The moment the guitar on Dick Dale’s “Misirlou” struck on the soundtrack of “Pulp Fiction” and those giant titles slowly, methodically crawl up the screen, we knew we were in the hands of a master. And indeed, Quentin Tarantino had already established a unique ear for the songscape of his work two years prior in “Reservoir Dogs.”
How about the fact that no one will ever use The Meters’ “Cissy Strut” better than he did in “Jackie Brown?” Or how effectively the march of Ennio Morricone’s “Rabbia E Tarantella” closes out “Inglourious Basterds?” What about Elle Driver’s eerie whistling of Bernard Herrmann’s “Twisted Nerve” theme in “Kill Bill” Vol. 2?”
The director’s latest, “Django Unchained,” takes a whole other step forward, adding four original songs to the usual mix of source music. Elayna Boynton and Anthony Hamilton’s “Freedom” gets us going early on while the Morricone-penned “Ancora Qui” slows us down later.
And yet, none of these made our list of the director’s “Greatest Hits” to date, showing just how expansive his work infusing music to image has been.
Two years ago the Broadcast Film Critics Association inaugurated its Music + Film Award by handing it over to Tarantino (even before Martin Scorsese, who received it the very next year). And it was a great choice, as the gallery below reflects. Separating the man from the tunes is virtually impossible, as hearing any number of the tracks he’s used in his films inevitably conjures memories of those scenes.
Katie Hasty and I (check her out over at HitFix’s Immaculate Noise blog) put our heads together and came up with 16 tracks that stuck out to us for inclusion on a compilation album, if, you know, we were toiling away on such a thing. But as noted above, so many wonderful songs are inevitably going to be left off when you cook up a list like this, so click through ours below and feel free to offer up your thoughts and/or your own picks in the comments section below.
“Django Unchained” opens everywhere December 25.