As I’ve mentioned before, I have soundtracks or at least soundtracks in progress for most of my more serious relationships of the past (and of course my present and future one). Though I have a rule about only allowing one song per artist for each soundtrack, it’s interesting how some articles appear on a lot of soundtracks and some (that I really like) appear on practically none.

On the five major soundtracks (One for Tracey, one for Julie, two for Evangeline, and one for Clancy), They Might Be Giants is the only one to have a song on every single CD. Further, each of the old flames that warrants their own CD or two actually has two songs that are strongly in the running and the most likely result is that I’ll find a technicality (perhaps find a cover version of one of the songs) that’ll allow me to put both on.

If you’re interested, here are the songs in question:
Tracey: “She’s an Angel” will definitely be on there. I’d like to fit in “Don’t Let’s Start”.
Julie: “Narrow Your Eyes” will definitely be on there. I’d like to fit in “Another First Kiss”.
Evangeline: “Piece of Dirt” is on the first CD, “Road Movie To Berlin” is on the second.
Clancy: “Ana Ng” is on the CD, as is TMBG member John Linnell’s “Utah”.

What’s odd about TMBG’s frequent appearances on the soundtracks is that unlike a lot of bands TMBG doesn’t specialize on relationship songs. A band like Matchbox Twenty or Counting Crows would be something more expected, but not so much TMBG or the artist with the second most appearances, Ben Folds (though Folds does a lot more relationship stuff than TMBG).

I guess the main reason for it is that TMBG writes songs that range from metaphorical to nonsensical, so it’s really easy to apply the song to your specific experiences whether they were meant to apply or not. Compare that to a Maroon 5 song which gives you a specific relationship circumstance where if your situation is different from theirs in even minor ways it makes it less likely that the song will appear on the soundtrack.

One example of the vagueness of TMBG helping it gain a slot on the soundtrack is Road Movie to Berlin, which isn’t even a love song, really. It’s about the problematic making of a movie or alternately about the failure of Nazi Germany to achieve their goals, depending on how you hear it. But it can also be about having a lofty goal and coming up short, which described the ultimate crumbling of the relationship with Eva perfectly. The key lyrics:

“We were once so close to heaven,
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest
of the damned.”

So close to perfection, but damned anyway. Fits perfectly. The other TMBG songs are slightly more relationship-oriented than that one, but they use light and strange imagery to make their point rather than outlining how it all works. For instance, the characters may talk of building a time machine to go back and meet each other again so that their tired relationship can become new. A sad love song from a child’s point of view might represent that the narrator is not ready for the adult relationship that he has the opportunity for.

Sarah Vowell made the observation in the TMBG documentary that the band manages to take really sad lyrics and yet make the songs sound happy and catchy. The example she used was from Don’t Let’s Start wherein Linnell sings “Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful”. That lyric could come across as ridiculously melodramatic… except that the way it’s sung disarms any impulse you have towards dismissing it for being overly sentimental. It provides enough sugar for what is often a bitter, bitter pill to go down. And for my soundtracks, it provides an upbeat tempo to balance out some of the slower, sadder songs that often come before or after it.


Category: Theater

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2 Responses to The Might Be Good For Soundtracks

  1. Abel says:

    As I’ve mentioned before, I have soundtracks or at least soundtracks in progress for most of my more serious relationships of the past (and of course my present and future one).

    So you’re looking to have a future relationship with someone other than Clancy? 🙂

  2. trumwill says:

    Haha present and future was meant to represent a single relationship 🙂

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