 1990, King Of New York being the first, which is enough reason to choose this scene even with out the fact that watching Christopher Walken do The Funky Chicken, or whatever, to a low fi rap song, is arguably one of the best movie moments ever."
NB Comin' Home to You, Everything Old Is New Again are currently unavailable
Michael Franks - Comin' Home to You (is Like Comin' Home to Milk and Cookies) as featured in Author, Author "This song when examined outside of its intended context is certainly ridiculous. The movie's about a newly estranged husband with a gang of adopted and step children on his hands. None of the kids want to be separated or go back to their former housing options, so they form a kind of motley dysfunctional family. When you hear it within that context, the song is becomes a rallying point for any childhood memories of unorthodox family situations that you just wouldn't have wanted any other way."
Liza Minelli - But The World Goes Round as featured in New York, New York "Choosing a favorite Scorsese musical moment is a bit like stunning fish in a culture tank*, so I've tried to pick one of my favourite favourites here, and possibly a lesser known one. It was between this scene and Lighter Shade Of Pale from New York Stories, and since this list is already rather testosterone heavy, I thought this would be the better selection. Ms Minelli's performance through out the entire movie, and during this song in particular, is unassailable; giving hope to anyone pitting natural talent against unlikely odds, and all the while repping for single moms everywhere." *I left Woody Allen off this list for the same reason.
Cypress Hill - How I Could Just Kill A Man as featured in Juice "The confrontation between Q and his over baring friend Bishop has been brewing from before this movie even starts. In this scene, where Bishop has pursued Q into a crowded elevator, and still attempts to shoot him, the tension is about as high as it can get. What's also really cool about this scene is the way the movie captures the effect of going to a NYC house party. Even in the elevator, the music from the party is audible, is louder in the hallway, and then blaring at full stereo capacity when they enter the dark and crowded party. It's a great effect and this song is used to the height of it's potency."
The cast - Everything Old Is New Again as featured in All that Jazz "In a similar family vein, here we have another celebration of improvisation. When the fake Fosse's only daughter performs a dance routine for him, accompanied by the most serious of his many girlfriends, on the occasion of his birthday, it's pretty heart-warming. It's a cool scene because even though their apartment and general vibe is very 80s NY, there's a universal message about the love and happy memories that can exist between people and their fucked up parents."
"Street Noise" as featured in The Panic In Needle Park "This one's kind of a cheat because there's no music on the soundtrack of this movie, not even a score. All that you get for the entire film is street noise and incidental city sounds. It's a really compelling move that helps sell the movie's realistic posturing, along with real needle injections, actual new york tenement squalor, a scene where a hardened junkie salivates while watching the top dog cut a mountain of dope down with quinine, and a terrifically sleazy performance from underrated actor Richard Bright."
For more head to Returnfromthevoid.com, plus here's The Virgins Flashbacks, Memories & Dreams from the new album.