Jim Jarmusch’s relationship to music has always been as profound as the one he has with film-making. The soundtracks for his films are always wonderful and full of surprises. The music for his new film ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ is no exception.
The story takes place in Tangier and Detroit and the sounds reflect the different musical cultures and traditions of both locations.
With a hero who is an immortal vampire and an underground musician, the musical soundscapes of ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ are unique and of utterly rich hues.
The film’s soundtrack definitely has the director’s seal of approval. Jozef van Wissem, the Dutch avant garde musician and lutist, who has collaborated with Jarmusch on three albums, is credited as the soundtrack’s composer, while Jarmusch’s band SQÜRL (their debut ep was released in May) provide additional music. Apart from the original music on the soundtrack, throughout the film you can hear songs by a variety of artists from different eras, which clearly reflect the musical inspirations of both Jarmusch and his film’s hero.
Talking about the film’s soundtrack, Jarmusch explains: ‘Music is of primal importance for the film. It was composed by Jozef van Wissem, a historian of the lute, but also a guitarist and avant garde composer, with a well-defined rock and roll side. He is the main auteur of the film’s music. Additionally, Carter Logan, Shane Stoneback and I have a band called SQÜRL, and we’ve contributed to the film’s score, even though van Wissem called the shots’.
‘There are also some beautiful original songs heard in the film, some songs by Yasmine Hamdan, whom I admire. I fell in love with her music from the very first time I saw her perform in Morocco and I couldn’t believe what a wonderful creature and extraordinary musician she was. All her songs mean something to me. I really like Denise LaSalle’s RnB song ‘Trapped In this Thing Called Love’, which the film’s protagonists dance to in a crucial, sort of make-up scene in the film. And of course Wanda Jackson’s ‘Funnel of Love’ which we treated with a kind of remix, while preserving its main elements.’
‘Of course music couldn’t but have a central part in a film whose main hero is a musician. But music is very important to me anyway. All the vinyl albums that you see at the hero’s house didn’t make their way there by chance. Almost all of them are mine’.
These are the songs that appear on the film’s soundtrack:
- Funnel of Love – Wanda Jackson
- Harissa – Kasbah Rockers
- Caprice No. 5 in A Minor – Niccolò Paganini performef by Charles Yang
- Gamil – Y.A.S.
- Can’t Hardly Stand It – Charlie Feathers
- Trapped By A Thing Called Love -Denise LaSalle
- Soul Dracula -Hot Blood
- Under Skin Or By Name -White Hills
- Red Eyes And Tears – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
- Little Village – Bill Laswell
- Hal – Yasmine Hamdan
Below you can listen to more songs that can be heard in the film, and some additional songs by artists that appear on the soundtrack, as well as SQÜRL’s first single, and an edit from Jarmusch and van Wissem ‘The Mystery of Heaven’ album, featuring vocals by Tilda Swinton.