The other day, I overheard my friend singing Luis Bacalov’s “His Name was King” to his 2 year-old son. It’s a song that my friend had discovered while watching Django Unchained. And by divine providence, his 2 year-old just happens to have a toy horse named “King”, a precedent that had been established well before my friend, the father, had seen Django. The whole incident helped cement a fact in my mind- that Quentin Tarantino’s films are inexorably linked to their soundtracks. Thinking about it gave me one example after another. Here are ten songs I’ll never hear again without thinking of a Tarantino movie.
Misrlou, Dick Dale and the Deltones
I bet when you saw the article headline, this is the first song you thought about. It’s THE iconic song from all of Tarantino’s work.
Battle Without Honor or Humanity, Tomoyasu Hotei
It has been used ALL OVER THE PLACE ever since Kill Bill first came out. But I’ll always think of where I saw it first.
Slaughter, Billy Preston
Some Major League Baseball player needs to make this song their walk-up music. I’m shocked it hasn’t been done yet. If it was good enough for Hugo Stiglitz, it’s sure as hell good enough for some fat lefty off the bench whose only tool is getting extra-base hits in the late innings.
Woo Hoo, The 126.96.36.199s
Just like its Kill Bill twin, Battle Without Honor, Woo Hoo has also appeared near and far across the landscape, up to and including some stupid phone company commercial. Fortunately, it’s insulated from damage to its reputation by having first appeared in O-Ren’s bar/palace/whatever.
Little Green Bag, The George Baker Selection
It’s the song you hear as the opening credits roll while the colorful cast struts down the street in slow-motion. K-Billy’s super sounds of the 70s weekend just keeps on truckin’.
Across 110th Street, Bobby Womack
Across 110th Street is easily my favorite song on this list. Even without the Jackie Brown affiliation, it’s hard not to love this song.
Stuck in the Middle With You, Stealers Wheel
In 1974, the musicians who made up Stealers Wheel came together and decided to create a song parodying Bob Dylan. Just shy of twenty years later, the song found its legacy in Reservoir Dogs.
You Never Can Tell, Chuck Berry
If someone was inclined to combine the Batusi- Adam West’s Batman dance- and the twist all in one dance, there’s no better song to make that happen. It’s a great song. It’s not as good as a five dollar milkshake, but it’s pretty fuckin’ good.
I Got a Name, Jim Croce
What makes this entry from Django Unchained so memorable is that it comes smack in the middle of the blood and the guts and the beer, just as the film is beginning to take off. In typical Tarantino, French New Wave pastiche fashion, the pacing of the film is completely disrupted in a humorous way with Jim Croce and a character development montage establishing King Schultz as the father figure.
Comanche, The Revels
Otherwise known as “the surf song they play when The Gimp comes out and all Hell breaks loose”.
In full disclosure, this list could have included almost the entire soundtracks of most Tarantino films. What are your favorite Tarantino music moments?