The soundtrack to the 2001 film Ghost World is a mixture of music ranging from jazz and blues of the early 20th Century to complement a lot of the material from the film. Featuring other styles of music such as blues-rock, hip-hop, and Bollywood along with a score piece from David Kitay. The soundtrack to Ghost World is truly a wonderful compilation that serves as an excellent companion piece to the film.
Opening the soundtrack is Mohammed Rafi’s Jaan Pehechaan Ho, a vibrant Bollywood style track with baritone-laden guitar melodies, blaring horns, and upbeat vocals. The song is used to open the film where the character of Enid dances as it appears from the film Gumnaam. Graduation Rap by Vanilla, Jade, and Ebony is a cheesy rap song written by director Terry Zwigoff and co-screenwriter Daniel Clowes that is filled with some lame lyrics. Skip James’ Devil Got My Woman is a blues track with a smooth acoustic track and James’ somber vocals over the loss of his woman. I Must Have It by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks is a wonderful jazz track set in a mid-tempo rhythm with a blaring trumpet, swooning saxophones, and a smooth guitar drive.
Lionel Belasco’s Miranda is another mid-tempo jazz piece led by tinkling piano melodies and a somber clarinet as it’s a superb piece as each instrument plays back and forth or accompanying each other. Blueshammer’s Pickin’ Cotton Blues is a loud, blaring blues-rocker with cheesy lyrics that is more of a parody of blues songs while it features a sliding guitar that goes overboard in what is a very funny track. Let’s Go Riding by Mr. Freddie is a simple, bopping ragtime song with a washy guitar as Mr. Freddie sings songs of having a good time while talking during the song as he’s still playing. Georgia On My Mind by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks is a cover of the famed Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell conversation set in a slow yet somber ragtime jazz setting with trumpets and soft guitars.
Lionel Belasco’s Las Palmas de Maracaibo is a Latin-inspired piece with swooning flutes and trumpets with scratchy percussions and vibrant xylophones all in a slow, mid-tempo presentation as it’s a wonderful track. Clarice from Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks is an upbeat ragtime jazz piece with spurting guitars and flourishing pianos as they play to a clarinet, a saxophone, and a trumpet as they each bring wonderful notes to the performances. Craig Ventresco’s Scalding Hot Coffee Rag is a blues piece led by a wonderful acoustic guitar performance with blues melodies played through in a great instrumental piece. Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks’ You’re Just My Type is another ragtime piece with a smooth, mid-tempo rhythm as it’s dominated by a trumpet playing with saxophones and clarinets accompanying it along with a guitar and piano.
Venezuela by Lionel Belasco is a somber piece led by a soft piano and a clarinet that plays slowly and picks up the pace a bit during its performance as it’s a lovely piece that plays to Enid and Seymour’s feeling of alienation and longing. Fare Thee Well Blues by Joe Calicott is a blues song that has Calicott singing and playing a swift, arpeggio-laden guitar to melancholic lyrics. C.C. & O. Blues by Pink Anderson and Simmie Dooley is a more upbeat blues track with flourishing guitars as it features vocals about trains as it’s a playful blues track. The McGee Brothers’ C-h-i-c-k-e-n Spells Chicken is a playful blues song that features some racist lyrics that involves chicken.
Robert Wilkins’ That’s No Way to Get Along is an acoustic-laden blues track with Wilkins’ vocals singing about the way things go wrong as he’s playing to a mid-tempo, washy guitar track. Dallas String Band’s So Tired is an upbeat, ragtime blues piece with arpeggio-laden guitar and mandolin piece as it features calm vocals filled morose lyrics. Bye Bye Baby Blues by Little Hat Jones is a slow, mid-tempo acoustic-blues piece as it features wailing vocals filled with melancholic lyrics to play to the sense of melancholia in the film. The closing track is the theme to the film by David Kitay with its melancholic piano flourishes and lush string arrangements to complement Enid’s sense of alienation around her.
While the soundtrack has a great collection of blues and jazz pieces, the soundtrack is a bit imperfect not due to a few tracks that don’t fit in. It’s the other pieces of music that isn’t in the soundtrack that makes the album feel incomplete. Among the omissions are various pop songs that appear in the diner scenes, Ashford & Simpson’s Solid, A Smile and a Ribbon by Patience and Prudence, and the Buzzcocks’ What Do I Get along with some score pieces by David Kitay.
The soundtrack to Ghost World is a superb soundtrack that is a bit inconsistent early on due to non-related blues and jazz pieces with the exception of Jaan Pehechaan Ho. While it is a soundtrack that fans of the film must have, it also serves a good introduction for those interested in blues and jazz pieces of the early 20th Century. In the end, the soundtrack to Ghost World is stellar collection of blues and jazz music mixed in with a bit of Bollywood that fans of the film can enjoy.
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