Song of the Week – Early Soundtracks by Rock Artists in Film

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

Today’s post is the next installment in my series on rock music in films.  The last in the series covered rock in ‘60s psychedelic movies.  It was largely centered on soundtracks that included performances by rock bands.  Today’s post focuses on movie soundtracks written and performed by rock acts.

One of the best movies of the ‘60s was The Graduate (1967), starring a young Dustin Hoffman.  Directed by Mike Nichols, with a screenplay by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham, and also starring Anne Bancroft and Katherine Ross, it was a coming of age story and a box office smash.  The hip vibe of the flick was aided by the soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel.

The soundtrack recycled several songs from the first couple of Simon and Garfunkel albums that perfectly reflected the mood of the scenes that used them.  But there was one original, the major hit “Mrs. Robinson.”  This is the soundtrack version, not the hit that was on Bookends.

A year earlier, Francis For Coppola hired The Lovin’ Spoonful to provide the soundtrack to You’re A Big Boy Now.  Interestingly, YABBN tackled a subject very similar to The Graduate – a young man engaged in an affair with an older woman.

“Darling Be Home Soon” is a beautiful song that was covered with a gospel feel by Joe Cocker and was previously featured as a SotW.

The Spoonful also provided the soundtrack for Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1967).

There was a trio of films with notable rock soundtracks that came out in 1971:

Harold & Maude – Cat Stevens

Friends – Elton John

Percy – The Kinks

Like The Graduate soundtrack, Harold & Maude’s reused tracks from early Cat Stevens albums supplemented with some new material.  The most famous of the two new songs – “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” – was a SotW in August 2013, so let’s hear the other – “Don’t Be Shy.”

Elton John was considered for the role of Harold and was instrumental in connecting director Hal Ashby with Stevens.

Friends was John’s release between Tumbleweed Connection and Madman Across the Water.

“Friends” made it into the Billboard Top 40 and the soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy in 1972 for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture.  Despite those accolades, the Friends soundtrack album didn’t sell and could be found in the cut-out bins for a couple of bucks for years.

The strangest of these 1971 soundtracks was for Percy, by the Kinks.

“The Way Love Used to Be” is the best of the lot and was later included on The Great Lost Kinks Album (1973).  But it must be difficult writing songs for a story that is about a guy named Edwin that loses his penis when a man falls from the sky and lands on him.  When he gets a penis transplant, he names it Percy.

All of these soundtracks set the stage for rock music to be used to score films in the years to come.  A few examples of outstanding soundtracks by rock musicians are:

Mark Knopfler – Princess Bride

Queen – Flash Gordon

Richard Thompson – Grizzly Man

Ry Cooder – Paris, Texas

Peter Gabriel – Last Temptation of Christ

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Was Dog a Doughnut?, Cat Stevens


I always have an ear open for a great, new (or old) tune I’ve never heard before. You can never tell where it will come from. Many times before I’ve told stories about the odd circumstances under which a cool song with an interesting backstory has come to my attention. Here’s another one.

A few weeks ago I was invited to a cocktail party in San Francisco’s Mission district by my cousin Emilia V. She’s the event planner for a lifestyle website (

While mingling at the party I met one of her colleagues and quickly learned we share a passion for music. He told me he’d heard about a Cat Stevens song that was based on nothing more than a “ping pong” effect and asked if I’d ever heard of it. He’d never heard it and didn’t know the title.

Now I’m quite familiar with Cat Stevens work and this didn’t sound even vaguely familiar to me. So I dug into my “still haven’t listened to” box of records and found two Cat Stevens’ albums – Foreigner and Izitso.

I put Izitso onto the turntable first because it had two instrumentals. When I heard “Was Dog a Doughnut?” on side two, I knew I found what I was looking for.

“Dog…” is an interesting electro pop instrumental that doesn’t sound like anything you would associate with Stevens. Not only is it different, it is funky, especially for its time.

I did a little internet research on the song and found this great article from May 2015 by Christine Kakaire for Red Bull Music Academy Daily. The back story on the record is fascinating. I’d hate to simply paraphrase the whole thing for you here, so I highly suggest you click through to learn all about the song, equipment used and its influence on contemporary electronic and hip hop music.

Christine Kakaire – Key Tracks Cat Steven’s “Was Dog a Doughnut?”

Enjoy… until next week.

Songs of the Week – Here Comes My Baby, The First Cut is the Deepest, If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out, Cat Stevens


Today’s Songs of the Week are in tribute to Cat Stevens. Everybody already knows his career highlights including his massive selling early 70s albums Tea for the Tillerman, Teaser and the Firecat, and Catch Bull at Four and his late 70s repudiation of the music business and conversion to Islam.

But today I’d like to focus on the earlier part of his career when he was a songwriter in the UK and had not yet broken through in the U.S. I was surprised to learn that a couple of my favorite British pop songs from the late 60s were written by a pre-fame Stevens. You may be surprised too.

The first is “Here Comes My Baby” by the Tremeloes.

This version of “Here Comes My Baby” reached #14 on the Billboard charts in 1967. It’s such an upbeat song that brings an irresistible smile to my face. It also has the added sentimental value of reminding me of some wonderful hours shared with my toddler daughter, hunting for vinyl records at yard sales and listening to the local Boston oldies station. The hip, Hoboken, NJ, band Yo La Tengo recorded a version for their 1990 covers album, Fakebook.

Stevens also wrote the classic “The First Cut is the Deepest”. The version I’m presenting is the one by P.P. Arnold that reached #18 on the UK charts.

P.P. Arnold was an American soul singer that moved to the UK to try her hand in the business there. She scored one of her biggest hits with “First Cut…” But how could she go wrong with such a great song? I’ll bet most of you are thinking “isn’t that Rod Stewart’s song.” Yes, he also recorded an outstanding 1977 hit version that I enjoy every time I hear it. In fact, this song has the rare distinction of having hit versions recorded by 4 different artists. The other two were by Keith Hampshire (1973) and Sheryl Crow (2003).

Finally, I can’t resist sharing Stevens’ own “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” from the soundtrack of one of my all time Top 10 Movies – Harold and Maude. (Cat Stevens’ version starts at about 2:00.)

The movie is a sweet story about an older woman that teaches a young man about joie de vivre. This simple little Stevens ditty perfectly captures the spirit of the film. If you’ve never seen it, you MUST check it out.

Enjoy… until next week.