Exploring Soundtracks: Rushmore

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Today in Exploring Soundtracks, we’ll be taking a look at another Wes Anderson movie. This one was Anderson’s second film, one that he co-wrote with Owen Wilson. “Rushmore” was released in 1998, and helped launch both Wes Anderson’s and Jason Schwartzman’s careers.

Like most Wes Anderson films, “Rushmore” has a carefully put together soundtrack. Originally, Anderson intended the soundtrack to be comprised almost entirely of songs by The Kinks. But by the time that the film was finished, the concept for the soundtrack album changed until only one Kinks song remained. Despite Anderson’s work on it, the soundtrack was produced by Mark Mothersbaugh. And while only one Kinks song makes an appearance, it features plenty of songs from the bands associated with the 1960’s British Invasion.

Before we take a closer look at the soundtrack, let’s first do a quick review of the film itself, to add some context.

Synopsis

“Rushmore” follows the story of eccentric teenager Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a sophomore at Rushmore Academy. He is both the most involved student in extracurricular activities, and the least involved student in his studies.

When Max meets a beautiful first-grade teacher (Olivia Williams), he turns to the father of two of his schoolmates, Herman Blume (Bill Murray) for advice. Things quickly get complicated when Herman becomes interested as well, pitting the two against one another in a war for her affection.

Rushmore

Without seeing the film, the collection of songs in the soundtrack might not make a lot of sense together. It alternates between Mothersbaugh’s sweet, plucky classical score, fuzzy British rock, and Cat Stevens.

The first British Invasion song we get comes in fairly early in the film. After the opening scene, we get an unorthodox introduction to Max Fischer’s extracurricular life. This consists of a series of single shots displaying Max involved in various extracurricular clubs. During this short montage, The Creation’s “Making Time” plays in the background. Interesting fun fact, “Making Time” was one of the first rock songs to feature a guitar played with a bow.

The only Kinks’ song to make it through to the soundtrack was “Nothin’ in the World Can Stop Me Worryin’ ‘Bout That Girl”. It plays in a scene in which Herman Blume sits alone on the sidelines of his twin sons’ birthday party, smoking a cigarette and tossing golf balls into a pool. The song mostly drives home the distance present in Hume’s marriage, and contrasts nicely with the obvious depression he’s in.

The last song in the film plays in the last scene, at a school dance celebrating Max’s latest play. That song is “Ooh La La” by Faces, which plays in the final slow motion shot, and throughout the ending credits. The song hits a major theme of “Rushmore”, captured most effectively in its chorus. “I wish that I knew what I know now / When I was younger / I wish that I knew what I know now / When I was stronger”.

Final Thoughts

Unsurprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the songs on this soundtrack while watching the film. However, I do still think that as a standalone album, it’s somewhat lacking.

There are some soundtrack albums (“Baby Driver”, “Reservoir Dogs”) that are a great pleasure to listen to on their own. Unfortunately, “Rushmore” doesn’t make the cut, at least for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the choices, and they certainly do a good job in pulling some of the emotional weight of the film. But if I were ever to think about listening to this soundtrack, I’d sooner just watch “Rushmore” again. But that’s just me.

Track List

  1. “Hardest Geometry Problem in the World” – Mark Mothersbaugh.
  2. “Making Time” – The Creation.
  3. “Concrete and Clay” – Unit 4 + 2.
  4. “Nothin’ in the World Can Stop Me Worryin’ ‘Bout That Girl” – The Kinks.
  5. “Sharp Little Guy” – Mark Mothersbaugh.
  6. “The Lad With the Silver Button” – Mark Mothersbaugh.
  7. “A Summer Song” – Chad & Jeremy.
  8. “Edward Appleby (In Memoriam)” – Mark Mothersbaugh.
  9. “Here Comes My Baby” – Cat Stevens.
  10. “A Quick One, While He’s Away” – The Who.
  11. “Snowflake Music” (from Bottle Rocket) – Mark Mothersbaugh.
  12. “Piranhas Are a Very Tricky Species” – Mark Mothersbaugh.
  13. “Blinuet” – Zoot Sims.
  14. “Friends Like You, Who Needs Friends” – Mark Mothersbaugh.
  15. “Rue St. Vincent” – Yves Montand.
  16. “Kite Flying Society” – Mark Mothersbaugh.
  17. “The Wind” – Cat Stevens.
  18. “Oh Yoko!” – John Lennon.
  19. “”Ooh La La”” – Faces.
  20. “Margaret Yang’s Theme” – Mark Mothersbaugh.

 

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