Study Guide

Pulp Fiction Music (Score)

Music (Score)

A '60s Sampling

Like Reservoir Dogsthe Pulp Fiction soundtrack has no original scoring and only a handful of songs unique to the film.

Instead, it relies mostly on Tarantino doing what he does best: picking out a sampler platter of American music from an older era. In the case of Pulp Fiction, he picked the rock-n-surf music of the 1960s for the backdrop of a film that's clearly a '90s story…and doesn't have a whole lot of surfing.

But the music isn't supposed to function as a literal callback to those times or culture. Instead, it's just the feeling—the sort of 'too cool for school' vibe that each of our big-personality characters give off—that the soundtrack is supposed to reflect.

Tarantino has even compared his scoring of Pulp Fiction to classic Ennio Morricone western scores—which, knowing that Tarantino was influenced by Spaghetti Westerns when making this film, makes a lot of sense.

To understand how electronic '60s rock sounds western, let's have a listen to some of the tracks. The film opens with Dick Dale's take on "Misirlou," a song which itself has quite a storied past, starting out as a Middle Eastern erotic folk song and ending up as what you're listening to now (you're listening to it, right?).

Anyway, it certainly isn't hard to imagine the electric guitar riffs replaced by something more acoustic to give us a classic western action scene feel: horses galloping, outlaws pouring from the hills…you get the idea.

If you want the rest of the soundtrack you can check it out here. But it's safe to say there are plenty of other songs in the same western-esque vein, like The Centurion's "Bullwinkle Part II," the slow reflection of Urge Overkill's "You'll be a Woman Soon," and the abrasive horns of The Revels' "Comanche."

Oh, and let's not forget some of the slower, jazzier '50s tracks…because it would be a crime not to mention "You Never Can Tell" by Chuck Berry (which is difficult to listen to without picturing Vincent and Mia's twisting and sliding).

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