14 Songs With Cinematic Potential

By Karys McEwen in Culture / 4256 views / February 19, 2013

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!”

Nick Cave includes the titles of author and screenwriter to his hefty resume, so he’s a clear stand-out for a musician with cinematic capabilities from the get-go. “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” would be a biblical comedy, set in modern-day New York City. It would most likely star Will Ferrell. Or Steve Carell.

The Kinks – “Lola”

The Kinks may be known for their observational commentary on the state of English society, but if we had to pick one of their tunes to put to celluloid, it’d have to be “Lola”. Sassy, and with some seriously sexy stubble, she’d be the finest drag queen to grace the silver screen since Hugo Weaving.

Paul Kelly – “When I First Met Your Ma”

Australian songsmith Paul Kelly is a no-brainer for this list: pretty much any of his deeply personal tunes could be the makings of an award-winning film. He uses detail and character to stir our senses and address the universality of what may otherwise be mundane. And if you think about it, the idea behind this particular song has already sparked a wildly successful American TV show anyway. We’re onto you, Ted Mosby.

Bright Eyes – “Light Pollution”

This busy electronic track sees Conor Oberst set a brilliantly sad character sketch about a friend who loaned him books and mic stands, and triumphed in spirit even though his efforts were futile. With all the makings of an larger-than-life masterpiece, the film version would follow one man’s fight against a harsh, corporate world. And we’d all weep into our popcorn during the crushing final scene.

David Bowie – “Space Oddity”

Picture the camera panning in on Major Tom, sitting in his tin can far above the world, feeling a bit down in the dumps. It’s cinematic gold. We can only hope some brilliantly bonkers director picks this up and takes the Stanley Kubrick challenge of creating the most madcap space film of all time.

Grizzly Bear – “While You Wait For the Others”

“While You Wait For The Others” would be a 500 Days of Summer style one-sided romance, with a gritty twist and far more poetic, clever quips. Someone will die, and it’ll be filmed with a kind of sombre monochrome filter. Another definite tearjerker.

Johnny Cash – “A Boy Named Sue”

Johnny Cash’s wise-country persona lent itself naturally to storytelling, and perhaps his best chronicle was that of poor old Sue; a man with a terribly unfortunate name, bestowed by his deadbeat father. The weighty, witty lyrics would make for a terrific coming-of-age with a moral to the story and a happy ending.

Jay-Z – “Run This Town”

Thanks to a Rihanna chorus, “Run This Town” verges into pop without compromising Jay’s rudimentary hardness. A film version would probably follow this sentiment, and to comparable success: we’re imagining an audience-friendly post-apocalyptic journey at the core, with deeper elements of social and political commentary.

The Libertines – “What Katie Did”

Wrongly assumed to be about Pete Doherty and Kate Moss’s relationship (turns out he dated another Kate which led to this tune), we still like to fantasise about the makings of a Kate Moss addiction-epic. Because let’s face it, we ALL want to know what Katie really did.

Tom Waits – “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis”

The saddest Christmas song ever could certainly lead to the saddest Christmas movie ever. This track would make for a tear-jerking festive tale that could dispute even the likes of Home Alone (what!? The part where he drops all his groceries is totally sob-worthy!).

Belle and Sebastian – “We Rule The School”

Directed by Sofia Coppola, “We Rule The School” would be about nothing and everything. It would be the cinema experience to beat all cinema experiences, with a killer soundtrack and starring the most beautiful pixie-actresses and dapper gents. You’d leave the cinema feeling perplexed, calm and bittersweet. And more than anything: you’d want to go out and make great art yourself.

Cher – “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding in film format, this would make for the perfect omnibus flick combining the chronicles of travellers and their families into one Love Actually-style mega plot. Gypsies seem to be having a moment in popular culture, so surely there’s one director willing to jump on the zeitgeist that Cher predicted many moons ago.

Taylor Swift – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

Taylor Swift may be coping some serious flack for her love life at the moment, but truth be told her romantic woes would be the basis for some pretty kick-arse rom-coms. Kind of like Groundhog Day but for couples, we’d see the two main characters of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” try to fight through their differences, but continue to break-up and make-up in an unhappy cycle of spiralling dysfunctional behaviour. Then they’d finally get back together (despite previous protests), have beautiful gold-haired babies and live in Nashville happily ever after. It would be the ultimate girls night rental.

Bob Dylan – “Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack of Hearts”

Bob Dylan is another whose story-songs make it hard for us to single out one great film-inspiring track. But pushed to make a decision and we’d pick this fine yam. It would be a Western, of course, and would follow the characters being progressively lured in by the charms of the “Jack of Hearts”.

With such serious cinematic sweep, we imagine the film adaptation of this song would have audiences queuing up for days for tickets. And before you cast this off as a far-away hope, according to some sources Dylan did indeed try to get a screenplay off the ground at several points but to no avail. Let’s hope he keeps on trying.

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One Response to 14 Songs With Cinematic Potential

Rigoberto Saperstein

Art Deco – Design for the Modern Age Art Deco, popular originally in the 1920s and 30s, took its name from the Exposition Internationale des Arts D et Industriels Modernes, an exhibition.

April 27, 2013 | 12:03 am

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