A poorly kept secret: My Wes Anderson mixtape

Well it’s Wes Anderson week around here at Mountains Beyond Mountains. Last week we ranked the movies (not an easy task) and told a little personal story about each one. On Friday his new movie, “Moonrise Kingdom” finally opened in our city and I was lucky enough to see it with a group of friends. Somehow, MBM’s press passes must have been lost in the mail, and we were unsuccessful in winning a pass to the Wednesday night preview. Nevertheless, at 8:10 p.m. the figurative curtain went up. Now I know members of the fanbase are dying to know where it ranks in my personal list. This is a tough one, my heart wants to stick it right at number one because I loved it so much. But I think after the dust settles it will be a solid number three behind Rushmore and Bottle Rocket, two sentimental favourites that may never be unseated. But placing it in front of “The Life Aquatic” and the others may prove controversial to some, but let the chips fall as they may. Anyway, lists are dumb, right?

Same, but different.

Being immersed in Wes Anderson’s universe for 90 minutes last night inspired me to go ahead and finish off a little side project that I’ve been working on over the past few weeks. That’s right. I’ve been secretly putting together a mixtape of songs from Wes Anderson movies to be sent out to platinum circle members of the fanbase (one disc per household).

There are many ways to approach a mix tape like this. I could have easily gone all instrumental, as Anderson has used many classical and jazz standards, as well as original work from Mark Mothersbaugh and Alexandre Desplat over the years. I could have done a CD of  all his non-english songs, creating a “world music” tape. I could have gone chronologically, starting with songs from Bottle Rocket and ending up with songs from Moonrise Kingdom. I could have chosen songs that were memorable in the scenes they were used. (In that case I would have to use Elliot Smith from Tenenbaums, yuck. Not yuck to Elliot Smith, but yuck to the scene). In the end I decided to just stick with pop songs (an earlier incarnation had the CD opening and closing with two short Mark Mothersbaugh pieces, but I thought that was kind of cutesy and took them out in the end. I do have Van Morrison’s “Everyone” (track 16) which sounds almost like it was remixed by Mark Mothersbaugh. It fits really well played over top SPOILER! Royal’s funeral. You may be interested to know that this was actually Wes Anderson’s THIRD choice for this scene. He wanted “I’m looking through you” by the Beatles but due to George Harrison’s recent death, there was tumult in the Beatles camp and the rights were not secured. This is the same reason why the original version of “Hey Jude” is not in the movie. Anderson’s second choice, “Sloop John B” by The Beach Boys was also denied. Even though it’s a third choice, I think it works really well in that scene.

My only rule was every movie had to be represented at least once but beyond that I didn’t care if one movie was more heavily represented over another. Think of this as just a mixtape a friend is giving you which happens to be made up entirely of songs from Wes Anderson movies.

Throughout the movie “High Fidelity”, the characters espouse varying and sometimes conflicting “rules” about making a mix tape.

Here’s one example of mix tape “gone wrong” from that movie:

Now I’m not expecting this tape to become a “conversation stimulator” as Jack Black’s character hopes, but I do hope that people put it on once in a while and listen to it for fun. My main concern (as with all of my mixtapes) is the flow. How is the flow? Let me know!

There are 19 tracks and I don’t think I’ll take up too much of your time talking about all of them, but I’ll mention one or two things about some of them. The disc starts out strong and then kind of takes you on a contemplative journey in the middle part and gets strong again and ends wistfully. The hope is that you’ll want to listen to it again as soon as it’s over. I burnt it last night and have played it through two or three times since then and am quite happy with it.

Regrets? I sort of wish I did include one of two instrumentals, just to give it that much more of a Wes Anderson feel. I especially like this little piece “Let me tell you about my boat” from “The Life Aquatic”. Here’s the scene in which it appears:

My wife also has two complaints. She cannot stand track 12. Seu Jorge recorded a bunch of David Bowie songs in Portuguese and some of them end up in the movie. Marla thinks having any of these songs in the middle of the disc kills the flow. At the last minute I took out “Changes” by him and the disc felt diminished. I stuck in “Rebel Rebel” instead and I think it works better. I also really like the transition from having this guy sing a David Bowie song and then BOOM! the next track is actually David Bowie singing “Life on Mars”. I think that is my favourite transition on the tape. There’s always at least one song that you want to skip over on a mixtape, and I guess this is that song for my wife. I like it though.

Her second complaint was that I didn’t include “A quick one while he’s away” by The Who. Now this is an almost a 9 minute song and it’s so crazy I don’t know how I’d ever lead up to it and I sure as heck don’t know how I’d ever get out of it, transition wise. Granted, its use in Rushmore is brilliant. Anderson uses only the last 3 minutes of the song in the movie, during the escalating revenge montage between Blume and Max. It includes a patented slo-mo bit and you can Max without shoe laces at the very end (as I mentioned in my other Wes Anderson post). It’s so great it gets an honourable mention and I’ll link it below but it didn’t make the mixtape.

A couple of surprises:

This mix tape was a poorly kept secret on my part, but I was really excited about doing it and I started talking about it with people with whom I meant it to be a surprise. But it actually worked out better because one member of the fanbase lent me her copy of the “Royal Tenenbaums” soundtrack so I could browse its listings and she even emailed me a MP3 of “Over and Done With” by The Proclaimers, a crucial song from Bottle Rocket that proudly sits at track 15. I think the disc is stronger because of these additions.

Speaking of transitions, I also love the one-two punch of “Alone Again Or” by Love and “These Days” by Nico. (tracks 7 and 8, respectively). I think “Alone Again Or” is probably my favourite song on the whole tape. I talked about its significance to me in my last post around the time Bottle Rocket came out and then I kind of forgot about the song for a little while. It was not until I was at the Arcade Fire concert back in September 2010 that my love of this song was rekindled. The opening band, Calexico, did a cover of it and I turned to the person I was with and shouted over the music with a huge grin “BOTTLE ROCKET! THIS IS FROM BOTTLE ROCKET!” as I gestured madly at the stage. I’m not sure if she understood what I was on about (it was quite loud in there) but she smiled and nodded her head as if she did. I didn’t realize at the time that Calexico was doing a cover and I thought for a while that Calexico was actually on the soundtrack, but that was wrong. On my tape, the next song is “These Days” sung by Nico. This song didn’t register with me until I had listened to the Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack a few weeks ago. The person who lent me the disc said that this is song that puts her in a Wes Anderson mood more than anything else. Those comments haunted me as I assembled the track list and in the end I decided to add it. Why the hell not? It’s grown on me and I like its placement between “Alone Again Or” and “Ruby Tuesday”. It satisfies the “flow” requirement. And I also read a cute story about this song as I was researching the mix tape. It was originally written by Jackson Browne in the 1960s and he forgot that he signed away the rights for it to be used in movies and tv. He went into the theatre to see the Royal Tenenbaums and in the scene where Margot gets off the bus he thought to himself “Hey, I used to play the guitar like that.” and lo and behold before he knew it he was listening to his own song being sung in a new and very different way!

One final thought and then you’re free to go. I wanted to wait until I saw “Moonrise Kingdom” before I included one of its songs. So last night, the song that left the biggest impression on me was “Le temps de l’amour” by Francoise Hardy. It’s played in a sweet scene between Sam and Suzy and that’s all I say about that. It appears as song 17, for those keeping track at home.

1. Me and Julio down by the school yard. Paul Simon. Royal Tenenbaums

2. Where do you go to my lovely? Peter Sarstedt. Darjeeling

3. Here comes my baby. Cat Stevens. Rushmore

4. This time tomorrow. The Kinks. Darjeeling

5. Oh Yoko. John Lennon. Rushmore

6. Concrete and clay. Unit 4+2. Rushmore

7. Alone again, or. Love. Bottle Rocket

8. These Days. Nico. Royal Tenenbaums

9. Ruby Tuesday. Rolling Stones. Royal Tenenbaums

10. Strangers. The Kinks. Darjeeling

11. Gut Feeling. Devo. The Life Aquatic

12. Rebel, Rebel. Seu Jorge. The Life Aquatic

13. Life on Mars? David Bowie. The Life Aquatic

14. Play with Fire. Rolling Stones. Darjeeling

15. Over and Done With. The Proclaimers. Bottle Rocket

16. Everyone. Van Morrison. Royal Tenenbaums

17. Le temps de l’amour. Francoise Hardy. Moonrise Kingdom

18. Street Fighting Man. Rolling Stones. The Fantastic Mr. Fox

19. Ooh la la. The Faces. Rushmore

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “A poorly kept secret: My Wes Anderson mixtape

  1. Joanna

    Well, this sounds like a bunch of fun! Got to love a solid mixed cd, especially one with a theme!

    I may have to see moonrise kingdom again and see if I change my mind. But the others will have to be re-watched first, methinks!

  2. I can’t wait to listen to this!! Thanks Trev!

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