Thursday, March 05, 2009

Novel Sndtrck: Watchmen (Music from the Graphic Novel)

Since perception of the classic graphic novel Watchmen will be changed forever starting tomorrow (thanks to the so-so adaptation hitting theaters,) I thought I'd revisit a novel soundtrack project I had of the comic from a couple years back.

The source material was famous for putting a quote at the end of each issue/chapter, with much of these being song lyrics. Bob Dylan songs were used for two of the chapters (I and X) the most important of these being the 11-minute "Desolation Row" (which is unfortunately butchered by My Chemical Romance for the film's closing credits). Others included songs from Elvis Costello ("The Comedians," Chapter II) and John Cale ("Sanities," Chapter XII). Creators Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons also sprinkled diegetic use of music throughout as well, most notably with the Owl Ship rescue scene and the use of Billie Holliday's "You're My Thrill," which, when combined with the empowering rescue, worked as foreplay for Silk Spectre and Night Owl's later romp in the air.

The other notable diegetic use has Iggy Pop's menacing "Neighborhood Threat" playing early in the series, blasting from the boombox of Knot-Top character named Derf. "Look down your back stairs, buddy..." sings Iggy, foreshadowing Dan coming home to find his house broken into by Rorshach.

The chapter and title uses, while they work lyrically with the story, don't necessarily correspond musically with the tone of the comic, so they're best as a reference and not a literal backing track. The film adaptation, which I haven't seen yet, seems to be pushing some of these songs literally into the universe, which is I'm guessing is a mistake (especially after hearing the not-so-subtle score from Tyler Bates). But more on that in a post to come. Below are the musical cues from the novel.

Playlist: Novel Sndtrck: Watchmen
1. "Desolation Row" - Bob Dylan - (Chapter I title and closing quotes from song)
2. "Neighborhood Threat" - Iggy Pop - plays from a boombox as Dan walks home from meeting with Hollis (Chapter I, Page 10, Panel 1)
3. "Ride of the Valkyries" - Richard Wagner - mentioned in the excerpt from Hollis' autobiography (supplemental end of Chapter I)
4. "The Comedians" - Elvis Costello - (Chapter II end quote)
5. "Walking on the Moon" - The Police - sung by a soldier painting a sign on Dr. Manhattan's door (Chapter III, Page 19, Panel 1)
6. "Jocko Homo" - Devo - Laurie references when Dan says he 'looks Devo' (Chapter VII, Page 10, Panels 2-3)
7. "Unforgettable" - Nat King Cole - song used in ad for Ozymandius' perfume Nostalgia (Chapter VII, Page 13, Panels 8-9)
8. "You're My Thrill" - Billie Holliday - blasted from the Owl Ship during rescue (Chapter VII, Pages 25, Panel 7, Page 26 Panels 1-4, 7)
9. "All Along the Watchtower" - Bob Dylan - (Chapter X title and end quote)
10. "The Times They Are A-Changin'" - Bob Dylan - print ad for Nostalgia perfume (Chapter XI supplemental interview with Veidt)
11. "Sanities" - John Cale - (Chapter XII title and end quote)

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