Pulp Fiction Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
I enjoy watching movies, but of all the movies I’ve seen, there are only about 30 that I love them just as much every time I watch them. Pulp Fiction is one of those movies. The non-linear story line paired with the witty dialog, paired with the use of music throughout the movies as an enhancement to the storytelling. There are maybe 5 movies where, in my believe, the movie wouldn’t be the same with a different soundtrack, and Pulp Fiction is probably the most essential of those movies.
The soundtrack, much like the movie, starts off with dialog between Pumpkin and Honey Bunny about the potential for a big haul if they begin robbing restaurants. Following the legendary line “everybody be cool, this is a robbery/any of you fucking pigs move and I’ll execute every mother fucking last one of ya”, the soundtrack proper begins with the equally legendary “Misirlou” by Dick Dale. Misirlou is one of the few instrumental songs that I actually like and can listen to repeatedly without getting bored. Without this soundtrack, I may have never even bothered to listen to the song.
Next up comes the dialog track regarding the little differences between restaurants in Europe and the United States. I most definitely would not own the next track, “Jungle Boogie” were it not for this album. What can I say, disco just isn’t my thing.
What is my thing, however, is Dusty Springfield doing one of her most famous songs, “Son of a Preacher Man”. This song comes in during the scene where Vincent enter’s Marcellus Wallace’s house in order to take his wife, Mia, out for the evening. In the scene, Mia is still preparing for their night out, but music is playing over the house’s speaker system. She announces to Vincent that she’ll be right down. This song is my most played track from this soundtrack, originally released on the immortal album Dusty in Memphis. The song oozes sexy, telling a story of remembering a childhood where the preacher’s son and the person telling the story explore each other’s bodies.
The next story includes probably my favorite tale to tell about Pulp Fiction. When Vincent and Mia arrive at the location for their evening out, the restaurant, Jack Rabbit Slim’s, a Ed Sullivan impersonator announces that the restaurant will be hosting a twist contest. Mia raises her hand, reminds Vincent that his boss (her husband) told her that the was to have a good time, and she instructs Vincent that she wanted the trophy. With Vincent acceding to her request, the two proceed to dance. Thankfully, the announcement of the twist contest, coupled with the song to which Vincent and Mia dance, are included as one flowing track on the soundtrack. The song, Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell”, was released in 1964 (making it 50 years old last month), and was his last top for hit until 1971’s “My Ding-a-Ling”. The dance, the batusi, from the 1960’s television series Batman. Brilliant, Mr. Tarantino, and thank you.
After the twist contest, Vincent and Mia head back to her place with the twist contest trophy. Once back inside, Mia puts on a reel to reel of “Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon” as covered by Urge Overkill. This song was probably the biggest hit from the soundtrack, as a new composition, it was the catalyst for promoting the album via the radio by getting a song put into regular rotation on alternative stations across the country. This version of the song even peaked at number 59 on the Billboard Hot 100. And all for a song originally written and recorded by Neil Diamond.
The last musical piece which I like from the soundtrack is The Statler Brothers song “Flowers on the Wall”, which is on the radio when Butch is driving back to his house and accelerates to hit Marcellus Wallace, the man whom he swindled when he asked to throw a boxing match. This is another song for which I wouldn’t be aware were it not for this soundtrack. Butch sings along to the line “smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo”.
Just because the above track was the lst musical piece I liked from the soundtrack doesn’t mean that it’s the last track I like. There are two more tracks, each involving monologues by Samuel L. Jackson’s character Jules. The first appears near the end of the film, although as far as the timeline goes, the scene takes place just before the Pumpkin and Honey Bunny dialogue. Jules explains why he doesn’t eat pig because they’re filthy animals. He explains that other animals aren’t considered to be food because they have personality. Quentin Tarantino did a fantastic job writing this scene, as it does a pretty good job making the argument that pig is a gross animal to consume.
Now, I’ve been a vegetarian for approximately 7 of the last 8 years (there was a period of time where I was losing a lot of weight and grudgingly gave it up in order to put on some weight), but my rationale for not eating pig is not for this reason. I think they taste too salty. However, this scene may be responsible for causing other people to think twice about eating pig, but I still say congratulations to those who have.
The final track on the album is merely a religious quote used by Jules immediately before he carries out hits on people at the behest of Marcellus. The passage he quotes is Ezekiel 25:17, which according to research, has the exact quote taken from a samurai movie as opposed to from the actual passage. Cinematically, the track takes place within about 10 minutes of the “Royale with Cheese” dialogue, but I believe it’s the last track on the album for two reasons. One, it’s bad ass to have the bone chilling reading be the last thing you hear on the soundtrack. But more importantly, Jules faces a certain amount of growth at the restaurant, where he is trying real hard to be the shepherd.
Quentin Tarantino has made a career for himself by making engaging movies that feature a balance between action, subject matter, and dialogue. Pulp Fiction was nominated for five Academy Awards, including for Best Picture. It lost that year to Forest Gump. Pulp Fiction is Tarantino’s most successful work, but he has enjoyed a career that includes Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds. If nothing else, the Pulp Fiction soundtrack is responsible for introducing impressionable teenagers to songs by Dick Dale, The Statler Brothers, and/or Dusty Springfield.