Songs inextricably tied to time and place
June 28, 2018 3:52 AM   Subscribe

If you're doing a film about New York in the 1920s it will 100% have Gershwins Rhapsody in Blue over it. If you're doing a Vietnam War establishing shot it's Gimme Shelter or Fortunate Son. What other songs are so closely linked to a specific time and place?
posted by Just this guy, y'know to Media & Arts (35 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
For the UK in WWII one might hear Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again or (There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover; or Glenn Miller's In the Mood or Moonlight Serenade.
posted by misteraitch at 4:16 AM on June 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


I can't think of one; wait, Oh Yeah I can -- bits of this tune bobbed to the service whenever some investment banker or his/her nemesis looked like they were about to get some in a late 80s capitalistic-exploitation flick.
posted by randomkeystrike at 4:36 AM on June 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Best answer: Something tells me you'd like this section of TV Tropes.
posted by randomkeystrike at 4:40 AM on June 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Best answer: And more specifically, Standard Snippet.
posted by zamboni at 4:52 AM on June 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Thanks - knew it had to be there; couldn't find it.
posted by randomkeystrike at 4:53 AM on June 28, 2018


For the Great Depression in the US: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
Over There was written during WWI.
Praise the Lord and Pass the Amuniton was a WWII song.
Two Brothers is iconic for the Civil War and is often thought to be a folk song but was written by Irving Gordon in the 20th century.
posted by Botanizer at 5:19 AM on June 28, 2018


If You're Going To San Francisco, for the late 60s hippy scene.
posted by Catseye at 5:25 AM on June 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


In the last 20 years, I think I've seen this specific lazy shot and music choice in at least four separate movies:

EXT. HEATHROW AIRPORT - DAY

CUT TO: A JUMBO JET comes in for a landing, CAMERA PANS to the logo on the plane's TAIL solely for the sake of PRODUCT PLACEMENT.

MUSIC CUE: The Clash, "London Calling"


posted by Strange Interlude at 5:42 AM on June 28, 2018 [20 favorites]


If You're Going To San Francisco, for the late 60s hippy scene.

Also California Dreamin' (west coast) and Goin' Up the Country (East Coast)
posted by jessamyn at 6:29 AM on June 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


If the film takes place in a certain New England city it’s a fair bet you’ll hear Dropkick Murphy’s Shipping up to Boston.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 6:43 AM on June 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


C+C Music Factory Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) - for every early 90's club scene, or ironic take off.
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 6:54 AM on June 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


Carl Orff "O Fortuna": whenever your medieval army of horses and helms assembles and starts to gallop.
posted by bendybendy at 6:58 AM on June 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


Thanks - knew it had to be there; couldn't find it.

*Tag Team's Whoomp! (There It Is) starts playing*

whenever your medieval army of horses and helms assembles and starts to gallop.

That's not really a specific time and place, though. O Fortuna can also cover High drama, movie trailers, video game final bosses, demons being summoned, cavalry charges, revealed castles (with lightning) and singing contests...
posted by zamboni at 7:09 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


For the 80's: one of these.

"Take On Me" by A-ha
"Walking On Sunshine", Katrina And the Waves
"True", by Spandau Ballet (if it's a love scene)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 AM on June 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Aerosmith's Sweet Emotion and Led Zeppelin's Ramble On both seem like they get a seems like it gets a lot of play in movies about American teenagers in the 1970s.

Also, to add to EmpressCallipygos' excellent 1980s list: "Don't Dream it's Over" by Crowded House.
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:13 AM on June 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


We Gotta Get out of This Place

"During 2006 two University of Wisconsin–Madison employees, one a Vietnam veteran, began an in-depth survey of hundreds of Vietnam veterans, and found that "We Gotta Get out of This Place" had resonated the strongest among all the music popular then: "We had absolute unanimity is this song being the touchstone. This was the Vietnam anthem. Every bad band that ever played in an armed forces club had to play this song."[16]"
posted by Fukiyama at 7:31 AM on June 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


For 1950s small town America, Mr. Sandman.

And although it's not linked to any particular time, if you have an establishing shot of London, you are morally obligated to play Rule Britannia. I've lived in London for 15 years, and thanks to the wonders of Pavlovian conditioning, I hear that song in my head every time I see Big Ben.
posted by yankeefog at 7:34 AM on June 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


Buffalo Springfield’s For What it’s Worth (Stop, hey, what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down...) also appears in a bunch of Vietnam era movies.
posted by Weeping_angel at 7:47 AM on June 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


Or if you're in the 80's in a Midwestern American small town, it's Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen or Little Pink Houses by John Mellencamp.
posted by backwards compatible at 7:48 AM on June 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


50s Paris nightclub: La Vie en Rose
posted by I claim sanctuary at 7:49 AM on June 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


anything Paris: wheezy accordion...
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 7:52 AM on June 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Any movie about the Swing era must feature Sing, Sing, Sing.
posted by lunasol at 7:54 AM on June 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


Also, I feel like "I Feel Love" has been used in a lot of movies and TV shows as a shorthand for "Disco Days."
posted by lunasol at 7:58 AM on June 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Any movie or TV show scene featuring a lone burglar - especially "period" pieces or British ones, but not only those - will always have The Thieving Magpie playing over it.
posted by MiraK at 8:17 AM on June 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: Wait, what's that tiptoes sneaky one that you get sometimes?
I think it's not actually this one it's the more suspenseful dun dun dun dun daaaaa. one?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 9:32 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


The tiptoes sneaky one is 'Mysterioso Pizzicato'.
posted by mdrew at 10:04 AM on June 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


For the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S., during the 1950s and the 1960s: We Shall Overcome.
posted by merejane at 10:42 AM on June 28, 2018


If you're looking for audio tied to, umm, NOW, a lot of Kevin MacLeod's compositions at Incompetech get used in YouTube videos, podcasts, games and even CBC shows.

Monkeys Spinning Monkeys
Sneaky Snitch
Scheming Weasel
Fluffing a Duck

More here.
posted by maudlin at 10:47 AM on June 28, 2018


For establishing shot music for France, especially Paris: La Marseillaise.

For the US rural south, Dueling Banjos.

Googling for this, I found this website where you can buy pre-made establishing shots for your own project. Who Knew?

For New Orleans, When The Saints Go Marching In.

In times past, I Left My Heart In San Francisco for the City by the Bay.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:09 AM on June 28, 2018


For the Great Depression in the US: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Also, Gershwin's 2nd Prelude for Piano... and then, later in the decade, when things are looking up, Happy Days Are Here Again!
posted by Rash at 1:14 PM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


anything Paris: wheezy accordion...

playing: Under Paris Skies, or La Vie En Rose.
posted by Rash at 1:25 PM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


China during the Cultural Revolution: The East Is Red
posted by Rash at 1:51 PM on June 28, 2018


Another 80s suggestion: "Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds.
posted by 4ster at 9:00 PM on June 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Scott Joplin - Anything turn-of-the-20th-Century in America. Specifically The Entertainer and Maple Leaf Rag.

O Sole Mio - Scenes on the Venetian Canals or in western Italian Restaurants.

Old West - Ennio Morricone's theme to "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly".
posted by ApathyGirl at 11:20 AM on June 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Douchey club scenes and that “What is love, baby don’t hurt me” song.
posted by panama joe at 4:50 AM on June 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


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