Thursday, November 13, 2008

That LIVE Song from "Zach and Miri Make a Porno"

Last night I finally went to see writer/director Kevin Smith's newest movie "Zach and Miri Make a Porno," which was released on October 31. I had been wanting to see it, but was a little hesitant because I had only heard "eh, it's alright" reviews. But I ended up really enjoying must know I am an easy laugh when it comes to pseudo-intellectual comedies (from Knocked Up to Spinal Tap to Caddyshack to Old School) so keep that in mind as you read the following. With that being said, the reason I bring up my over-active funnybone is actually to discusss the music in the film.

For starters, I love dissecting how a director uses various songs against the canvas of a movie or TV show. When I leave a movie without thinking, "What was that song in the one scene..." I'm usually left with a *blah* feeling about the whole experience. A well-placed tune, for me, represents a perfect storm of visual, auditory and emotional stimulation. Exceptional marriages of film and song can be amazing like, "Tiny Dancer" in Almost Famous or "Canned Heat" at the end of Napolean Dynamite. Luckily, there was one such song, ("Lift Me Up" by Live) employed expertly by Kevin Smith, during Zach and Miri.

During this particular scene, it comes time for Zach (Seth Rogen) to have sex with Miri (Elizabeth Banks) on top of a pile of coffee bean sacks (no pun intended). Now, I think that we can all agree that there are two distinct types of sex in film: 1) Rougher, devoid of emotion screwing/fucking and 2) Softer, sensual love making. I think it's fair to say that the music played during said coitus has a significant role in determining which type of sex the audience is seeing or is being conveyed off-screen. This is exactly why the use of Live's "Lift Me Up" was so perfect. Instead of seeming like Zach and Miri were simply screwing for money to pay their past-due bills in an emotionless porno, the lyrics ("I'll lift you up, we can love or cry / Hey, I'm in love, I'll take you up again / Your eyes have too many colors and I can only try") and the manner in which it goes back and forth between rock balladry and arena rock made the scene feel like two human beings actually making love.

After doing a bit of research, the song was a demo during the Throwing Copper (1994) recording sessions, and somehow didn't make the cut. On an album that sold 8 million copies, I can't make the argument it was sorely missed. This song works on a number of levels in the movie. The band Live are from York, PA which is only 200 miles due east of Monroeville (suburb of Pittsburgh) where the movie was shot and takes place. In addition, I have to think Kevin Smith has serious clout to get an unreleased song from 14 years ago into a movie (n.b. it somehow didn't make it onto the official soundtrack, and therefor will remain unreleased).

In summation, "Lift Me Up" was an excellent song choice for Zach and Miri's sex scene. It's a mostly unknown song by a band that is local to the location of the movie, it hits all the right lyrical and emotional buttons, and really puts a stamp on the scene to scream "THIS IS CENTRAL TO THE PLOT". It goes to show that excellent song choices in movies and TV can have a dramatic effect on the storytelling but also the emotional connection to the audience. When a great song like this is chosen you can't imagine the scene happening without it, nor could you think of a better musical selection in its place. Below is the best version of the song I was able to find. Enjoy.

"Lift Me Up"

P.S. you can now buy a Monroeville Zombies t-shirt HERE