To celebrate the release of This Must Be The Place, I have listed ten films which share their name with songs. For those who don’t know, This Must Be The Place shares its name with the Talking Heads tune. And even though film and song have little in common, both song and Talking Heads front man David Byrne, appear in the film.
There is a proverbial bottomless pit of films and song which share a title. Some overtly, in reference to each other, whilst many are just tenuous links. My list has been dictated purely by a love of rock music. Bar one disco tune and a classic piece of soul; everything you are about to see is, like the film which inspired this list, connected to the warrior poets of melody. The likes of music based films such as The Wall or Yellow Submarine have been omitted for the sake of originality, so don’t expect Elvis or The Beatles to pop up. Oh and don’t worry, I didn’t pick Pretty Woman or My Girl.
Song by: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Film by: Eli Roth
Ones about a tortured sailor love struck and stranded at sea. The other is about kung-fu fighting hillbillies, a flesh eating virus and that kid from Boy Meets World…no not Ben Savage, the other guy. I’m sure Lord Master of Mizz-ogg Mr Cave hasn’t even seen Roth’s brain melting gorno mould, but if he did ever get round to it I’m certain he would find poise in the inexorable misery of Roth’s story. But then again, maybe he would find it to be repugnant. Either way, Roth could definitely do with someone like Cave writing his scripts.
Song by: AC/DC
Film by: Dennis Dugan
Bon Scott and Michael Oliver may not have a lot in common, but both song and film weren’t far off each other. Scott sings of a street hoodlum, lacking in conscience and moral fibre; he tears through life and declares “with the flick of my knife, I can change your life.” Junior Healy was hardly the ‘social gangsta’ of the 90’s, but he was defiantly something of a sociopath. Bought to life by the man who is now Adam Sandler’s go to guy for sub-standard by-the-numbers comedy, Problem Child was the sort of film people only ever purchased from roadside restaurants – such as Little Chef. Unlike Scott and his brazen screeching, Dennis Dugan’s made-for-bargain-bins twaddle went on to live a long life, spawning two sequels and a TV spin-off. Junior Healy has yet to stab anyone.
Song by: Heatwave
Film by: Paul Thomas Anderson
I bet that when Rodney Temperton wrote the lyrics to Boogie Nights, he wasn’t thinking about 13-inch peckers and roller skating porn stars. But evidently, when Paul Thomas Anderson needed a name for his semi-biographic take on 70’s erotic cinema, disco dancing was exactly where his mind went. There is a connection between the disco era and a club frequent by Jack Horner and the gang – and after all, disco had its heyday in the 70’s. But generally speaking, the film would have benefitted more from a title such as ‘More Than A Foot long’ or ‘The Rise and Fall of Dirk Diggler’. ‘Boogie Nights’ just sounds, too funky.
Song by: Gary Numan
Film by: John Lasseter
Strangely enough, both share very similar themes. Numan apparently based the song around ideas of isolation and finding an environment in which one can observe and distance oneself from the modern world. Pixar’s least enjoyable outing is pretty much about the same thing. Lightening McQueen finds himself and his place in the modern world by being isolated from it. However, no matter how ‘safe’ one might feel in their car, even the most well intentioned soul searcher would find it hard not to kill Mater. After the seizure inducing sequel, Mr Numan might want to consider changing the name of his song to avoid any ill-conceived affiliation…or at least consider suing for deformation by association.
Song by: Black Sabbath
Film by: Jon Favreau
They went there. Favreau couldn’t help but juxtapose the obvious soundtrack of Ozzy Osbourne’s edgy wailing with the world’s favourite trash talking superhero. Who can blame him? Clearly, Tony Stark is neither blind nor is he some sort of mythical vengeful time traveller. But he does have an iron suit. The link is very clear, and Black Sabbath just sits snug within the rock’n’roll persona of Stark. From the hammering guitar riff to the avant-garde Dalek-style voice affirming “I am iron man”, Favreau could clearly see what we all realised…this song is bat-s**t crazy, just like Robert Downey Jr.
NOTE: No bats were actually harmed or eaten during the writing of this article. Mr Osbourne is barely able to speak properly, let alone digest the cranium of a winged mammal)
Sweet Home Alabama
Song by: Lynyrd Skynyrd
Film by: Andy Tennant
Yes, yes. The film is a terrible crime against humanity, but no one can deny the influence of its epic title track. Along with Freebird, Sweet Home Alabama is arguably the most recognised Skynyrd track. A ‘retort’ to Neil Young’s deformation of the racist backbone of the South, Ronnie Van Zant and co sang of the wonderful homeland and revel in its communal kinship. Reese Witherspoon’s Melanie is something of a self-hating Southerner, who sees her hometown of Alabama as a pit of backward hicks and dumbasses – she is the Neil Young of the piece. Josh Lucas’ Jake is the savvy bachelor with a pilot’s licence and a penchant for the ‘art’ of Mother Nature. Not everyone is the racist bigot of Neil Young’s South, but there are quite a few questionable life choices – like bringing “a baby!…in a bar!?”
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Song by: The Rolling Stone
Film by: Penny Marshall
Mick J’s quasi-religious ramblings are the deflations of a band coming away from ‘acidity’ into more relaxed song writing. Whereas Whoopi is some sort of cyber bank clerk with a keen ear for music, who gets embroiled in espionage with a spy who clearly has great taste in music. How a film goes from being called “Knock Knock” (its working title) to riffing on the name of a popular Stones single is anybody’s guess. The links seem very contrived, and one assumes that any song could be substituted for JJF…but at least they manage to work the actual song into the film, twice. The film bombed upon release. Apparently it wasn’t the gas, gas, gas director Penny Marshall had expected.
Song by: Bruce Springsteen
Film by: Terrance Malick
‘The Boss’ released this as his second single. Telling the story of a man not happy with his lot in life, Badlands remains one of Springsteen’s personal favourites. Terrance Malick made his iconic film a full four years before the songs release, so who knows what inspiration was exchanged there. But in terms of connectives…well there aren’t any really. Malick’s aesthetically effervescent blood soaked road movie has more in common with The Boomtown Rats’ ‘I don’t like Mondays’, except of course, that Malick went on to have a career.
Song by: David Bowie
Film by: John Carpenter
If ever an actor was suited to the otherworldly connotations of a Bowie song, it’s Jeff Bridges. The decidedly transcendent icon plays the lead role of an alien, brought to Earth by promises of peace – only to be shot down and hounded by the US government. Bowie’s timeless signature track comes from his Ziggy Stardust space opera, and is more focused on the harmless nature of extraterrestrial/celestial messages, than the Earthbound journeys of an actual alien. However distant the two projects, one cannot help but notice the irony in a gold record being the cause of Starman’s journey to Earth, and radio being the medium of communication for the Starman of Bowie’s track – even if, film and song are separated by a chasm of 12 years: thus making it less of an irony and more of a predetermined association.
Stand By Me
Song by: Ben. E. King
Film by: Rob Reiner
Was there ever any doubt this would make the list? A song that carries the bittersweet tones of King’s love struck libretto, and a film that plays the heartstrings like an acoustic supplement. There may be the smallest of links between lyric and theme (friendship abides the hardest of strife), but no one can deny the powerful marriage that Stephen King’s coming-of-age tale shares with Ben. E’s classic song. Take one away from the other and you are left with “well made” and “lovely”. Put them together and you get an experience, a sentient richness that it is so lasting that is best describe as…an emotion.
Being the lovely chap that i am. I’ve been created and embedded below a playlist of all the songs in this list…because i know you’ll fancy giving them a listen. You’re welcome.