Whether it’s cutting off someone’s ear to Stuck in the Middle With You or watching the detonation of your little capitalist world in Fight Club to the Pixies: I am sure we have all allowed the choice musical splendour of a particular climax within a film to wash over us, drowning us in guilty, delicious, vengeful wonder. I certainly have. Whatever you think about the underlying (or overt) premises of the film, surely you can’t deny the power, how cool it was, to use My Way at the end of Goodfellas? In a perversion of BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs I often wonder, when pressed to choose between my favourite tracks, which would I like to include in the film of my life for that precise sequence?
I do not mean, “James, what love song would you include for your first kiss in this hypothetical movie?” Nor do I mean, “James, which 3-minute sample of pop nonsense would you include for the closing number of this preposterous flick?”
I specifically mean: at the moment that you start to go on a violent, lead-spilling, blood-rushing, steel-flashing rampage, what is your theme tune? Or indeed, when eventually the cops kick down your door and find you swinging from the rafters, which LP will you have jauntily rolling on the record player while they stare up at you, too late to arrest you, in thwarted envy of your beautiful recent massacre? It’s a very specific question but I do think it’s an important one. Tarantino understands. So should you. With what music would you end your movie, and more interestingly, with what music would you make it unsuitable for minors?
Whether it’s painting your full metal jacket black or putting the Brazil in Brazil, let me know which numbers you’d select for your epic scene. In the meantime, I’ll reel off my own choices for when the cops discover me, a little too late: music to cry to, boogie to and cut me down to. Music for massacres, songs for suffering, anthems for my personal atrocities. Naturally I’ll be making nods to the texts which came before – this is Palimpsest, after all – so keep an eye out for pop cult refs as we go along.