Various Artists: The Big Lebowski [Original Soundtrack]

Rating: 6.0/10
Rated as
: Compilation / Soundtrack
Compilation Status
: of Zeitgeist interest
Released: 1998
Recorded: 1959–1997
Specific Genre: Soundtrack
Main Genre: Soundtrack
Undertones
: Singer-Songwriter, Folk Rock, Experimental Rock, Pop Rock, Exotica, Big Band, Vocal Jazz, Third Stream, Experimental, Romanticism, Lounge, Latin Rock, Electronic
Label: Mercury

1 Bob Dylan – The Man in Me 2 Captain Beefheart – Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles 3 Elvis Costello – My Mood Swings 4 Yma Sumac – Ataypura 5 Piero Piccioni – Traffic Boom 6 Nina Simone – I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good 7 Moondog – Stamping Ground 8 Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – I Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was In) 9 Meredith Monk – Walking Song 10 Erich Wolfgang Korngold – Glück das mir verblieb 11 Henry Mancini – Lujon 12 Gipsy Kings – Hotel California 13 Carter Burwell – Wie glauben 14 Townes Van Zandt – Dead Flowers

We believe in nussing

An expectedly tasteful and quirky choice of songs by the Coen Brothers, but ultimately just that: Some songs and artists you might not get acquainted with otherwise set next to each other. Of course the film context adds a lot of consistency to the experience, but musically speaking, this playlist, say, on a mix tape would merit some respect for musical knowledge and eclectic boldness, but people would ask: Where’s the actual flow?

Admittedly, some things go together nicely, at least conceptually: Exotica-diva Yma Sumac and Mancini’s death-by-tropic-lounge „Lujon“ on the same album is a good idea, as well is one of Dylan’s greatest underrated tunes next to Costello’s very good „My Mood Swings“, surprisingly recorded for this soundtrack. Kenny Rogers and The First Edition add the nowadays monumental „Condition“, which is the best psychedelic country-rock number that I know this side of „Eight Miles High“ (even as pastiche), so this is also a good buy if you’re looking for just that (as it isn’t really representative of how Rogers would develop).

The ultimate avantgarde obscurity Moondog makes an appearance and this is the one song that sounds as if was made for the movie in a kind of prophetic move by Moondog a few decades earlier), and kudos to the Coens for picking „Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles“, whose inclusion here I’m sure introduced legions of teens to Captain Beefheart. That’s worth a lot.

So, while I see many good things about this as a cultural artefact, and I admire the boldness of putting a bunch of avantgarde artists next to Mancini and a piece of Austrian classical Opera (in German, nonetheless), this is hardly something you’ll listen through over and over as a musical document. It’s more like an educational effort: „Look, teenagers, you liked our movie about a stoner. Your subconscience noticed it being accompanied perfectly by the song picks. Now, learn and listen to what you’ve actually listened“, hopefully prompting further research. And why not?

Oh, and all the Creedence tracks are missing – for copyright and run-time reasons, I assume, but it’s kind of a great in-joke between soundtrack and film.