Nowadays, it’s easy to expand your musical repertoire. The internet is packed with options like YouTube, last.fm, Spotify, MySpace and hundreds of other places where you can go and find new artists, new genres and spend hours exploring them. Back in my day (just after I’d finished me shift at t’mill), these options weren’t really available yet, so it took a few years before I moved beyond listening to whatever Kerrang! were telling me to listen to.
What really helped me break down those barriers and embrace all kinds of music was a series of incredible soundtracks to films that I loved in the mid-to-late 90s. Given that I’m currently gorging myself on funk and soul music, I’ll start with Jackie Brown. It’s my favourite Quentin Tarantino film and certainly my favourite movie soundtrack album, and introduced me to so much amazing music.
From the opening credits, set to Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack, onwards, Tarantino (who uses music in his films as well as anyone else you could care to mention) peppers the film and its sountrack with some of the best funk and soul music ever released. Strawberry Letter 23 by the Brothers Johnson, Natural High by Bloodstone, Street Life by Randy Crawford and, in particular, Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) by the wonderful Delfonics.
His Pulp Fiction soundtrack was almost as influential, leading me to Kool & The Gang, Al Green, Dusty Springfield and Chuck Berry as well as the joys of surf guitar. Unsurprisingly, another film from the time that introduced me to lots of great music was the adaptation of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, packed with amazing artists like The Beta Band, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, The Kinks, Velvet Underground and 13th Floor Elevators.
Another of my favourite films is The Big Lebowski, which started my affection for Bob Dylan, Captain Beefheart, Nina Simone and the Gipsy Kings, while the Coens had a similar impact with their legendary O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack, which led me to bluegrass and country music, and particularly Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris. Fairly obviously, the Magnolia soundtrack made me fall in love with Aimee Mann’s music…
Maybe I’d have found my way to all of these people in time, without the help of movies, as none of them are obscure in the slightest, but during my late teens, I feel very lucky to have so many fantastic films to watch and for the effect they had on my musical tastes.