Way Back 2019

July 25, 2019 - Breaking Down and Plugging the Music of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Writer-director Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and a who's-who of top-rank actors, runs two hours and 41 minutes and features about two dozen musical selections from the film's 1969 setting and several years prior. Hits of that year include "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" by The Bob Seger System, "Son of a Lovin' Man" by The Buchanan Brothers (actually nonfamilial musicians Terry Cashman, Tommy West and Gene Pistilli), "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show" by Neil Diamond and "Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon," one of three by Paul Revere and the Raiders with the earlier "Hungry" and "Good Thing." In addition, British hard rock band Deep Purple has two top 40 singles on the soundtrack: "Hush" and a cover of Diamond's "Kentucky Woman."

Other diverse 1968 selections further heighten the dymanic appeal of Once Upon a Time: "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon and Garfunkel, "Bring a Little Lovin'" by Spanish band Los Bravos, Memphis-based quintet The Box Tops' "Choo Choo Train," Jose Feliciano's "Light My Fire" flip "California Dreamin'," the psychedelic Motown-meets-Long Island sound of Vanilla Fudge in a special Tarantino-produced edit of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and "Hector," a zany instrumental/spoken jam by The Village Callers, one of L.A.'s notorious Eastside groups. Summer '67 is represented by Buffy Sainte-Marie's take on the Joni Mitchell-penned "The Circle Game," while The Mamas and the Papas provide the flavor from 1966 with "Straight Shooter," preceded by two '65 smashes, "Treat Her Right" by Roy Head and the Traits and "Jenny Take a Ride!" by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, finally winding up with Dee Clark's 1959 Diddley-dancer "Hey Little Girl."

Beyond all this, the movie has many esoteric and/or nostalgic songs and sound bites sprinkled throughout, including weird movie tunes "Paxton Quigley's Had the Course" by Chad and Jeremy (from Three in the Attic), "Don't Chase Me Around" by Robert Corff (top-billed star of director Roger Corman's Gas-s-s-s), the theme from Dinamite Jim by Alessandro Alessandroni and his group I Cantori Moderni, moving past the other end chronologically (1972!?) with "Miss Lily Langtree" by Maurice Jarre (from The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean). Vintage commercials are wedged in along with airchecks of 93/KHJ radio Boss Jocks Humble Harve and The Real Don Steele. Everything mentioned above (except one or two missing songs...licensing snafu?) is packed into the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood soundtrack album...go get it!

Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon Kentucky Woman Treat Her Right Hey Little Girl