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Music is huge in Martin Scorsese films. He chooses his musical cues with the same exacting care that he puts into every visual frame. Scorsese is also a master of what's known as diegetic music - music that both the characters and the viewer can hear (like when a character is listening to the radio and starts singing along). He is a huge music buff, frequently mixing the blues, rock, Italian opera and doo-wop into his soundtracks. This album highlights the best selections from a range of Scorsese films.
It's really hard to choose the ideal Scorsese soundtrack, but if you want one example of his mastery of the playlist you could do worse than to start with Goodfellas. The music evokes the setting, theme and mood of Scorsese's movie, with songs from the doo-wop world of Scorsese's 1950s Italian-American gangsters. And if you're a serious film nerd (hey - we think it's cool) several bloggers have compiled exhaustive lists of EVERY song that appears in the film.
Scorsese is a big blues fan. In 2003, he produced a seven-part documentary about the genre entitled, fittingly, The Blues. Seven directors - including Scorsese - each directed a feature focusing on a particular aspect of this musical genre. The massive five-disc soundtrack is like an anthology of the greatest blues musicians ever, including B.B. King, the Count Basie Orchestra and dozens more.
Scorsese's films instantly conjure up a certain sliver of a bygone New York City, and so in its own way does the music of Frank Sinatra. Though separated by a generation, Scorsese and Sinatra were born in the New York area (Scorsese in Queens, Sinatra in Hoboken) and raised by working-class Italian-American parents. Neither was one to shy away from gangsters or a good New York dive bar. In fact, Scorsese is at work on a biopic of Sinatra, scheduled for release in 2011.
On Thanksgiving Day 1976, the Canadian rock group The Band held their final concert in San Francisco. The show turned into a rock legend, with appearances from Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and other greats. Scorsese was there with his cameras to document the concert for a 1978 documentary called The Last Waltz. The movie has been hailed as one of the greatest rock films of all time. If you can't catch the film, check out the recordings of the concert.
Believe it or not, that subway station dance-off in the video for Michael Jackson's 1987 single "Bad" is a Martin Scorsese joint. Scorsese directed the "Bad" video at the request of music producer Quincy Jones, and the result is one of the most famous music videos of all time. Scorsese paid tribute to his fellow artist when Jackson died in 2009, saying, "I was in awe of his absolute mastery of movement on the one hand, and of the music on the other. Every step he took was absolutely precise and fluid at the same time. It was like watching quicksilver in motion. . . . He was wonderful to work with, an absolute professional at all times, and - it really goes without saying - a true artist."