Soundtracks I Have Loved: Pulp Fiction

Soundtrack: Pulp Fiction
Year Released: 1994
I Bought It On: CD
How Does It Hold Up?: Well

1. Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (dialogue)/Misirlou - Dick Dale & His Del-Tones
2. Royale With Cheese (dialogue) - John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson
3. Jungle Boogie - Kool & The Gang
4. Let's Stay Together - Al Green
5. Bustin' Surfboards - The Tornadoes
6. Lonesome Town - Ricky Nelson
7. Son Of A Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield
8. Zed's Dead, Baby (dialogue)/Bullwinkle Part II - The Centurians
9. Jack Rabbit Slim's Twist Contest (dialogue)/You Never Can Tell - Chuck Berry
10. Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon - Urge Overkill
11. If Love Is A Red Dress (Hang Me In Rags) - Maria McKee
12. Bring Out the Gimp (dialogue)/Comanche - The Revels
13. Flowers On The Wall - The Statler Brothers
14. Personality Goes A Long Way (dialogue) - John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson
15. Surf Rider - The Lively Ones
16. Ezekiel 25:17 (dialogue) - Samuel L. Jackson

As the immensely popular Soundtracks I Have Loved series comes to a close (take the rags away from your face...there are still two more after this one), I have occasionally found myself rifling through the Saved by the Bell trivia cluttering my brain to make sure I haven't forgotten anything. In doing so, I have recalled Soundtracks I Have Liked A Lot (Great Balls of Fire), Soundtracks I Have Liked Just Fine (A League of Their Own, Philadelphia, Honeymoon in Vegas), and Soundtracks On Which I Love Maybe One or Two Songs So I Bought Them Long After the Movie Was Released (to be visited in a future post).

But while making the transition from a CD rack (and random piles of CDs on my floor) to large, portable CD cases, I came across the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction, which reminds me an awful lot of my time at Ithaca College. And one unfortunate incident in Ithaca that occurred after my graduation.

I first saw Pulp Fiction in what I think was my only trip to the Ithaca College Student Activities Board weekend movies in Textor Hall. So I guess that would place it sometime in 1995, since the Textor movies were ones that had been out of the theater for awhile but were still relatively new (or The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which I have deftly avoided for my entire three-plus decades on Earth). And if it was the spring semester of 1995, I almost certainly attended alone, as that first year of college was not a very social one for me. The other three weren't exactly a giant party, either, but freshman year was a particularly antisocial affair. The upside of that was I spent a lot of nights discovering blues music other than The Blues Brothers at The Haunt downtown, so the year wasn't a total loss.

Anyway, enough about my social awkwardness (the name of my next blog) and back to the movie. I liked it, and I liked the music in it quite a bit, too. So, soon the soundtrack was purchased.

I think I was already into Dick Dale before I saw Pulp Fiction, though I'm not sure how (maybe through another movie soundtrack we will talk about soon), but I became a little obsessive after listening to "Misirlou." And it's one of the best soundtrack starters that I can think of. Good start to the movie, too.

I can generally do without soundtracks that include dialogue from the movie, but music is such an integral part of the movie that it makes sense on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Unfortunately, I forgot about the dialogue when I decided to play "Misirlou" on the jukebox at Ithaca's Bowl-O-Drome a few years ago. And, because I'm me, I wasn't there on a crowded night where no one's paying much attention to the music anyway. No, I was there in the afternoon. Bowling by myself. While a children's birthday party was under way. So, as soon as I heard Tim Roth's voice, I wanted to run out of the bowling alley. But I didn't. The guy at the front desk lowered the volume just about when Amanda Plummer said "pricks." But it was still loud enough. Sorry, impressionable young minds of Ithaca.

Of course, "Misirlou" isn't the only great song on the soundtrack, or the only great instrumental for that matter. Of the other instrumentals, "Bustin' Surfboards," "Bullwinkle Part II," and "Surf Rider" are fine, but "Comanche" takes the second-place prize.

As for the non-instrumentals, there are a bunch of gems, all of them better than the soundtrack's hit and only new track, "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon,", which isn't really a knock on that song, just the truth. I mean, unless someone does a particularly awesome version of "Porcupine Pie," a Neil Diamond cover will never be cooler than "Jungle Boogie," by Jersey City's own Kool & the Gang.

And you can't go wrong with Chuck Berry (unless you hire a crappy band to back him up, he doesn't get into the show, and you're left depressed as he stumbles through "Johnny B. Goode"...still can't shake the memory of that show).

"Let's Stay Together" and "Son of a Preacher Man" are similarly can't-miss additions to any soundtrack, and though I can do without "Lonesome Town" and I never really warmed up to "If Love Is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags)," they have their charms, too.

Easily the most pleasant surprise was courtesy of The Statler Brothers, whom I had previously dismissed as one of the worst things ever because my dad always watched them on The Nashville Network Saturday night, which meant I had no shot of watching anything I wanted to see on TV that night. Granted, aside from bowling and wrestling (which I liked too, so it was cool), this was pretty much the only hour of appointment TV my dad had all week (though if he happened upon a M*A*S*H or Hogan's Heroes rerun, good luck getting the remote control away from him). But that didn't make me any less angry. I was a bit of a snot at times.

So, when I saw the cursed Statler Brothers on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, I was not pleased. Until I listened to the song.

"Playing solitaire 'til dawn/With a deck of 51?" How great a line is that? Who knew they sang cool songs? And here I thought they were all '80s sweaters and cornball patter. Sorry, Dad. You were right. Again. And, hey, why not check out more good Statlers songs here, here, here, and here. My dad would want you to.

And so ends another SIHL installment. The next one, our final full-album soundtrack piece, will be a marked contrast to Pulp Fiction. But I think it might be my all-time favorite soundtrack.

You're excited. I can tell.

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