His career launched like a Bottle Rocket. Then it was back to back hits, with Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums (my favorite). And with The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson is back to being one of most consistent directors. And while his film catalog may be understandably imperfect, the one constant in all of his films is an amazing soundtrack. I recently rewatched The Royal Tenenbaums and realized that you could DJ an entire pre-ceremony and ceremony using just that movie’s score and music. So I have whittled down to my 10 favorite Wes Anderson Soundtrack Songs (sorry Nico).
- Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard : Paul Simon - This is probably one of my most played songs during cocktail hour or outdoor social gatherings. It’s fun, carefree and timeless. Though, if I’m not mistaken, it’s about a boy getting sent to jail or detention by his parents. Anyway, I love this song. And it’s used expertly in Tenenbaums when Gene Hackman steals his grandkids away for a dangerous fun day without cranky dad, Ben Stiller.
- Strangers : The Kinks - Just a reminder that these songs are in no particular order. It’s hard enough to choose ten, let alone rank them. Strangers was featured in The Darjeeling Limited, the most Kinks heavy soundtrack, but my least favorite Wes Anderson movie.
- Oh Yoko! : John Lennon - Another cocktail and dinner staple, this is the first representative from the Rushmore soundtrack. Just like the movie, it’s upbeat, lovely and light as a feather. Which reminds me, I need to revisit Rushmore.
- The Wind : Cat Stevens – Also from Rushmore. And not that I want you to soundtrack your entire wedding with Wes Anderson songs, but this one works for Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances. It’s under two minutes, beautiful and the words are right. “I let my music take me where my heart wants to go”.
- Fly : Nick Drake - A sweet song from a sadly tormented artist, Fly was featured in the Royal Tenenbaums. Nick Drake is one of my favorite artists to play during an evening dinner but this song belongs firmly in ceremony. Or just in your headphones. Drake overdosed at the age of 26, and his songs were only widely appreciated after he was gone. It amazes me how artists wracked with depression always seem to make such gorgeous music.
- Ooh La La : The Faces – The title track to their last studio album, it’s yet another song from Rushmore. A great diddy for dinner or cocktail hour. I’m beginning to sound like a broken record but seriously, it’s amazing how many songs found on Anderson soundtracks perfectly suited for events.
- Rebel Rebel : Seu Jorge - This cover of the David Bowie classic is the only representative from The Life Aquatic film. The movie was bad and the only thing that really resonated with me were Jorge’s Bowie reinterpretations. And for good reason. He manages to capture the spirit of the originals and bring them down to earth in a way that redefines them. Or something like that.
- Street Fighting Man : The Rolling Stones - The Fantastic Mr. Fox! Not to name drop here but I was luckily enough to meet George once at his home and I got to see one of the foxes they used in the movie. GC was such a nice, easygoing dude, that I was more starstruck by the Fox. I loved this movie and it made me hear this Stones staple in a whole new way. Needless to say, it rocks.
- Long Gone Lonesome Blues : Hank Williams - From the Moonrise Kingdom motion picture, this track hits me right in the midwest. You can take the boy out of Illionis…
- Everyone : Van Morrison - It’s only fitting to close out the list with the closing song of my favorite Wes Anderson picture, The Royal Tenenbaums. Though it plays after a (spoiler!) funeral, it’s so uplifting you can help but smile. And Van’s the man. Apparently (read: according to Wikipedia) he said “Everyone is just a song of hope”.