Imagine if you will, a world parallel to our own, identical in many ways, disparate in others. Long story short, in this mirror universe, Bands I Useta Like was optioned by a major independent film studio, and made into a hit movie. It combined animation and live action, and because the producers had deep pockets, licensing songs for a decent soundtrack wasn’t a problem.
Whether I allowed the film to be produced at all was contingent upon the quality of the music choices. If they balked at a crucial song, or refused to include it, I would walk off the project. Which I did, and they replaced me on-screen with a real actor. Like I said, the movie was a hit.
The 2-disc soundtrack sold out of stores overnight. Even though it came packed in that shitty double jewel-box, which just winds up broken, on the floor of a car.
Bands I Useta Like (the movie) had a healthy budget, which allowed for a lavish opening flashback scene, with narration providing my inner monologue, as I first began my job at the mall record store, in the early 1990’s. Oh, how innocent we all were.
Track 1: “Hallogallo”, NEU!
The optimism and joie de vivre are abruptly shattered by raucous animated titles. The opening credits synchronize sharply with the following track, setting the anarchic tone for the rest of the film. I did my damnedest to get the animators on board with what I wanted; a perfect wedding of my style with that of Saul Bass.
Track 2: “Batman”, NAKED CITY
Much of the film is montages, with narration, and a specific song audible in the background. Sometimes, to cut costs, we used diegetic music; the song is playing on a stereo or television within the story space. That way, you don’t have to pay the artist shit! In this parallel universe that I’m making up!
Track 3: “Retrovertigo”, MR. BUNGLE
Many viewers came away from the film especially taken by the “malaise” sequence, which is accompanied by this song. “I’ve never seen malaise depicted with such brilliance and deftness,” said one audience member who totally wasn’t a supermodel I’d banged previously.
Track 4: “Twenty Years” (Far Side Version), BILL FRISELL
I pushed hard for Frisell to do the entire score, but it didn’t work out. The producers couldn’t arrange a session with Frisell’s old “Far Side” quartet, so I hurled a potted plant through of the office window and was promptly escorted off the studio lot. That’s why the “Egg Radio” scene in the Mexican cantina got cut.
The “awkward date” sequence with “Twenty Years” stayed in though. The producers insisted on a “romantic subplot”, and I insisted that I be plied with cocaine, and hookers.
Track 5: “The Gumbo Variations”, FRANK ZAPPA
This is the classic sequence where we try to get weed. The entire song is used to depict an afternoon where marijuana is doggedly hunted, but never found. It begins with the call, then everyone gets in the car, unleashing a desperate pursuit around Atlanta for the herb. In cars, out of cars, in houses, out of houses. Critics said it rivaled the “helicopters and sauce” scene from Martin Scorcese’s Goodfellas (1990). Well, one did. The critics didn’t all get together and say it at once, that’s silly.
Ian Underwood’s explosive sax underscores one friend’s increasingly desperate need for pot, as he slides into traffic-induced hysteria:
The “human interest” subplot continues with our man at Zesto on Moreland, alone with his thoughts, eating something that is undoubtedly delicious, but that he will pay for later, in spades:
Track 6: “Too Much Time”, CAPTAIN BEEFHEART
This segues into the next “hypersexual” banging montage, because this is a parallel universe where that actually happens. Even though it was animated, the reviewer at Slate called it “gratuitous”. In Bizarro-world, Slate is worth reading.
Track 7: “Get Down”, REVOLTING COCKS
Holy shit, what the hell was I thinking when I committed to this idea?!
I can’t remember which montage the following Mingus track accompanied; such is the fleeting nature of cross-dimensional conceptual properties. What am I talking about? What am I doing?!?
Track 8: “Hobo Ho”, CHARLES MINGUS
Oh yeah! Now I remember. There’s a movie-within-the-movie, referencing John’s Arm: Armageddon. This song plays over the production of it. I have lost my mind.
Next, some kind of crazy thing goes down in Little 5 Points. I don’t want to specify, because it’s a real place with real businesses, so it has to be something not based in reality, that I can’t think of/remember right now. Maybe parade-related hijinks, like in Animal House. Yeah, that’ll do.
Track 9: “Last Exit”, PEARL JAM
This precedes the “going to jail” sequence of the film. Many hilarious vignettes unfold here.
My character’s adjustment to incarceration is marked by the appearance of the following track, which I ran through my head to “toughen up” (more opportunities for hilarity):
Track 10: “Poppin’ My Collar”, THREE 6 MAFIA
You know, like Office Space, but in jail. Trust me, it was funny, not like some dumb Will Ferrell crap. The animation of the many tattoos I drew for commissary items was frickin’ awesome and everybody said so. We hired actual tattoo artists to contribute designs and then Rob Zombie strolled in and whizzed all over it. Frickin’ totally, batshit awesome.
I’m skipping a lot, because my copy is a promo, and not the full two-disc set. I’m pushing this dumb concept about as far as it will go. If you’re getting the impression that there exists somewhere in reality a treatment for this movie, well, you’re not far off there, bunky. Stranger things have been known to happen.
Track 11: “Debaser”, PIXIES
Of course, there has to be a “convention scene”, with ample opportunity to lampoon every stripe of comic fandom. Thanks to my mercurial nature and alcohol abuse, things rapidly descend into bedlam and chaos.
The dust clears. What did it all mean?
Simple; it was a fancy way of selling a double album at an inflated price, with a bunch of music people already had. Along the way, we got to make a good movie. I mean, in this parallel universe I totally made up.
For the coda, our hero rides off into the sunset, narration describing how far he’s come, what he’s lost, what he hopes is on the horizon. Probably rides a bus. He rarely has a car.
Track 12: “Dick, Dale, Rick and Ricky”, COMPULSION
It’s kinda like the end of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but much less optimistic. The last line is “Oh well, fuck it.”
Shock cut to black.
The end credits roll over the greatest end credits song ever recorded.
Track 13: “What Deaner Was Talkin’ About”, WEEN
Unanimous applause and cheers; the lights come up and people make their way to the exits as the song plays. There is no “extra scene” after the end credits. Yes, it’s a “comic book adaptation”, but it’s not a Marvel movie. In this parallel universe I made up, there are no corporate monopolies, so independent features still get produced, and are successful. I forget which tense I was writing this in. My head hurts.
Here is a playlist of the full soundtrack, for your enjoyment. The variations in volume are not my fault. This article, however, is.