Songs For An Imaginary Wes Anderson Movie

NPR recently did a feature on how the “Moonrise Kingdom” director develops his amazing, moody soundtracks. The “Wes Anderson sound” is impossible to nail down to one era or genre alone, although a healthy dose of forgotten or under-appreciated ’60s-’70s rockers is a requirement… Mostly, though, all of his soundtracks share a certain, specific je ne sais quoi that I wanted to try to recreate for my fantasy soundtrack.

1. Good Times - The Easy Beats

Luke Wilson, a security officer for a local shopping center, is introduced with a shoplifter chase. The shoplifter is his wife, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg.

2. Here Comes My Girl - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Jason Schwartzman spots a beautiful girl with an unfortunate but charming facial twitch and a gap between her two front teeth.

3. My Little Corner Of The World - Anita Bryant

Charlotte Gainsbourg tells Luke Wilson she wants a divorce. She is leaving him for her longstanding lover, played by Ben Kingsley. He recalls their early days together.

4. Black Sheep Boy - Tim Hardin

A montage of Bill Murray cooking a fish inside his Antarctic igloo.

5. You Turn Me On, I’m A Radio - Joni Mitchell

In her Anderson debut, Zooey Deschanel plays the sister of Luke Wilson and the daughter of Bill Murray. She spends all of her time carving birds and maps onto vinyl records for the dozen bearded men she is having torrid affairs with. She is carving on this .45 as the song plays.

6. I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You - Bee Gees

Owen Wilson travels down a river on a giant pink inflatable floatie, trying desperately to reach the nearest post office to receive his latest gift from Zooey.

7. I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City - Nilsson

Bill Murray finally returns to his home in New York City after four years in the Antarctic circle. He strolls Central Park with two pairs of twins that he has apparently started nannying for a living.

8. Hope She’ll Be Happier - Bill Withers

Luke Wilson has given his cat away — to his ex and her new husband. She had always liked the cat, but he really thought she’d insist he keep it, but appreciate the gesture. He was wrong — she took the cat, and now he’s walking home, wringing out his empty cat-less hands.

Note: this video is super long because it has an interview, but the relevant song is at the beginning.

9. Love Is Blue - Claudine Longet

One of the twins unravels his red sweater vest while spinning around in circles; elsewhere, Zooey Deschanel breaks Owen Wilson’s heart, via vinyl postcard.

10. We Can Work It Out - Stevie Wonder

An lamp-lit game of checkers ends up costing Bill Murray a thousand dollars and his sense of self-worth.

11. Here Comes The Summer - The Undertones

After Luke Wilson’s cat is released by his ex-wife’s evil husband, he is walking along the beach calling it’s name. Zooey builds a sandcastle in the distance. The cat emerges from the sand dunes and the two are reunited. Zooey’s sandcastle is exquisite.

12. Love Is All - The Tallest Man On Earth

Someone discovers Buddhism.

13. Carol Ann - Soft Machine

A funeral for Luke Wilson’s cat brings everyone together.

14. That’s Us / Wild Combination - Arthur Russell

An impromptu dance party breaks out at the local YMCA, Luke and a mysterious stranger boogie awkwardly and fall in love.

15. Altogether - Styrofoam

The credits roll, after slow motion walking happens.

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