The Rushmore Soundtrack

2/4/14— On an Amtrak Acela from Washington to New York: Who doesn’t love this album? Soundtracks for me, prior to this age, were the albums that featured new anthems from artists I already loved. Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road”? Boomerang Soundtrack. “Big Empty” by Stone Temple Pilots? Soundtrack to The Crow. But Rushmore— both the movie and the album— hit me at a funny point in my life. I had just begun looking back in time for new music instead of to the bleeding edge of the present. And lo, then this Wes Anderson character provides a detailed treasure map to some buried secrets in the past. In later years I was often a little embarrassed to have first discovered a song through a movie soundtrack, but Rushmore fell into a time in which I could just enjoy this mixtape from the Wes Anderson library with wild abandon and toe-tapping enthusiasm.

Upon a listen: This soundtrack is so good that it is wholly distinct in my memory from the movie itself. The scenes don’t roll by with the songs. (I can still visualize the 3-4 shots in the The Crow when they played “Big Empty” out the window of a passing car.) The songs themselves are experiences in my younger years, they bring with them an entirely different emotional feeling than just the film itself.

And the truth is that even today, I couldn’t dig the right songs out of my own figurative crates to piece together a soundtrack this good. My heart soars with “Making Time.” This song from The Who: “A Quick One While He’s Away” is so good! A little mini-epic. This song (and really this whole album) makes me want to disappear for a year into the English Invasion. “You are forgiven! You are forgiven! You are forgiven!” An enthusiastic orgy of insistent drums and full-throated guitars.

I forgot the two jazz standards! “Blinuet” and “Rue St Vincent.” They’re so distinct from the rest of the album, but yet both wore deep, deep grooves into my memory. Every note seems a familiar caress. I think with each of these individual tracks, I would either “repeat one” or steal them away from the soundtrack into mixed playlists with a different temperament.

And the album ends just perfectly. “Oh Yoko”, of course. This song is stitched through the lives of just about every person I know my age and this one album is the reason why. We all knew John Lennon, we all knew “Imagine”, but this song, this song was a special gift from Wes Anderson to us. Lying in our Sunday morning beds with girlfriends and boyfriends talking about all the things the future could turn out to be. And then the very next weekend we’re all slow-dancing to “Ooh La La” at a house party. More than any of the songs on this album, these two were fully disaggregated from the collection and claimed their own totemic places in the hearts and iTunes favorites of the kids. For the kids!

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