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20 Songs Inspired By Films

20 Songs Inspired By Films

20 Songs Inspired By Films
Danielle de Wolfe
27 October 2014

Following on from our list of songs inspired by books, here's a look at 20 songs that took their cues from the movies.

Do you know which rom-com annoyed The Wombats enough to write a song about it? Or which Woody Allen film is referenced by post-hardcore legends Fugazi? Or even which husband/wife, sister/brother, drums/guitar duo reworked all of Citizen Kane to their own ends?

Take a look at our list to see which artists have got popcorn stuck in their teeth...


Artist/Song: Pixies – Debaser (from 1989’s Doolittle)

Film:Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Debaser references the surrealist film by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, Un Chien Andalou. However, it nearly referenced the Prince film Purple Rain, as Black Francis originally wanted to sing the cryptic allusion “Shed Apollonia!”. Another song by the band, Gigantic, is lyrically based on the Sissy Spacek and Diane Keaton movie Crimes Of The Heart.


Artist/Song: Deep Blue Something – Breakfast At Tiffany's (from 1995’s Home)

Film:Roman Holiday (1953)

Deep Blue Something Breakfast At Tiffany’s was inspired by an Audrey Hepburn film, but not the one you're thinking of. The band's Todd Pipes was inspired to write the song after watching Roman Holiday, but thought Breakfast At Tiffany's made for a better song title. 


Artist/Song: Bertie Higgins – Key Largo (from 1982’s Just Another Day In Paradise)

Film: Key Largo (1948)

Bertie Higgins (left, looking like a youthful Billy Bob Thornton crossed with Cat Stevens) released his only top 40 single, Key Largo, in 1981. The song is based on the 1948 film of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. 


Artist/Song: Bob Dylan – Brownsville Girl (from 1986’s Knocked Out Loaded)

Film: The Gunfighter (1950)

Released in the midst of Bob Dylan's mid-'80s malaise, Knocked Out Loaded was largely forgettable, save for the 11-minute epic Brownsville Girl. When grizzled old Bob croaks, "Well, there was this movie I seen one time/About a man riding ’cross the desert and it starred Gregory Peck," he's talking about the 1950 western The Gunfighter.


Artist/Song: alt-J Matilda (from 2012’s An Awesome Wave)

Film: Léon: The Professional (1994)

Matilda, from alt-J's Mercury Prize-winning album An Awesome Wave, is inspired by Natalie Portman's character in Léon.


Artist/Song: Regina Spektor – Fidelity (from 2006’s Begin To Hope)

Film: High Fidelity (2000)

Regina Spektor wrote her 2006 single Fidelity while watching the film High Fidelity. Sadly, whether she was high or not hasn't been noted.


Artist/Song: R.E.M. – Imitation Of Life (from 2001’s Reveal)

Film: Imitation Of Life (1948)

R.E.M.'s Imitation Of Life takes its title from the 1948 film of the same name, starring Lana Turner. Turner plays an up and coming actress, and her struggle for fame is reflected in the lines, "That's cinnamon, that's Hollywood/c'mon c'mon no-one can see you try."


Artist/Song: "Weird Al" Yankovic – Jurassic Park (from 1993’s Alapalooza)

Film: Jurassic Park (1993)

"Weird Al" Yankovic has recorded numerous parodies of movies and movie characters (see his version of The Kinks' Lola, reworked to be all about "Yoda, Y-O-D-A, Yoda"). His Jurassic Park is based on Jimmy Webb's MacArthur Park, and switches the notorious "Someone left the cake out in the rain," to, "Someone shut the fence off in the rain."


Artist/Song: NIN – Only (from 2005’s With Teeth)

Film: Fight Club (1999)

Nine Inch Nails' Only is based on Fight Club, and contains the line, "You were never really real to begin with, I just made you up to hurt myself". 


Artist/Song: Iron Maiden – Man On The Edge (from 1995’s The X Factor)

Film: Falling Down (1993)

The chap on the left only went in for an ingrowing toenail. Awful business. Anyway, Iron Maiden's Man On The Edge is based on the Michael Douglas classic Falling Down. Quite what D-Fens's vitriolic trudge through LA has got to do with cover art that seems to show an Orc having a lobotomy, we've no idea.


Artist/Song: Scott Walker – The Seventh Seal (from 1969’s Scott 4)

Film: The Seventh Seal (1957)

As part of The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker was a teen-pop idol. However, the title of their massive 1965 single The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore hinted at the darkness that lay ahead. Scott's solo career is moody and challenging stuff, preoccupied with high art. The opening track from his fourth solo album, Scott 4, is a retelling of Ingmar Bergman's arthouse classic The Seventh Seal.

(Image: Rex)


Artist/Song: The Ataris – So Long, Astoria (from 2003’s So Long, Astoria)

Film: The Goonies (1985)

Quiz question: Which lovable troupe of cinematic adventurers hails from Astoria, Oregon? The answer is, of course, The Goonies. Indiana punks The Ataris named their fourth album (and its title track) in honour of them. 


Artist/Song: Aerosmith – Walk This Way (from 1975’s Toys In The Attic)

Film: Young Frankenstein (1974)

No, this isn't the "good" version featuring Run DMC. Instead, it's Aerosmith's original release of Walk This Way, the lyrics and title of which was inspired by a trip to the cinema to see Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein


Artist/Song: The Clash – Red Angel Dragnet (from 1982’s Combat Rock)

Film: Taxi Driver (1976)

The last 'proper' Clash album (drummer Topper Headon was fired during production, and Mick Jones soon after), 1982's Combat Rock features the song Red Angel Dragnet. Though the song is inspired by a murder in Newark, New Jersey, its lyrics also heavily reference Taxi Driver: "Tonight it’s raining on the city/Who could have prophesised these people/Only Travis." Clash associate Kosmo Vinyl also reads passages of Travis Bickle's dialogue from the film.


Artist/Song: The White Stripes – The Union Forever (from 2001’s White Blood Cells)

Film: Citizen Kane (1941)

The White Stripes' classic White Blood Cells contains the song The Union Forever, the lyrics to which are all lines of dialogue taken from Orson Welles' Citizen Kane. The song also features a revised version of a song that is sung in the movie. Somehow, Jack and Meg didn't get sued.


Artist/Song: Georgie Fame – The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde (1967)

Film: Bonnie And Clyde (1967)

Londoner Georgie Fame performed this 1967 single after watching the Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway movie, released earlier that year. Unlike the Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot song released in 1968, Fame doesn't glorify the outlaws.


Artist/Song: Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising (from 1969’s Green River)

Film: All That Money Can Buy (The Devil And Daniel Webster) (1941)

Creedence's Bad Moon Rising is inspired by the 1941 fantasy film All That Money Can Buy (The Devil And Daniel Webster). Band leader John Fogerty was moved by a sequence featuring a hurricane, claiming the song is about, "the apocalypse that was going to be visited upon us."


Artist/Song: Fugazi – Walken's Syndrome (from 1993’s In On The Kill Taker)

Film: Annie Hall (1977)

Post-hardcore punks Fugazi's third album, 1992's In On The Kill Taker, features the song Walken's Syndrome. The song is about Christopher Walken's character in the Woody Allen classic Annie Hall, who has an urge to crash his car into oncoming traffic. Of course, roads are dangerous places: if it's not too far to go, you're always safer Walken. (Sorry.)


Artist/Song: Big Audio Dynamite – E=MC2 (from 1985’s This Is Big Audio Dynamite)

Films: Performance (1970), Walkabout (1971), Don't Look Now (1973) and The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976)

Post The Clash, Mick Jones teamed up with Don Letts to form Big Audio Dynamite. E=MC2, their first big single, draws almost entirely on the films of Australian director Nic Roeg. Roeg's works include Walkabout, The Man Who Fell To Earth, Performance and Don't Look Now.


Artist/Song: The Wombats – Kill The Director (from 2007’s The Wombats Proudly Present: A Guide To Love, Loss & Desperation)

Films: The Holiday (2006)

The Wombats' third single, Kill The Director, is a rant against the Jack Black and Kate Winslet rom-com The Holiday. Knowing this, we can now finally all make sense of the line, "This is no Bridget Jones."