Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 1/25/08 w/ Additional Edits.
The soundtrack to Wes Anderson's Rushmore is a wonderful soundtrack that features Anderson's love for British rock music, notably the British Invasion period of the 1960s. Along with a film score by one of Anderson's collaborator, Mark Mothersbaugh of the band Devo, the score and music emphasizes on the moods and journey through the characters of Anderson's unique world in the film. With contributions from Cat Stevens, the Kinks, the Who, the Creation, Unit 4+2, Chad & Jeremy, the Faces, Zoot Sims, Yves Montand, and John Lennon. The soundtrack to Rushmore is a wonderfully energetic, joyful, and powerful compilation of music.
The soundtrack opens with Mark Mothersbaugh score instrumental entitled The Hardest Geometry Problem In The World with its fast-paced string plucks and jazz-like guitars to convey the intensity that then slows down to something dreamy with chiming instruments as it is later followed by a jazz, acoustic guitar and flute accompaniment. The track serves as a wonderful opener to the dream world of Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) as he dreams about solving the hardest geometry problem ever. The next track is the Creations' Making Time which is a fast, rocking track that sounds similar to the Who in its intensity and angst. Yet, this British Invasion classic works to emphasize Max Fischer's reality that includes numerous extracurricular activities that he is a part of in his school Rushmore. Unit 4+2 bring in Concrete & Clay is another British Invasion obscurity that is a kinetic track featuring jazz-like guitar riffs and calypso rhythms in this wonderful song that plays to Max's love for his school Rushmore.
The Kinks arrive with a somber song called Nothing In This World Can Stop Me Worrin' Bout That Girl that plays to Ray Davies' plaintive lyrics and acoustic presentation as the song is a wonderful track that conveys the melancholic behavior of Herman Blume (Bill Murray) in a scene where he has everything but is unhappy. The next two tracks are from Mark Mothersbaugh's film score. First is Sharp Little Guy is a fast, 43-second instrumental filled with chiming keyboards, xylophones, and guitars that is one of several music themes to Max and his unique world. The Lad With The Silver Button maintains that intense, fast score of chiming, whistling music with organs and guitars in a scene where Max meets and falls for the school's new kindergarten teacher Miss Cross (Olivia Williams). The classic Chad & Jeremy song A Summer Song in its lovely, folk-like presentation with amazing vocal harmonies and an orchestral accompaniment is a lovely track that emphasizes Max's crush for Miss Cross. While the song conveys a sense of nostalgia, it's a great song that definitely proves that it's still relevant during that era of rap-metal and teen-pop of the late 1990s.
Edward Appleby (In Memoriam) by Mark Mothersbaugh is another 43-second instrumental led by a harpsichord with harp plucks to convey the sense of melancholia as she is still saddened by the death of her late husband (played by Owen Wilson via photograph). Cat Stevens arrives with one of his earlier songs Here Comes My Baby with its chiming piano accompaniments and 60s pop instrumental background as Stevens sings this lovely song that brings together the trio of Max, Miss Cross, and Blume in all of their moments including a pep rally at Max's new public school. This song is a wonderful discovery as it shows what Cat Stevens was doing before his famous singer-songwriter era in the 1970s.
Next is a live version of A Quick One While He's Away from the band's 1970s live album Live At Leeds. While the version from the Rolling Stones' Rock N' Roll Circus in 1969 was used in the film, the classic mini-opera track from the Who about an extramarital affair is great piece that emphasizes the feud between Blume and Fischer for the affections of Miss Cross. Especially since the song in all of its angst through Pete Townshend's writing and guitar work with Keith Moon's frenetic drumming is amazing as the song changes tempo where its coda of "You are forgiven" is what was used in the film. Snowflake Music which appeared in Wes Anderson's 1995 debut film Bottle Rocket is another piece by Mark Mothersbaugh which is a 38-second instrumental with holiday chimes and melodic keyboard bells playing in the background to convey the sense of holiday in Max's world as well as the world of Dignan & Anthony in Bottle Rocket. Another Mothersbaugh piece comes in the instrumental Piranhas Are A Very Tricky Species which is essentially a percussion-based track filled with rollicking drums and percussions beating frenetically which is also used in other Anderson films to convey a sense of action.
Zoot Sims' Blinuet is a jazz, instrumental piece featuring the saxophonist playing nice jazz riffs through a smooth, mid-tempo presentation with pianos and drums as it's a track that conveys Max's love for Miss Cross during a drunken dinner with Mr. Blume. Mothersbaugh's Friends Like You, Who Needs Friends is an instrumental that is played during Max's expulsion from Rushmore as well as his dissolution with friend Dirk Calloway (Mason Gamble) who says the track's title line as the track features a dirge-like organ and pounding bass drum accompanied by holiday chimes. Rue St. Vincent by Yves Montand is a French ballad sung in French to convey the melancholic mood of Miss Cross as Max tries to discover her sadness as well as her breakup with Herman Blume. Kite Flying Society by Mark Mothersbaugh is another instrumental that features the same, chiming presentation with a looped organ accompaniment and harp plucks as the track conveys Max's new discovery in a girl named Margaret Yang (Sara Tanaka) through a remote-controlled airplane.
Cat Stevens' The Wind is one of Stevens' classic songs as its wonderfully soft, plaintive acoustic presentation and Stevens' soft voice conveys Max's growing development as a person while seeking redemption for things he's done wrong. John Lennon's Oh Yoko from Imagine is a wonderful, upbeat song with Phil Spector's amazing production in this wonderful love song from John to Yoko Ono as the song plays to Max's renewed friendship with Herman Blume as he helps him get his life on track as it's a wonderful song for the film and its use. The last song on the album is the Faces' Oh La La sung by Ron Wood is a wonderful acoustic-driven number from the band's final studio album of the same name.
Used for the film's end and final credits, it's a fitting closer with its wonderful, folk-like presentation as its' a wonderful sing-a-long song with its great chorus of "I wish that I knew what I know now". The album closer and final Mark Mothersbaugh instrumental Margaret Yang's Theme is a jazz-like theme with fast guitar plucks, washy pianos and accordions to mark the arrival of Miss Yang while the track is also played in the final credits. Not in the film's soundtrack that includes jazz cuts from Django Reinhardt and two other songs that appear in the film. First is Donovan's Jersey Thursday and the other is the Rolling Stones' I Am Waiting. The Stones' track is used to convey Fischer's melancholia but the reason the wonderful acoustic number isn't used was because a lot of the Stones' early music was not allowed to be on any film soundtracks due to legal reasons.
The soundtrack to Rushmore is truly one of the best film soundtracks of the 1990s and an essential soundtrack from the world of Wes Anderson. Fans of Anderson's films must have the soundtrack as its collection of British Invasion songs and Mark Mothersbaugh's lovely score is truly wonderful. With songs that will give a sense of nostalgia or maybe a memory of the film, it is a great mix of music as it has a wonderful energy of angst, romanticism, melancholia, and joy. In the end, the film soundtrack to Rushmore is a wonderful gem of great music assembled by auteur Wes Anderson.
Wes Anderson Soundtracks: Bottle Rocket - The Royal Tenenbaums - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Seu Jorge-The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions - The Darjeeling Limited - Fantastic Mr. Fox - (Moonrise Kingdom)
Wes Anderson Films: Bottle Rocket - Rushmore - The Royal Tenenbaums - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Hotel Chevalier - The Darjeeling Limited - Fantastic Mr. Fox - Moonrise Kingdom - The Auteurs #8: Wes Anderson
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