Monday, March 08, 2010

Musical musings: Watchmen

No knitting content today, but if all goes well I'll have an FO in the coming days!

I just thought I'd share some musings I've had, since ultimately that's what blogs are for. This post is link and video heavy, just to warn you.

I received the soundtrack to Watchmen for my birthday, and I've been listening to it a lot. I don't often find that movie music sticks with me after I watch the film (any score by John Williams is an obvious, if cliche, exception). But when I saw this film, one of the things that struck me was how awesome the soundtrack was--there were many songs I was already familiar with that struck me as completely appropriate for the given scene but mostly for the bleak atmosphere of the film in general. I love that there are three Bob Dylan songs in the official soundtrack, for example, even if two of them are covers. I have no quarrel with Jimi Hendrix's cover of All Along the Watchtower - brilliant. But I sort of wish Desolation Row was the original, rather than a cover by My Chemical Romance. (As a side note, every time I listen to it at a certain point I think my microwave is dinging. But no, it's a guitar. Gets me every time. Anyway). Upon listening to the official soundtrack, however, I noticed that many of the songs I remember from the film aren't on the CD, and I wondered how they chose the 12 that were included.

Then I started thinking about the songs that weren't in the movie, but maybe should have been. It occurred to me that a soundtrack made up of Leonard Cohen songs only would have been quite convincing. There were a few Cohen songs in the movie, but only Hallelujah made it to the CD. (I love Hallelujah, although it's definitely overdone - kd lang's version is awesome, but a bizarre choice for the Olympic opening ceremonies in my opinion...)

Anyway, in the name of procrastination, here's my version of the Watchmen soundtrack with Leonard Cohen songs only.

Note: the following may contain spoilers for Watchmen! You have been warned.

First We Take Manhattan
(Embedding is disabled for the official video on Youtube, but the video is kind of cool in a hilarious 1980s way, so check it out! Lots of people with suitcases on the beach.)
This one is cheating. It was in the movie during the credits, but I think it deserves a more prominent role in the film. It's so brooding. And 1980s. I know, the song itself only came out in 1987 while the film is set in 1985, but whatever. That's no concern of mine.


Maybe this goes without saying. The refrain is "Democracy is coming to the USA," and it's ironically hopeful tone adds to the delightful satire. I think it fits the mood and storyline of the film, since most of the action concerns the Cold War and America's own democratic posturing goes right along with that.

Closing Time
Embedding disabled, but this video cracks me up. Ah, backup singers.
While this doesn't come through quite as well in the film, the gritty, grimy, drugged out, and depressed condition of people New York in the graphic novel is clear and pronounced. It reminds me of this song, in some ways, although the song is kind of cheerful about it all. The way love happens in this movie is kind of desperate like this song.

A Thousand Kisses Deep

I think this is a more appropriate song for the sex scene than Hallelujah was, but maybe it's too bleak and depressing.

Alexandra Leaving
Video may not be safe for work since it includes nudes and partial nudes
When Laurie leaves Jon. That's a very literal application of this song, but I think it works, especially because of the line "As someone long prepared for this to happen..." since Dr. Manhattan sees time all at once.

I'm Your Man

Okay, so admittedly the first reason I picked this song is the line "If you want another kind of love / I'll wear a mask for you." Literally and figuratively, since there's a character who at one point *ahem* finds himself impotent (literally) until he dresses up in his superhero costume and has an adventure. A preoccupation with masks and how they affect identity is important to the whole story, though perhaps moreso in the graphic novel than in the movie.


Anthem also has a hopeful tone, but I'm not sure if it's ironic or not. "The birds they sang at the break of day / Start again, I heard them say" fits well with the ending of the film.

The Great Event

I think this is one of Cohen's most bizarre songs, although Dear Heather is pretty bizarre. Recited by a computerized voice, it declares that some Great Event is imminent "which will end the horror / which will end the sorrow." Hello, Veidt Enterprises!

That was longer than I'd intended, but I'll stop before I think of more songs to add. There are so many; it helps that most of Leonard Cohen's repertoire is bleak and depressing to begin with. Ack, just thought of The Future, and Everybody Knows. So good...

1 comment:

  1. Funny story: Dave and I went to the Watchmen joking about how we should bring an iPod and make our own soundtrack (we often sync music up to Youtube videos) and it ended up being unnecessary. The thing about the Watchment soundtrack is while not exactly syncing up mood of the music, it syncs lyrics to what's happening on screen, forcing you to pay attention to the soundtrack.