`High Fidelity' soundtrack has rare variety
By JOE LARSON
Scene Music Critic
Have you ever tried to make a soundtrack of your life? A collection of songs that explain exactly who you are when you made it? I'm not talking about songs you like because they're funny or popular, but songs that define you. (I hope the soundtrack of your life does not contain "Barbie Girl" in German.) I mean songs that simply convey a set of particular emotions that make you remember meaningful feelings you've had during your life. I mean songs that stir you inside. I mean music that takes you over and forces you to remember those events of your life which cannot be described in just words. They are the songs that eventually become the emotions they convey.
In "High Fidelity," John Cusack's character does just that. A record store owner whose break-up with his girlfriend causes him to reevaluate his entire life, Cusack journeys to find out what is truly important to him. The movie takes place primarily in a rare records shop, which provides the perfect background for an incredibly powerful and original soundtrack. Cusack's character addresses all the people in his life with music at one time or another, and this soundtrack is his character's account of his life throughout the duration of the movie.
After the break-up, Cusack's character reverts back to his former girlfriends and tries to figure out what led them to break up with him. During his attempt to figure out his previous shortcomings, the audience is given these songs which amplify the character's pain and suffering over the loss of his girlfriend, whom he really loves. The soundtrack is amazing. Executively produced by John Cusack, D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink and Kathy Nelson, this soundtrack follows Cusack's character's plight and — ultimately — his revival. The soundtrack wonderfully conveys his true feelings throughout the course of the movie.
This soundtrack is an incredibly eclectic mix of b-sides and rare songs. It has everything from 60s rock `n' roll to a 90s hybrid of bass-backed punk. Each song has its own original personality that makes it stand out on the disc. There are great break-up songs like the Thirteenth Floor Elevators' angry "You're Gonna Miss Me," Bob Dylan's sad "Most of the Time," John Wesley Harding's defeated "I'm Wrong About Everything" and Smog's mellow "Cold Blooded Old Times."
These songs are woven between more upbeat songs like the Kinks' "Everybody's Gonna Be Happy," Royal Trux's "Inside Game" and Jack Black's cover of the Marvin Gaye classic "Let's Get It On." There are two tracks from The Velvet Underground, a brilliant group who provides a sound that can only be said to resemble an extremely sad Beatles. The three best songs on the album are "Always See Your Face" by Love, "Fallen For You" by Sheila Nicholls and "I Believe" by Stevie Wonder. "Always See Your Face" is a driven song with a beautiful accompaniment of horns reminding a lost lover that their relationship will not be forgotten. "Fallen For You" is a desperate cry of a woman trying to get the attention of her admired. It is a great story of a woman trying to figure out her unrequited love. Nicholls' voice is amazing, complemented by the piano behind her.
Quite possibly the best song on the album is "I Believe" by Stevie Wonder. A great song by Wonder, its strong lead and backing vocals force this song to stay in listeners heads for hours. It is a person's calling for real love in a world of hardship. This song seals the album and closes it on a positive note. The album takes the listener on a veritable rollercoaster of emotions as it changes from upbeat to melancholy and from classic rock `n' roll to Motown.
The "High Fidelity" soundtrack is a perfect example of an album that exemplifies emotion. It shifts its moods but it shifts in a realistic way that everyone has done before, which makes it more than listenable. It makes it utterly pleasing. Plus, it gives the listener exposure to rare songs we probably would never have heard. It saves us the time of listening to quantities of old records looking for songs to express ourselves. It may even provide us with a few songs we could use for our own musical autobiographies.
All Scene Stories for Tuesday, May 2, 2000