Saturday, January 31, 2009

The official soundtrack listing for the Watchmen film has debuted on iTunes

and I like it. I like it a lot, in fact. It seems that they've managed to include a version of every song referenced in the book except for Elvis Costello's "The Comedians," which in my opinion is not a very fantastic song anyway. A few of the versions included (those of the Dylan songs Moore cites) are covers, and that is going to be divisive to some, especially regarding the first track...

1. My Chemical Romance - Desolation Row
2. Nat "King" Cole - Unforgettable
3. Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changin'
4. Simon & Garfunkel - The Sound of Silence
5. Janis Joplin - Me & Bobby McGee
6. KC & The Sunshine Band - I'm Your Boogie Man
7. Billie Holiday - You're My Thrill
8. Philip Glass - Pruit Igoe & Prophecies
9. Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah
10. Jimi Hendrix - All Along the Watchtower
11. Budapest Symphony Orchestra - Ride of the Valkyries
12. Nina Simone - Pirate Jenny

So, okay. Pretty much no one is going to argue with the Hendrix version of "All Along the Watchtower." Lots of people think he made that song better. I do not, but I like his version all the same and I could see where one would not necessarily want three songs sung by Bob Dylan on the same soundtrack, so the lack of Dylan's "Watchtower" is no biggie. But My Chemical Romance covering "Desolation Row"... hm.

Early internet reaction to the song seems very negative. This is doubly understandable because a lot of people hate My Chemical Romance, and because their version of the song is a total 180 from Dylan's. When I listened to the preview clip on iTunes I hated it too, but I decided to download the song anyway to listen to the whole thing, just to be sure.

And you know what... in my opinion, it's not that bad. Yes it is totally different from Dylan's. It is definitely MCRed-up. But I can see getting used to it. The song is going to play over the end credits of the movie and that's a fine place for it because then you don't have to pay attention but you can. And I get the feeling that the mood of the song is going to fit well with whatever changes Zack Snyder & co. have in store for the end of the movie. But you know, I like My Chemical Romance anyway; I think Gerard Way is a fantastic comic-book writer (one of these days I will do a post on that) and I thought the band's Black Parade album was a great mash-up of Pink Floyd, Queen, and Meatloaf. So I guess I have a positive bias here. You can preview the video and start to make a decision for yourself; I'm guessing you will probably hate it:

But, even given my semi-like for the cover, it does not compare to the original. SO here's what I'm going to do, and I recommend you follow suit. If you buy the Watchmen soundtrack, download the original "Desolation Row" from Dylan seperately. Then re-order the songs on the soundtrack so Dylan's version is the first track you hear, and My Chemical Romance's the last. That way you have the option of more easily ignoring the MCR version of the song, just like you will in the theater. But the commercial appeal of putting a super-popular band's new single front and center on the soundtrack album is pretty clear, so I'm not mad that Warner Bros. did it. I assume they won't be mad when I tweak the album for my own personal enjoyment.

As for the non-Dylan parts on the disc, I definitely approve. It seems the songs included here that were not quoted by Moore still fit both the period of the music he's referencing and its mood very, very well, such as Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" and Nat Cole's "Unforgettable." To me, the soundtrack listing is the result of someone really thinking about the music, and that makes me happy. As a result I shall purchase this and, hopefully, enjoy it. And that is kind of my sentiment towards the Watchmen movie as a whole.

1 comment:

Matt Heckler said...

I think its right to say that Jimi Hendrix made "All Along the Watchtower" a better song, but Bob Dylan plays Hendrix's version of the song cooler, if that makes sense. If you look up a post-Hendrix live version of the track, Dylan plays it the way Hendrix did nowadays, and its pretty bitchin'.