AVC: You mentioned talking to Richard Linklater and Caveh Zahedi about your ideas on movie music. Can you summarize those ideas?
WO: Well, for a while, it seemed like you were always seeing movies where all the music was determined by the music supervisors and their special relationships with certain record labels. And I just felt like, “Wow, I’ll bet they spent months or years writing this screenplay, and I’ll bet they spent months shooting this, and I’ll bet they spent months editing this, and now they’re spending no time at all picking these completely inappropriate songs with lyrics to put under a scene that has dialogue.” How does that even work? How can you have a song with someone singing lyrics under spoken dialogue and consider that mood-music, or supportive of the storyline? As somebody who likes music, when that happens, I tend to listen to the lyrics, which have nothing to do with the movie. And then I’m lost in the storyline. Not only is that a crime, but it’s a crime not to give people who are good at making music for movies the work. It’s like saying, “We don’t need you, even though you’re so much better at it than I am as a music supervisor.” Like the cancer that is that Darjeeling guy… what’s his name?
AVC: Wes Anderson?
WO: Yeah. His completely cancerous approach to using music is basically, “Here’s my iPod on shuffle, and here’s my movie.” The two are just thrown together. People are constantly contacting me saying, “I’ve been editing my movie, and I’ve been using your song in the editing process. What would it take to license the song?” And for me it’s like, “Regardless of what you’ve been doing, my song doesn’t belong in your movie.” That’s where the conversation should end. Music should be made for movies, you know?
This is an excerpt from an interview that the Onion's AV Club did with Will Oldham, otherwise known as Bonnie "Prince" Billy. It's currently bothering the hell out of me.
Other than calling Wes Anderson a "cancer," which seems completely unnecessary (and is flat-out something I disagree with, as I love his movies pretty much unanimously, especially Rushmore), the thing that's bothering me the most about this is the derisive tone that he's taken towards using music in movies.
Let's go over this for a second. To me, it seems like Oldham is completely against the selection of already-created songs for movies, suggesting that all music included in films should be created expressly for that purpose. I guess I see the point that he's trying to make: if you listen exclusively to the lyrics of the song instead of trying to get the entire context of the given scene, everything may not match up.
With that being said though, music in film, whether used diagetically or not, has created unforgettable moments in thousands of movies over the years. Oldham really just comes off as an elitist, and again, I understand that he might not want his own music licensed for use in films, but it certainly sounds a lot like he thinks that he's better than licensing his work, and, well, he's not.
I've got a lot more to say about this, but I really feel like I might pass out from exhaustion, so maybe I'll update this one a bit later. In the meantime, even though I do like Will Oldham, here are some of my favorite uses of other people's music by Wes Anderson, all by artists that (more than likely) I like better than Will Oldham. Suck it, Will!
*Iggy Pop (aaaaaaaaaaaaamen!)
*The Kinks (complete with obligatory Wes Anderson underwater shot)