“Confrontation” by Craig Safan from the film “Thief” (1981) dir. Michael Mann

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“Confrontation” is the one musical track NOT composed by Tangerine Dream for Michael Mann’s classic 1981 crime film “Thief.” Yet, it’s one of the most pivotal tracks as it is the theme for the final and extremely bloody gunfight at the end of the film. Composer Craig Safan (who is probably most famous for composing the theme to the TV show “Cheers”) was undoubtedly listening to Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” a LOT when composing this music. In any case, it’s a great piece of film music and was one of the earliest and best uses of rock music and film up to that time … a time when it was unusual to have rock music score a scene of this type. I have included the scene below to see how the music plays in the scene. Due to some graphic violence, not safe for work or little ones.

“Space Oddity” by David Bowie / Kristen Wiig from “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (2013) dir. Ben Stiller

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From Ben Stiller’s flawed, but occasionally brilliant 2013 remake of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” this is a compilation of scenes set to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” a song which plays a pivotal role in the film. I felt “Mitty” was severely underrated. The understated way that director Stiller shows the developing relationship between his character and Kristen Wiig’s is wonderful and one of the best and most natural portrayals of “a friendship growing into something more” ever put on film.

“Nothing Compares 2 U” – Sinead O’ Connor

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Hard to believe this one is almost 25 years old. I was a huge fan of Sinead O’Connor’s first album “The Lion and the Cobra” from 1987 and when I heard this track in the early months of 1990, I was completely knocked out and knew it was an instant classic. Despite what I felt at the time, the surrounding album “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got,” was not as good as “Lion and the Cobra,” but it still was quite good. Prince originally wrote this song for a band called The Family, whose version I have not been able to track down. The video is also a classic.

“In Heaven, Everything is Fine” by Peter Ivers / David Lynch from “Eraserhead” (1978)

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Here is one of the more memorable scenes from director David Lynch’s early masterpiece “Eraserhead” … the “lady in the radiator” song “In Heaven, Everything is Fine.” The song was composed by Peter Ivers and David Lynch and sung by Ivers. The song was later covered by Devo and Frank Black of the Pixies. Ivers recorded some eccentric, but occasionally brilliant albums in the 1970s before becoming the host of “New Wave Theater,” one of the best shows from the early days of cable TV. Lynch … well … I wonder whatever happened to him …

“Pretty Big Mouth” – Count Five

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An awesome knuckle-dragging anthem, this time courtesy of the Count Five, circa 1966. I could pontificate about the greatness of this rude anthem, but I’ll let the lyrics speak for themselves:

“I was born way down in the deep deep south
I met a pretty pretty woman with a real big mouth
I gonna make that big mouth woman my wife
I gonna love that woman for the rest of my life
I’ll marry her and I’ll feel fine
I’ll feel fine when I make her mine
I took a trip up north and one back west
I went to the east to find the best
But I ended up to the deep deep south
Making love to the woman with a big big mouth.”

The Mellow Moods of Black Sabbath

By the time Black Sabbath recorded their fourth album in 1972 (the ingeniously titled “Black Sabbath Vol. 4″), it seems like they were taking some cues from another famous 4th album of the time (“Led Zeppelin 4″) and expanding their musical palette beyond the goth doom and gloom heavy crunchers that made up their first three albums. In any case, the album had these two stellar ballads. The first is a painful breakup anthem (“Changes”) … the other is a lovely, acoustic instrumental number (“Laguna Sunrise”). Despite the fact that this is a heavy band playing mellowing out, these efforts are not forced or cheesy. They are truly splendid songs and makes one wish Sabbath had done more in this vein. To this day, they are still a supremely underrated band.

Changes:

Laguna Sunrise:

“Misty Blue” – Dorothy Moore

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I became familiar with this R&B classic when my Mom tried to track down this record for an extended period when I was about 7 or 8 years old, but couldn’t find it anywhere. It wasn’t exactly out-of-print, but it wasn’t easy to find, oddly considering how big a hit it was back in the day. She eventually found it and was definitely worth the effort.

My Mom’s efforts to track down the record are not dissimilar to Moore’s efforts in getting this song released. She recorded it in 1973, but it wasn’t until 1976 that it became a hit. Moore’s version is the most popular (reaching #3 on the Billboard charts in 1976), but it had its origins as a country song. It was written by Bob Montgomery for Brenda Lee, but she turned it down. It became a minor hit for Wilma Burgess in 1966 and a bigger hit for Eddy Arnold in 1967. Moore’s version is by far the most popular, but countless country and R&B artists have recorded it over the years. A great song is a great song is a great song…

“I’m a Dreamer” – Linda Thompson

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Just discovered this gem of a cover by Sandy Denny’s friend Linda Thompson (Linda’s ex-husband Richard Thompson was in the band Fairport Convention with Sandy). Linda’s lovely voice does this terrific Denny song justice. If I’m not mistaken, I think the guitar player on this track is Richard. If it’s not, it’s one of the best Richard Thompson imitations I’ve ever heard.

“I’m a Dreamer” – Sandy Denny

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My favorite Sandy Denny song, released before her tragic death in 1978. Denny is probably most famous for her duet with Robert Plant on Led Zeppelin’s “The Battle for Evermore.” But she was also the lead singer for English folk-rock legends The Fairport Convention during their most acclaimed period between 1968 and 1971. Her best-known song, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” has been covered by everyone from Judy Collins to Eva Cassidy.

If a biopic of Denny’s life had ever been made, Emily Watson would’ve been the definitive choice to play Denny.