Download: The Inherent Vice Soundtrack

Inherent Vice posterThis past week, the trailer for Inherent Vice — the first film Thomas Pynchon has ever allowed to be adapted from one of his books, hit the internet.

If you know me, you’ll know to expect a trailer analysis. And that is indeed coming. While I work on it, though, I thought I’d throw you a little curio: the complete Inherent Vice soundtrack!

…okay, it’s the soundtrack of the book, not the film. But, so what? It’s Inherent Vice, and I spent a lot of time a few years ago putting this together for my own enjoyment. I might as well spread it ’round.

This was my second attempt at compiling a comprehensive playlist of all songs directly mentioned in a Thomas Pynchon novel, but unlike my experience with Vineland, I’ve actually managed to finish this one.

Below is every song mentioned by name (or quoted by lyric) in Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. It was a lot of work on my part (and on the part of a helpful friend or two), but man was it worth it. Many of these are songs I never would have listened to otherwise, and all of them do an excellent job of setting their respective scenes, and I hope the film can measure up to this standard.

Many thanks go to the (sadly incomplete and periodically inaccurate) song list at the Pynchon Wiki. It missed out some very obvious ones, in my opinion, but that’s neither here nor there. This was still a helpful resource.

Also, Pynchon himself has compiled a playlist of songs featured in the book at It’s far from complete, though, and it contains a few of the fictional songs he wrote himself, so I think this would be more of his personal — and impossible — mixed CD than anything else.

Oddly enough, Pynchon lists “Telstar” by The Tornados, even though it’s not mentioned anywhere in Inherent Vice (and since it’s an instrumental, I’m sure nobody quoted it either).

My guess is that he just really likes the song and thinks it’d fit somewhere in the background of one of many conversations. I’m cool with that; the song is a pretty awesome rocker, and I stuck it at the end of my playlist. Do with it as you please.

Anyway, enough of that. Enjoy the complete literary soundtrack. Maybe eventually I’ll get the Vineland one done, too. (The Crying of Lot 49 is another possibility, but I have a feeling it’d be very short…more of an EP. And I’ll take notes on music references in Bleeding Edge when I finally get around to a re-read.)

Download the Inherent Vice soundtrack:

1) Can’t Buy Me Love — The Beatles
2) Sugar Sugar — The Archies
3) Runaround Sue — Dion & The Belmonts
4) The Big Valley theme — TV Theme
5) The Great Pretender — The Platters
6) “Bang Bang” (My Baby Shot Me Down) — Bonzo Dog Band
7) Strangers in the Night — Frank Sinatra
8) Oh Pretty Woman — Roy Orbison
9) Wouldn’t It Be Nice — The Beach Boys
10) Fly Me to the Moon — Frank Sinatra
11) The Crystal Ship — The Doors
12) Blueberry Hill — Fats Domino
13) Little GTO — Ronny and the Daytonas
14) People Are Strange — The Doors
15) Gilligan’s Island theme — TV Theme
16) Basketball Jones — Cheech & Chong
17) Wipeout — The Surfaris
18) The Other Side — Tiny Tim
19) Pipeline — The Chantays
20) Surfin’ Bird — The Trashmen
21) Bam-Boo — Johnny and the Hurricanes
22) Tequila — The Champs
23) Leaning on a Lamp Post — George Formby
24) Leaning on a Lamp Post — Herman’s Hermits
25) Donna Lee — Miles Davis
26) Here Come the Hodads — The Marketts
27) Eight Miles High — The Byrds
28) Runaway — Del Shannon
29) Happy Trails to You — Roy Rogers
30) White Rabbit — Jefferson Airplane
31) This Guy’s in Love With You — Herb Alpert
32) Desafinado — Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz
33) It Never Entered My Mind — Miles Davis
34) Alone Together — Chet Baker
35) Samba do Avaio — Antonio Carlos Jobim
36) Crimson and Clover — Tommy James and the Shondells
37) Quentin’s Theme (Dark Shadows theme) — TV Theme
38) Something Happened to Me Yesterday — The Rolling Stones
39) Grande Valse Brillante — Frederic Chopin
40) There’s No Business Like Show Business — Ethel Merman
41) One Fine Day — The Chiffons
42) Wabash Cannon Ball — Roy Acuff
43) Wunderbar — Jo Stafford and Gordon Macrae
44) Haunted Heart — Sammy Kershaw
45) Viva Las Vegas — Elvis Presley
46) El Paso — Marty Robbins
47) The Flintstones theme — TV theme
48) (You’re Not Sick) You’re Just in Love — Ethel Merman
49) Tiptoe Through the Tulips — Tiny Tim
50) Everything’s Coming Up Roses — Ethel Merman
51) All Shook Up — Elvis Presley
52) That’s Amore — Dean Martin
53) Interstellar Overdrive — Pink Floyd
54) Tears on My Pillow — Little Anthony & The Imperials
55) When Somebody Cares For You — The Mike Curb Congregation
56) Que Sera Sera — Doris Day
57) Elusive Butterfly — Bob Lind
58) Yummy Yummy Yummy — Ohio Express
59) Hawaii Five-0 theme — TV Theme
60) Something in the Air — Thunderclap Newman
61) We Should Be Together — Shirley Temple and George Murphy
62) Help Me, Rhonda — The Beach Boys
63) Volare — Domenico Modugno
64) Java Jive — The Ink Spots
65) Super Market — Fapardokly
66) A Stranger in Love — The Spaniels
67) God Only Knows — The Beach Boys
68) Telstar — The Tornados

Slave to the Traffic Light

“Slave to the Traffic Light” is not quite an instrumental…though I think it qualifies as an honorary one. It’s a song that varies in length but usually clocks in at around ten minutes or so. The lyrics, such as they are, are dealt with in what feels like about twenty seconds. It’s a song about the experience of listening to it. Of floating away on it. Of letting it remind you of where you were. When you were. How you were.

You were.

Driving down to Florida from New Jersey. Two or three hours into the journey. I was already gone. I was never going home. Not that home. I had burned as much music as I could for the ride, and it was hidden away on a Phish mix somebody posted. It was a live version of “Slave to the Traffic Light,” and I couldn’t tell you know what show it was from, where he found it, why he included that one over the literally hundreds of others. But it was gorgeous. The sky was flat, expansive black. My windows were down. There were white lights on tall poles far off in the distance, and then, as the song swelled, around me. One of those very rare moments that I could actually feel my life changing.

Outside, after Hurricane Wilma. A house with no electricity. Trucks had stopped by several times that day, offering bags and blocks of ice to keep our food from spoiling. I waved them on. I was sure families needed it more. At night it sweltered. I took a pillow and a blanket and I laid outside. Everything was so quiet and still. I kept my eyes open. I stared up at the stars. “Slave to the Traffic Light” came on my iPod. It traced the stars with me. Reminded me of how much there was out there to see. For what should have been a night of inconvenience, it’s one of the most relaxing things I can remember.

Shoveling snow in New Jersey. My long, long driveway. My father and brother inside. They weren’t very interested in clearing any of it away. They enjoyed the downtime. Snow was an excuse to not do anything. But I had to be at work the next day, and I knew that if I let the snow freeze overnight, trying to force my car onto the road was going to be an exercise in layered frustration. So I shoveled. Alone. I brought out a small stereo. I played a show from Binghamton in 1995. This song came on toward the end. I remember the shovelfuls of snow breaking apart in the air, in the sunlight, in the glimmers of the fading afternoon to the twinkling of Page McConnell’s gentle keys.

Driving in Montreal, where all of the street signs were in French. A friend I wouldn’t see many times more was sleeping in the passenger seat. This song almost always seems to play at night. The stars are in her eyelashes, and to this day I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a face so vulnerable and at peace. When she was awake we’d listen to Pink Floyd, and I’d hear songs of theirs I never knew existed. While she slept I’d listen to Phish, and fall in love with being alive in the way that you only can at night, in an unfamiliar city, dead tired, with somebody dreaming at your shoulder.

An ex-girlfriend. One I would eventually be afraid I had lost forever. But I didn’t. She was stronger than that. She was stronger than I was. She called me from work. She’d just listened to a version of “Slave to the Traffic Light” from 1998 that I’d posted online. She wanted to tell me how beautiful it was. She wanted to tell me that she couldn’t stop listening to it. One thing I’ve learned in my life is that you can’t count on having overlap with others in terms of the music that moves you. When you find it, make a point of cherishing it.

Sitting around a campfire in Coventry, Vermont. The night of Phish’s final concert. Or so we, and they, believed at the time. We were at a campsite, with some fellow travelers who were also refused admission…despite having purchased tickets. Mutual tragedy brought us together. We listened to the band’s farewell show on somebody’s car stereo, while we watched the fire slowly die out. Not counting the encore, Phish ended their last concert with a low-key but elegant “Slave to the Traffic Light.” It was the perfect soundtrack to a dying flame, and the temporary intersection of lives that would not meet again.

I think I like instrumentals so much because they’re absorbent. They tend to collect the memories that happen around them.

“Slave to the Traffic Light” is a song of triumph. At least, it is to me. A song of swirling, circular triumph…and memories of things past, and people who exist only in my past.

I like music that doesn’t need lyrics.

Years ago I was bored by it. I wondered why it didn’t have any lyrics. I think I even wondered if maybe you were expected to invent your own lyrics.

Now I realize it’s just music to live your life to.

Music to help you feel the way you’re supposed to feel when you’re living the life you’re supposed to be living.

I like music that doesn’t need lyrics.

I love music that doesn’t have need lyrics.

Phish, Slave to the Traffic Light

Xmas Treat: The Pac-Man Christmas Album

The Pac-Man Christmas Album

Happy Xmas, everyone! I hope you don’t mind that I’m giving you your gift early…

Yes, this was real. No, this is not a hilarious joke. (Though, truth be told, it is pretty hilarious.)

In 1980, the Pac-Man Christmas Album was released, and thanks to friend of the website Ed Adams, I’ve got a digital version of the original, long out of print LP for your downloading and listening pleasure.

Grab The Pac-Man Christmas Album here.

The interesting thing about this, to me, is that Pac-Man — while undoubtedly iconic — doesn’t really have a distinct personality, or roster of rich characters. An in-character album of new Christmas tunes and covers of old classics seems crazy to me, since Pac-Man can sound like anything and say anything because we have no idea who Pac-Man is.

It’s not like a Super Mario Christmas album or something…which I’m sure would be just as awful, but would at least have had some vaguely-defined characters upon which to base its conceit. Here it’s just a yellow circle singing about Jesus with his family of yellow circles. That’s distilled insanity right there.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy. Actually, no I don’t. “Under the Tree” is a masterpiece, though. Who would have thought Pac-Baby would have such potential as a lyricist? And it’s worth listening to simply because it climaxes with the ghosts feeling the Christmas spirit for the first time, and apparently orgasming loudly.

God bless us, every one.

The Pac-Man Christmas Album
1) The Magic of Christmas
2) Snowflakes and Frozen Lakes
3) Under the Tree
4) Dialogue 1
5) Deck the Halls
6) An Old Fashioned Christmas
7) Dialogue 2
8) Some Days Are More Important
9) Dialogue 3
10) Friends Again
11) We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Never before has 25 minutes felt like such a long, lonely lifetime.

Music For Air Hostesses

Music For Air Hostesses

Just a little something in celebration of my completing Detective Fiction. It’s currently in the hands of a small army of very capable proofreaders / critics / curmudgeons, and if all goes well I’ll be soliciting agents before very long.

Download Music For Air Hostesses.

It’s as good as reading the book. Or maybe better.

…but hopefully not too much better.

Anyway, grab it now. It might be gone when you wish you had it.

1) I’ll Come Running — Brian Eno
2) I Can Help — Billy Swan
3) Reminiscing — Little River Band
4) Hold On, I’m Comin’ — Sam & Dave
5) Tighter, Tighter — Alive ‘N Kickin’
6) Lemon Tree — Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass
7) I Second That Emotion — Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
8) The Same Love That Made Me Laugh — Bill Withers
9) Expressway to Your Heart — Soul Survivors
10) Tusk — Fleetwood Mac
11) Save It For Later — The Beat
12) Rubberband Man — The Spinners
13) Fire — The Pointer Sisters
14) Time Passes Slowly — Bob Dylan
15) Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) — The Temptations

16) San Franciscan Nights — Eric Burden & The Animals
17) Tempted — Squeeze
18) Drive-In Saturday — David Bowie
19) A Million Miles Away — David Byrne
20) Bring It On Home to Me — Billy Preston
21) Sloop John B — The Beach Boys
22) No No Song — Ringo Starr
23) The Moonbeam Song — Harry Nilsson
24) It Just Might Be a One-Shot Deal — Frank Zappa
25) When the Night — Paul McCartney & Wings
26) Moonlight Mile — The Rolling Stones
27) Someday We’ll Be Together — Diana Ross & The Supremes
28) Someday Never Comes — Creedence Clearwater Revival
29) Everything Merges With the Night — Brian Eno
30) The Only Living Boy in New York — Simon and Garfunkel

Paul Simon’s Impact on Language

Paul Simon

I’ve written about this before (on a different blog; don’t bother looking for it…it’s not there anymore) but I’m still kind of intrigued by the question: is there any other individual musician who has had as large an impact on the way we speak and express ourselves verbally as Paul Simon?

It sounds hyperbolic, I know, but what I’m referring to are the specific turns of phrase he’s injected into our every day speech…little verbal flourishes that meant little or absolutely nothing before he gave them meaning, and gave them to us.

Just look at this list of song titles (just the titles, mind you) and ask yourself how many times you’ve seen exactly these, or some very close variation somewhere, used in a headline, a caption, an anecdote, or anything else:

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
Feelin’ Groovy
Bridge Over Troubled Water
The Sound of Silence
Loves Me Like a Rock
Homeward Bound
Something So Right
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
Slip Slidin’ Away
A Hazy Shade of Winter
I Am a Rock
Mother and Child Reunion
Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard
Still Crazy After All These Years
You Can Call Me Al
Somewhere They Can’t Find Me
The Only Living Boy in New York

That’s a lot. And I’m not sure any other single musician or lyricist can chalk up that much influence on the cultural vernacular. I’ll even let you combine all four Beatles…I still don’t think we get a list of anywhere near that length.

No deep, probing observations here…just something I thought was interesting. And by all means, please do give me other examples in the comments of musicians I’m obviously overlooking.

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