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February 19, 2013 4:31 AM   Subscribe

Silver Linings Playbook...when Pat and Tiffany first sit together in her studio and listen to music, it's Dylan's 'Girl From the North Country'. To me that was a curious choice. The song has a very personal resonance with me, but I can't really imagine Tiffany, a mid-twenties woman, loading that on the ipod. What do you think the purpose of using 'Girl From the North Country' in that particular scene was?
posted by j_curiouser to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
There are lots of mid-twenties women who listen to Bob Dylan. I'm one of them!
posted by ChuraChura at 4:34 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I really love that song," says Mr. Russell. "It plays through the whole montage of the two characters finally connecting and turning a corner; and it's counterintuitive because it's not a dance song; it's an emotional song. 'Girl From the North Country' is a big favorite of mine. I knew I wanted to use it in the film but I wasn't sure where. It's one of those songs that when you find where it fits—it's perfect."
From this WSJ article
posted by FreezBoy at 4:48 AM on February 19, 2013


I can't really imagine Tiffany, a mid-twenties woman, loading that on the ipod.

You've gotten your answer from the filmmaker, but a question for you - why wouldn't you think a woman in her 20's would get this song? Is it because of the age of the song, and you think someone as young as her wouldn't have heard it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:57 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, agreed nothing unusual about a mid twenties woman liking this song. There was a whole Dylan class at my college.
posted by sweetkid at 6:13 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


More anecdata: I was in love with this song most of my twenties, specifically this version, which is super fun to play on mandolin. I was so happy to hear it in this movie and it didn't seem out of place to me at all!
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:25 AM on February 19, 2013


There are a surprising number of 20somethings out there who do, in fact, listen to music that's out of their supposed age range.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:26 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you know any teens/young adults with ipods you would be amazed at how eclectic their musical choices often are on their playlists. For most people, music is almost free and having instant access to a wide variety via "shuffle" means older gems become favourites easily. As well, a mid-twenties girl was probably raised by parents now in their forties/fifties/early sixties who themselves listened to Bob Dylan when they were younger and probably played it to her as a child.
posted by saucysault at 6:49 AM on February 19, 2013


I first heard that song in my mid 20's and FELL IN LOVE. I enjoyed Dylan already (in fact I think I first got it from a Limewire search for "Bob Dylan"), but man, that song.

In fact, while I was already enjoying Silver Linings Playbook immensely prior to that scene, when it turned out they were using one of my favorite sorta-obscure songs as the first song Michael and Tiffany dance to, I was pretty sure this was going to be a great movie.

For background info on how a woman born in the 80's might come to love a weird old Dylan song:

- Grew up listening to classic rock, mainly because my parents grew up in the 60's and that's what they liked to listen to.

- Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits double CD in my stocking, Christmas 2000-ish (so I'd have been about 19). I remember also reading Positively 4th Street by David Hajdu around that time. I was on a Rock Biographies kick at the time and the cover looked really cool. I had also recently moved to New York and was gulping down just about any media about the city -- keep in mind Tiffany lives in the Philadelphia area, so she'll have had New York just over the horizon as The Cool Place her whole life.

- OMG BOB DYLAN HOW DID I NOT KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE BOB DYLAN OMG

- Randomly encountering that particular song, OMG THIS IS THE BEST SONG. Keeping it tucked back in my subconscious for years upon years as a Great Song.

Now my only fear is that, after that moment in Silver Linings Playbook, it's going to become one of those songs people dance to at weddings and is never heard in any other context.
posted by Sara C. at 7:54 AM on February 19, 2013


why wouldn't you think a woman in her 20's would get this song?
Easy now...that's not it - I think everyone in their twenties would get this song.

Is it because of the age of the song, and you think someone as young as her wouldn't have heard it?

Well yes. The album is kind of Dylan's one-off departure into deep country. Dylan never returned to that style and he continues to be casually known for his political tunes and personal ballads. I suppose with Pandora and all it's easier to discover gems like this.

I'd also venture to say that the twenty-ish crowd here on the Green is hardly a representative sample of 'what the kids are listening to'. Which is sweet.

keep in mind Tiffany lives in the Philadelphia area, so she'll have had New York just over the horizon as The Cool Place her whole life.
I think this has merit.

I advise everyone in the world to assign February as 'listen to Nashville Skyline end-to-end without interruption month'.

Thanks All!
posted by j_curiouser at 9:42 AM on February 19, 2013


In the novel Tiffany (J Law) is the same age as Pat (B Coop).

I think the other responses are more correct, this is just another possible explanation.
posted by troika at 10:10 AM on February 19, 2013


I don't think the issue is so much "what are the kids listening to these days" as much as "how do people discover music when there's a catalogue of stuff in the same basic pop/rock style going back 50 years". The old model of a generation gap where Old People like lame old timey music and Young People like groovy youth music is no longer relevant.

I also frankly don't think that someone in the 23-28 age range discovers or listens to music in a "kids these days" way. When I was a teenager, especially in my early teens, it was important that I listen to a lot of new artists and that my tastes didn't overlap much with my parents. My 20s was more about serendipitously discovering stuff I liked because I liked it, regardless of how old it was or who/what it was associated with. Maybe you're right that Mefites in their 20s aren't representative of the public at large, but most people I know (including plenty of people I'm not close to and who have very divergent tastes from mine) don't stay hooked on the New New New model of music taste into their mid 20s.

The only exception is people I know who get most of their music input from Top 40 radio. But I think even they have iPods full of random interesting stuff they like just because they like it.

I also got the sense that her character married very young, and was sort of old beyond her years. Not wise beyond her years obviously, but very much not in the "extended teenagerhood" model of being in your 20s. Watching the movie without knowing about the book, I assumed it was a comment on working class life. She got married straight out of high school, with no lingering childhood 4-year summer camp college existence. I also wonder if losing your husband very young doesn't age a person prematurely. You're not really in a "what are the cool bands right now" headspace anymore.

On preview: I also think that, for the film, they wanted to minimize the perception of the age gap between Lawrence and Cooper. I don't think Jennifer Lawrence is meant to be playing a young teenybopper, and giving her an iPod full of old music helps with that. If you think about it, they really don't show her being "young" or have any signifiers of youth around her. We know Jennifer Lawrence is in her early 20s, and that she more typically plays teenagers and very young women. But in the movie she could really be anywhere from about 20 to early 30s.
posted by Sara C. at 10:19 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought the choice of that song rang false as well, for what it's worth. I would have to watch the scene again to be able to articulate precisely why I felt that way, but that song for that character in that situation seemed like an odd choice.
posted by Kwine at 10:21 AM on February 19, 2013


Well yes. The album is kind of Dylan's one-off departure into deep country. Dylan never returned to that style and he continues to be casually known for his political tunes and personal ballads. I suppose with Pandora and all it's easier to discover gems like this.

Or, it's also possible that her parents were into Nashville Skyline and she grew up listening to it. Much like how 20-something-me in the 90's had heard of John Lee Hooker and Taj Mahal and Bo Diddley.

Kids hear the music their parents are listening to. Not all parents switch over to "all Raffi all the time".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on February 19, 2013


In the book Tiffany's character is in her mid to late 30s, while Pat (Bradley Cooper) is about 34, and I agree that there needed to be some minimizing of the age gap so the story wouldn't be seen as "fresh eyed ingenue teaches older guy about life" type thing. Also a lot of the dialogue is taken from the book so it makes sense that Tiffany should read older and be into "older" things.

Consider also the effect when the song choice is on-trend, like Natalie Portman's love of The Shins in Garden State. That character read more as an ingenue than an old soul or a person with a dark past, and the fact that she was obsessed with "New Slang" right when that song was popular underscored that. Also, it made her seem about 14, which threw me out of the story but that's another post.
posted by sweetkid at 10:44 AM on February 19, 2013


I'll also say that I didn't have any real awareness of "Girl From The North Country" being on Nashville Skyline as an album until very recently (when I bought a record player and discovered that it's easy to find old Dylan albums cheap at yard sales). Young people don't have that sense of "I own this record and these are the songs on it" or thinking of albums as Albums and having strong associations with each of the songs and its place in the lineup. Even though my teenagerhood was spent in the era of buying CDs, I really only have that "X song on Y album" association for specific albums I had as a teenager.

It's perfectly plausible that she heard the song on Pandora or in a or in yoga class, thought it was cool, and downloaded it. Or perhaps is a Dylan fan and torrented his whole discography.

I also find it interesting that nobody thinks it odd that a couple in their 30's would have had a Stevie Wonder song as their "song", but a woman in her 20's liking Bob Dylan rings totally false. Bob Dylan isn't some kind of big secret, and is up there with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as Permanently Cool (though I agree the specific song is obscure). Meanwhile Stevie Wonder is considered lame nowadays and would probably be HATED by people who were in high school in the early 90s.
posted by Sara C. at 10:44 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Haven't seen the movie, but I once dated a girl who loved the song. She's in her mid-20s now. I'm not sure where she is now. So if you happen to be traveling in the north country fair (where the winds hit heavy on the borderline), then remember me to one who lives there, for she was once a true love of mine.
posted by ageispolis at 1:50 PM on February 19, 2013


That 'My Cherie Amour' is uncool makes it more plausible that it would be someone's song, to me. I think a relationship song often comes from a singular or exclusive or private time and that a song that everyone likes or respects isn't necessarily conducive to that. 'Our song' is often a way to carve out space from the world just for your and your love.

It isn't that anyone of any age liking Bob Dylan rings false, it's that the song seemed shoehorned in. I didn't notice Freezboy's comment earlier, but I think this quote from Russell is important: "I wanted to use it in the film but I wasn't sure where. It's one of those songs that when you find where it fits—it's perfect."

If "I'm not sure where this song goes in the movie but definitely somewhere!" was Russell's attitude, it's not surprising that the fit was a bit off for me. Again, I'd have to watch the scene again to properly explain how I felt it didn't quite work.
posted by Kwine at 2:12 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


The song has a very personal resonance with me, but I can't really imagine Tiffany, a mid-twenties woman, loading that on the ipod.

I'm in my late 20s and I've owned that album since I was 15, and I know plenty of huge Dylan fans, male and female, of all ages. Including one who wrote an erotic poem about Dylan. And she's mentally ill, which, while I haven't seen the movie, I understand the character in Silver Linings Playbook is?

Well yes. The album is kind of Dylan's one-off departure into deep country.

Lots of the really popular indie music (I know that's an oxymoron) these days fits that aesthetic. Mumford & Sons are a Top 40 band. Bon Iver has recorded with Kanye West. So it's pretty current.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:41 PM on February 19, 2013


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