We Love… Soundtracks – Dazed and Confused

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Who hasn’t run up steps without Bill Conti’s classic ode to trying hard, the Rocky Theme ‘Gonna Fly Now’, soaring through their head, or spun around at the top of a hill belting out Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s soaring blue sky-classic ‘The Hills are Alive’…

Can you go for a swim in the sea without hearing ‘duh-nuh… duh-nuh… duh-nuh… duh-nuh, duh-nuh, duh-nuh, duh-nuh’ – John Williams’ creepingly stubborn build of bass notes –  or take a shower unaccompanied by Bernard Herrmann’s stabbing shrieks of a slashing violin clashing against the steam.

Then welcome, welcome to the latest We Love…  as, over the next few weeks, our collection of movie-loving muzos put on their tight-white trousers and flowing dresses and profess their love for music in film in:

 

We Love…

Soundtracks

 

Dazed and Confused

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‘… the soundtrack is a focal point of the film and plays a central role in the story telling of the film…’

Ailbhe O’ Reilly

Dazed and Confused, the 1993 cult classic, opens with ‘Sweet Emotion‘ by Aerosmith. We are introduced to the high-school students who inhabit this film through the very 1970s sound of Aerosmith. From the beginning of Dazed and Confused the soundtrack is a focal point of the film and plays a central role in the story telling of the film.

The plot of this cult classic, if you are not familiar with it, is simple enough. It is the last day of school in a Texas high school in 1976 and the incoming seniors are preparing to haze the incoming freshman students. The film follows several groups of friends as they drive around town, drink, do drugs and listen to music culminating in a party at the moon tower. The plot is laid back and simple with no major drama or resolution. Richard Linklater felt his film was a more realistic representation of teenage life than some more melodramatic plots in teenage films. It focuses simply on teenagers trying to have fun, be cool and fit in.  Dazed and Confused is fun, funny and above all cool – which is why it become a cult classic.

The soundtrack is one of the main reasons that the film comes together so well and it is used with great effect to set the tone, move the plot along and above all root the film firmly in 1976 Texas – even the title comes from a Led Zeppelin song. Along with Aerosmith, Dazed and Confused makes great use of ‘Free Ride’ by The Edgar Winter Group, ‘Summer Breeze‘ by Seals & Crofts, ‘Low Rider‘ by War and ‘Do You Feel Like We Do‘ by Peter Frampton to set this unique tone of 1976’s Texas throughout the film, so even Irish teenagers in the ’90s could relate to it. The film seems to pause at various times as there is a scene where music is playing the main role. An example of this is when Matthew McConaughey’s character (in his first role) walks through the pool hall with Bob Dylan’s ‘The Hurricane’ blasting out as he smoothly walks across the room. As the boys cruise around town mindlessly breaking trash cans, ZZ Top guides them on their way.

The film has a rake of stars in their early years such as Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Adam Goldberg, Cole Hauser, Parker Posey and the aforementioned Matthew McConaughey in a stellar role as the older guy who is a bit old for a high school party. The film ends as a few of the main characters drive to get Aerosmith tickets – “top priority of the summer” as Jason London’s character puts it. We see them chilled out in the car as ‘Slow Ride‘ by Foghat plays out – a perfect ending to an appropriate and fantastic soundtrack. There is no doubt that Dazed and Confused’s soundtrack strongly contributes to Dazed and Confused’s cult classic status and will always be a favourite of mine.

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