6 Songs That Evoke Movie Scenes

Hannibal Lecter was more of a classical guy than a rock guy.
Hannibal Lecter was more of a classical guy than a rock guy.

Steve Wiley is Up on the Sun's resident Record Store Geek. Biweekly, he shares stories of great music and whacky characters from his continuing 27 years in Valley record stores and the always-zany music biz.

When you are a music geek like I am, you are constantly aware of the music that's playing.

At a restaurant. At the bar. At the game. At anything.

I especially hear it during movies. So I often end up linking certain songs and certain movie scenes. It's just the way I do it.

You too? Maybe you can relate to this little ditty.

Wait a Minute, Aren't You the Record Store Geek?

Yes, my primary thing is music, but every record store I've been a part of has sold and/or rented movies as well as music, so my "expertise" includes movies too.

I love 'em both, dammit.

So let's get on with it.

Six Songs That Evoke Movie Scenes

Normally, this is the place where I explain the "list rules." Not today. I'm feeling rowdy.

I do want to take the opportunity to say that I LOVE Youtube. It's just a shy of my imagination when it comes to calling up what I want, and I found all but one of these scenes (not all of which are obvious).


Movie: Silence of the Lambs Song: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers "American Girl"

This scene is one of my favorites in a sea of amazing scenes in one of the all-time great movies.

To start with, I love Petty. Love the song. And I love the way actress Brooke Smith gets into it. In that short snippet, she makes you like her Nashville-girl character. Cute, but hardly perfect -- and probably cool as hell. I was hooked when she doubled up with Tom and the backup singers when they sang "make it last all night" twice.

Then the brilliant cut to the night vision goggles and the wicked Buffalo Bill.

Then back to the rock classic, and my new buddy, who gets out of the car and says "Hey, Little Cheaper" to her cat, only to have her good nature get the best of her intelligence as she falls for Bill's ingenious scheme (acted supremely by Ted Levine).

Are you kidding? Don't get in the damn truck!

Bingo, the song shall be forever linked to a psycho serial killer. (Might I add that the score part of this scene is also perfect).  

Movie: Reservoir Dogs Music: Stealer's Wheel "Stuck in the Middle With You"

When I was a young pup, I listened to the mighty Casey Kasem (RIP) and his Top Forty countdown every week. I knew every stinkin' song that was on the top 40... and honestly, liked about 75 percent of them. So I was all over Steven Wright's "K-Billy's Super Sounds of the '70s" soundtrack that ran throughout Reservoir Dogs.

And I was always a huge fan of Stealer's Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle with You." What a classic song. Bouncy, raspy, cool as hell.

Then Tarantino and the sadistic, savage Michael Madsen changed it forever.

I'm not sure if it's better or worse. It's one of those scenes that you love to hate. To be honest, although I've seen the movie upwards of 20 times, I didn't watch the ear-cutting while I was dialing up the clip (although I did watch the original Stealer's Wheel video, which amused me greatly).

But I'll never hear the song without thinking of that ear ... and the dancing Mr. Blonde. Hmmm. Two songs, two psychos. Am I sensing a pattern?  

Movie: So I Married An Axe Murderer Music: Rod Stewart "You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)"

Fuck Shrek. Forget Austin Powers. Sorry Wayne. So I Married An Axe Murderer is Mike Myer's greatest role (or should I say roles), and this song anchors the funniest scene in the movie.

It starts with Myers in the dual role of his Charlie character's crazy father, dancing to The Bay City Rollers' "Saturday Night" and admiring his Scottish Wall of Fame.

Note: I could have used that song, which shall also forever be linked to the scene, but I just don't hear it enough (which is a matter of choice, mostly).

The old man dances around, harasses everyone in sight, and spouts off one great bit after the next: The control of the Pentavaret. "Float away ya wee faerie." Like an orange on a Toothpick. "He'll be crying himself to sleep tonight on his huge pilla."

Cracks me up.

But it's the drunken singing of Scottish Hall of Famer Rod Stewart's "You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)" that really stuck in my heard. I don't hear this song that much either, but when I do, I hear Charlie's dad singing it.

Just to give you any idea how much the two are linked in my head: I had to look up the song title because all I could think of was "You're in my Eyes."

The scene ends with Charlie's mom giving a long kiss to his buddy at the door. "Whoa, You've turned into a right sexy me-bastard." Hilarious.  

Movie: Almost Famous Music: Elton John "Tiny Dancer"

I'm not sure I want this scene to define this song, and I'm not sure why.

I really love the movie, and lord knows I love Elton's Madman Across the Water album (although not as much as Tumbleweed Connection) but it took me a while to reconcile the fact that this scene in my head every time I hear the song.

I guess it always seemed a little bit contrived. It kinda still does.

But the two are linked, forever. So I'm going with the flow.

It's a great song. And I do like the idea of a song bringing this crazy bus full of hoodlums together after a big fight and a hard night of partying.

Above all, I totally empathize with Penny Lane's assertion that the music is the place that both bands and fans (like her and I) consider "home."  

Movie: Say Anything Music: Steely Dan "Rikki Don't Lose That Number"

I bet you thought I was going to say Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes".

Give me a break, Cheese-spank. That's the cover of the movie. It couldn't get more obvious. That's why "Bohemian Rhapsody" from Wayne's World isn't on here.

Do I think of that scene when hear that song? Of course...

... for as many notes as it takes me to change whatever horrific music source is spewing it out. I hate that fuckin' song. It's the same reason I didn't include "Old Time Rock and Roll" from Risky Business (see: Nine Classics You Love That I Never Want to Hear Again).

No, the scene that I'm referring to is when John Mahoney's character is driving along in his car, high on life because his daughter just won a fellowship, singing along to "Rikki Don't Lose that Number."

But he doesn't know all of the words.

Just like you and I.

You can tell he's into it. You can tell he knows the song. He just doesn't know it all. So he's kind of mumbling his way through the song, and then just belting out the chorus.

Just like you and I.

Except I do know that song. Because Steely Dan is my all-time favorite band.

So obviously, it hit home immediately, and unlike the Almost Famous scene, I'm glad the two are linked. So glad I went against my better judgment and included the same director, Cameron Crowe, twice on a six-song list.

Record Store Geek moment: I had a chance to sit next to Crowe during a screening of Elizabethtown at a CIMS convention (see: The Greatest In-store Performance Ever), and I was able to lean over and tell him how much I loved this scene and why.


Movie: Body Heat Music: Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band "Feel Like A Number"

Why is this my final song?

My wife told me to use one of the other songs from my "master" list. She said, "No one has seen Body Heat." She said to use "You Can't Always Get What You Want" from The Big Chill, because more people are familiar with that movie (although, like the 10 Greatest Arena Rock Bands, it takes a lot of shit from elitists, I love it).

I could have easily used "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" from Pulp Fiction, but I already used a Tarantino movie, and I didn't want to double up on another director, so I couldn't do that.

So I did it my own way, and I went with this one

Because it's my job to turn you on to shit that you might not have heard or seen over the years, and you need to see Body Heat.

I'll put it up against the all-time champs for plot (so brilliant), dialogue (Hurt is terrific), and a sexy lead actress (if you've never seen it, you don't know Kathleen Turner).

And of course, this phenomenal scene by the young Mickey Rourke, which shall be forever locked to Seger's crafty song of being lost in society. The youtube clip labels it as scene-stealing. It's one of many scenes in a movie you gotta see.

... and like all the movies on this list, I think of it when I hear that certain song.

Thanks for reading.

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