As someone who finds themselves continuously inspired as much, if not more, by music than film, I find myself always playing these mental games. An honest attempt has been made to avoid the ridiculously easy songs which already contain a narrative—like every song The Hold Steady record—and rely as much on melody, tempo and dynamics as lyrics. The title of the post says it all…
Planet of Sound by The Pixies
This is an obvious one, as the lyrics sketch out the story of an extraterrestrial’s search for the origin of rock ‘n roll. At least, I think that’s the story. Like most of Tromp Le Monde, the Pixies fourth and final album, there’s an atmospheric, spacy sheen to everything, further illustrating the distance from their Albini-shaped past. The film would have been an Italian science fiction B-movie from the sixties, one replete with miniature alien landscapes, hallucinatory set design and badly dubbed dialogue.
I Send My Love To You by Palace Brothers
It seems kind of odd now, what with Will Oldham becoming more comfortable as a celebrity, whether goofing with Zach Galifinakis in their Kanye West video, making a cameo in Trapped in the Closet, or acting in films like Old Joy and The Guatemalan Handshake, but back in days of Days in the Wake, he was still working his Jandek angle. I Send My Love To You is a beautiful, sparse country ballad with the bone-dry grit of a dustbowl serenade. It’s filmic equivalent is one of those lonely, rural dramas (usually directed by Europeans) that somehow manage to get Sam Shepard involved, whether as an actor, a writer, or inspiration.
Crestfallen by The Pernice Brothers
Very few songwriters can manage the trick of crafting a song that sounds sweet, catchy and hopeful upon first listening, but begins to take on a bleaker, more pessimistic acridity as the lyrics sharpen into focus. This is precisely what Joe Pernice manages on most of the songs from Overcome by Happiness, but Crestfallen may be the poppiest and prettiest example. As a film, it’s a by-the-numbers 80’s romantic comedy that gradually turns darker and less benign, something close to what Jonathan Demme acolyte Paul Thomas Anderson was attempting with Punch Drunk Love… but hopefully without having to bear the weight of the albatross that is Adam Sandler’s acting ability.