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Melanie 'Must Be Going'... With A Playlist

Hello everyone! My little guest blogging stint has come to an end.

It has been really fun, and I want to thank Nathaniel from the bottom of my heart for entrusting me with his wonderful blog for a few posts.

"Hello, I Must Be Going" September 7th in theaters!

So, right now I am preparing for a movie that I'm shooting in October, and one of the things I always do to prepare is to create a playlist for my work. It's a collection of songs that will bring up specific feelings for me, or music I think the character would like, or songs that have an energy to them that feels right for the tone of the film. I usually find that while we're shooting, I will start to listen to one song from the playlist kind of obsessively, and that song will be my "theme song" for the movie. 

When I was shooting the strip club scene in Away We Go, I listened to the Band Of Horses song "No-One's Gonna Love You" so many times that it became the number one most played song on my ipod the next day. Doing The Informant! I only listened to music from the soundtracks to 80s movies. "Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong" became my song for that one.  I have also noticed that I kind of do that same thing in my life... my theme song for the summer has been Conor Oberst's "Lenders In The Temple". I just keep going back to it right now. And crying, because it's gorgeous, and heart wrenching. 

the strip scene in "Away We Go"

My favourite thing about this little guest hosting thing has been interacting with all you smart, funny, film lovers in the comments.

So for my last post I would love to hear any and all of your stories about theme songs! Perhaps your life has a theme song right now? Maybe you like to listen to music at work, like I do, to get you in a certain frame of mind? Maybe there is a movie that uses music in a way you have really loved? My two favourite directors soundtrack-wise are Sofia Coppola (I lost my mind when The Cure's "All Cats Are Grey" started playing in Marie Antoinette!!!) and Wes Anderson (Nico in The Royal Tenenbaums comes immediately to mind). Or, we can be negative too! Maybe there's a song you hate that is used all the time in movies? If you have a story, or even just a random thought, I want to hear it.  And ask away in the comments if you want to know what my song was for any particular movie. Thanks for reading everyone and thanks again Nathaniel!!!

Wishing you all good things.

xo, Melanie

[Editor's Note. Thank you again to fine actress Melanie Lynskey for these amazing peaks into her process (here's a playlist to accompany her post), behind the scenes, into her DVD collection, and especially those love letters to and from her favorite talents in the movie industry. Give her a huge round of applause -- she really went all out! -- and go see "Hello, I Must Be Going" on Friday, September 7th when it opens. It's her best performance yet and a too rare opportunity to see her carry a whole film.  -Nathaniel R]

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Reader Comments (23)

Melanie you're immensely awesome. Thank you for answering my actor related questions.

Whoopi Goldberg movies from the '80s had the best soundtracks for her—Jumpin' Jack Flash, Burgular, and Fatal Beauty.

Sometimes when I want to relive the early '90s and feel like Julia Roberts where she ruled, I'll play the Go West classic, King of Wishful Thinking, whenever listening I become a beacon with the widest possible smile, as though I own the world and everyone's in love with me.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter4rtful

That strip scene (and your performance) was the best part of 'Away We Go'. A nice film, but those layers were just... Jesus.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

My big theme song right now is Jessie Ware's Runnin'. She's amazing.

Thanks so much for all this sharing! I can totally see how the Band of Horses song would help unlock that performance. It's such a beautiful song, to boot.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada



August 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter4rtful

The theme song to my life right now is all of Fiona Apple's newest CD, but particularly "Every Single Night" (although an argument could also be made for Led Zeppelin's "Going to California").

As far as music in movies, my favorite uses of a song are "Wise Up" from Magnolia, Manhattan's "Rhapsody in Blue," Karen O's "Hideaway" from Where the Wild Things Are, Jackie Brown's "Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time," The Hunger's (1983) "Bela Lugosi's Dead," and "Day-O" from Beetlejuice. Also love for Nico in Royal Tenenbaums.

But honestly, the music I find most moving in films is the score. I recently watched Beasts of the Southern Wild and could not get its musical score out of my head, to the point that I bought it on iTunes and listened to it on repeat for days.

And I just want to thank you again for guest blogging - you've been amazing.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRose

Your posts have been so wonderful, and such a pleasure to read. Thank you for really giving of yourself and being so generous with your throughts and feelings. I would actually love to know if you had a theme song for your very first film, HEAVENLY CREATURES. :) That must not have been an easy shoot- did you have a song to help you through it or a song to get you more into character?

My theme song changes often, but the number one right now is actually musical theater related (though it's ok, it will be made into a film soon) - "Children Will Listen" from Stephen Sondheim's INTO THE WOODS. I love musicals, so the whole concept of songs in movies is something I really really love, of course.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeehee

The two examples of music being used to great effect that are jumping into my head right now are David Bowie's Modern Love in The Night is Young and Video Killed the Radio Star in Take this Waltz.

It's been such a pleasure to have you guest blogging on here! Can't wait to see Hello I Must Be Going.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill H

Thank you so much for the guest spot. I'm a huge fan, and after this, just love you that much more. Thank you for sharing with us, and please keep giving us wonderful performances. I can't let you go without saying your performances Heavenly Creatures and Up in the Air were perfection (plus your turn in Two and a Half Men was a hoot).

My current theme song is "Let's Have a Kiki" by the Scissor Sisters because life is often worth escaping.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

'funiculi funicula' by mario lanza from some obscure little new zealand film....

thanks for your excellent posts, melanie

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

omg - I also lost it when Cure's "All Cats Are Grey" played in Marie Antoinette!

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Boyfriend

I remember when I lost it when The Cure's "Plainsong" came on in Marie Antoinette, after the coronation. I don't completely adore that movie, but that sound cue is just unbelievable.

I will have to think more about theme songs, even though Salt 'n' Pepa's "Shoop" pretty much got me through college.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Melanie, I have noticed you as a highlight of many movies, often leaving the audience wishing you were onscreen for longer. I can't wait to see 'Hello I Must Be Going'. Thank you for all your entries this week. Now we all know that you are not only a great actress, but a lovely and thoughtful cinephile.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

My theme song right now is definitely Feel The Love by Rudimental. It came on really early in the morning, which was still really late at night to sleepless me, and I had to turn it up loud and dance with myself.

I got giddy when Paper Bag by Fiona Apple played during the cupcake making scene in Bridesmaids, because that is probably the only song I know in full and can recall to sing to myself when walking back home drunk.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim B.

Thank you all SO much for your incredibly kind comments. I love all these song choices and am going straight to iTunes to create a Film Experience playlist.
Rose + Tim B- YES to Fiona Apple! My spin instructor played Sleep To Dream in class tonight and I was so excited... love her.
Will- Video Killed The Radio Star in Take This Waltz was So. Amazing. When they go on the ride That was my favorite part of the movie.
Nick! The beginning of Plainsong kills me every time- it goes straight to your heart the moment it starts.
Leehee- weirdly, with all this Cure talk- my song on Heavenly Creatures was The Same Deep Water As You, and then sometimes I'd listen to The Drowning Man. I also listened to I Will Always Love You because it was Kate's favorite song.
It was a lot more awkward in the pre-ipod days because I'd have to carry my disc man and my little cd book everywhere I went.
Thanks for the fun comments. xox

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Lynskey

Hi Melanie! This was great. I have two songs: Cat People by David Bowie, the version that Quentin Tarantino uses in Inglorious Bastards, which is slightly slower and spookier. Also David Bowie doing an updated version of Life on Mars together with Arcade Fire. His voice has caramelized in recent years and I can't get enough of it. xoxo

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDarcy

These posts have been wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing, Melanie. And to add to everyone else who has followed your career and say how moved I've been by your performances. I can't count how many people I made watch my scratchy VHS copy of Heavenly Creatures back when I was a teenager and first getting into film.

As for life soundtracks, Aimee Mann's Lost In Space was released just as I was splitting up with my boyfriend (and first love), which was just the perfect slightly self-indulgent wallowing type of music, and Aimee Mann has a way of articulating those sort of feelings that just staggers me. In film, I love Tom Petty's Free Fallin' in Jerry Maguire, because it's so joyful and Tom Cruise sings it with all that manic Tom Cruise-y energy in the car. Love. Otherwise, the entire soundtrack to Mysterious Skin, but especially the part where Joseph Gordon-Levitt is running down the street after meeting the old guy with AIDS. And, finally, Sarah McLachlan's Full of Grace in the Season 2 finale of Buffy. PHEW.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBen

The song I listen to too many times lately, is The Sunday Drivers' cover of Dancing Queen. They give it a sad touch that really fits perfectly well. Or maybe it's because I see Winehouse's Fuck me Pumps as the dark side of Dancing Queen and I've transferred some of the latter to the former.

And specifically movies music, the ringtone on my phone is Slaughterhouse from Wild at Heart soundtrack. :)

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

Love this post! I don't know if it counts as a theme song but I've always said that if I could, I would have the 20th Century Fox theme play every time I entered a room. That said, my Beyonce and Joanna Newsom albums are about as essential to me as oxygen. As for favorite movie scores, I've gotta say, no soundtrack (maybe no movie?) has ever made me as happy as Chungking Express. I've gotten into the habit of playing Dinah Washington's "What A Difference A Day Makes" in the morning because even the slightest reminder of that scene sends me straight to my happy place.

And it really must be said, that strip scene in Away We Go is exquisite. But then that's no real surprise. Not when you consider Heavenly Creatures, Up In The Air, The Informant!, and Win Win. Thanks so much for your most excellent guest blogging, but thanks even more for your wonderful, perfect, generous performances.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTB

Well, I've heard It's Raining Men on many occasions (one memorable one was when I was in London's Chinatown at 15 and I just wanted to get into that club and dance the hell out of that masterpiece) and it still is a song that sends me to a happy place.

I'm not going to list a number of Greek songs because, there isn't really a point so I'll stay with the international ones.

Soldier of Fortune reminds me of when my grandpa died because I was listening to it often the period right before it happened.

I Like to Move It reminds me of going to clubs with my dad in Skiathos when I was VERY young and used to drink orange juice shots!

All 90's dance songs (especially Be My Lover and Rythme is a Dancer) remind me of both my youth and one lovely summer in Rhodes.

Chicago's I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love reminds me of a love (one-sided) I had when I was 19 and I kept listening to that soapy, all-too-much song. Silly youth...

PS: Thanks so much, Melanie, for your lovely contribution here! And thanks to Nathaniel for inviting you!

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Just a chime in to say thank you for your wonderful guest-blogging and your wonderful performances. I've been too intimidated to comment up to now but would kick myself if I didn't chime in with the genuine love.

My most jarring soundtrack moments have been repeatedly with Julian Schnabel movies because he uses some of my favorite songs and artists and it always takes me out of the moment while watching the (often terrific, engrossing) movie to hear an old Tom Waits song that I listen to a thousand times and this is the wrong context and how weird that Julian Schnabel and I share the same taste in music.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAR

Kia Ora Melanie... thanks for all your wonderful posts.

In looking into my current theme song, I was a little surprised to find another Kiwi way out in the lead on my most played list, Ladyhawke's 'Sunday Drive', that whole album had kind of been my soundtrack for Summer '12.

Some what unintentionally, I found NZ/Australia music one of the best way of staying connected with the homeland(s) since moving to the US... How about you?

btw: Love your work, and looking forward to seeing some of these new projects soon.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDrG

Wonderful Melanie, I've loved reading your blog entries and have found myself nodding vehemently in agreement, cooing at your great taste and being generally awed by your generous spirit, insight and sense of humour. (I already knew you were a super-talented actress.)

The practice of soundtracking your life to music/movies and vice versa is also one of my greatest pleasures/necessities/vices. I may not be an actress by profession, but I think everybody uses performance and role-play in daily life to some extent and I rely heavily on music to get me into the frame of mind I need to access for different occasions, people or places - I think I'd be a bit lost as to who I am supposed to be without it!

It started in earnest with Twin Peaks and the Hal Hartley films I saw in my teens - they created worlds and characters that were so distinctive and seductive that I wanted my own life to blur into them. The music/sound-design in those pieces is so evocative and essential to their overall appeal that by playing the soundtracks over and over it became easier to express some of their magic in my day-to-day existence. Maybe they were attractive to me because they already mirrored some part of my essence? or, maybe in escaping from myself they became my idealized templates for becoming more attractive? Probably a little bit of both and that's the beauty and paradoxical nature of it - the impossibility of disentangling the music from "me".

These days it isn't just music from films but every composition I hear that has me unconsciously creating a narrative around it; imagining what sort of person that sound would reflect, or what kind of mood it would induce and what the associated imagery would be; then drawing upon it when I need help getting to a desired state of being or want to enhance a particular experience...

um, do I sound like a crazy-person or does everybody do this a little bit?

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSally

Hey Melanie! Loved each and every one of your entries. You're a great blogger in addition to being a fantastic actress. Would love to see you do this again someday.

As for theme songs, I've actually had the same one for the past two years or so. It's "Zebra" by Beach House, and I listen to it on a weekly basis. It makes me varying degrees of happy and sad all at the same time, and I love the hell out of it.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterm83
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