The following is a comprehensive summary of the music in Anderson’s films and is the second of a two-part series. Be sure to check out Part One as well as our Wes Anderson entertainer page, which contains a description of each of his movies and other interesting facts about his career.
If you remember, Part One ended with Nico’s haunting vocals (in "These Days") as Richie sees his stepsister (and secret love), Margo, for the first time in many moons. The scene certainly kicks the film into another gear, but the young couple is unaware that there are some dark times ahead.
Disc Two (caution: spoilers ahead)
"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,"
This song plays as Royal (Gene Hackman) takes his grandsons out on the town to commit minor acts of mischief. Simon’s upbeat acoustic guitar lends a whimsical, playful feel to the montage.
"Judy is a Punk," The Ramones
Raleigh (Bill Murray) and Richie (Luke Wilson) examine the private investigator’s report on Margo (Gwyneth Paltrow). The rebellious song plays during a montage of Margo’s past affairs, before and after she was married to Raleigh. His response to the news is classic: "She smokes."
"Needle in the Hay," Elliott Smith
The news of Margo’s affair with Eli (Owen Wilson) sends Richie into a tailspin. This haunting track plays as he cuts his hair and shaves his beard before attempting to commit suicide. Smith sings over a subtle guitar, which adds to the intensity of the scene.
"Fly," Nick Drake
This uplifting song signifies the beginning of Richie’s rebirth. It plays as he leaves the hospital and heads home on the Green Line bus. It leads into a very important scene with Margo.
"She Smiled Sweetly," The Rolling Stones (Between
Even though the Stones don’t allow their music to appear on soundtracks, Anderson decided to use two of their songs back-to-back in the crucial tent scene. "She Smiled Sweetly" plays as Richie shows Margo his wounds and the two go on to talk about Margo’s romantic past. The pretty song continues as they declare their love for each other and share a passionate kiss.
"Ruby Tuesday," The Rolling Stones (Flowers)
After shedding a few tears, Margo leaves the tent, but stops to say, "I think we’re just going to have to be secretly in love with each other and leave it at that, Richie." As the tent flap closes, the song’s chorus – "Goodbye, ruby Tuesday / Who could hang a name on you? / When you change with every new day / Still I’m gonna miss you" – explodes in volume, punctuating the moment.
"Stephanie Says," Velvet Underground
Richie seeks out Royal at the hotel and the two go up to the roof to talk about Margo. This quiet track plays at the tail end of their conversation, and in a moment of unmistakable symbolism, Richie’s falcon Mordecai flies in.
"The Fairest of the Seasons," Nico
This gorgeous song (like the Disc One Nico track "These Days," this was also written by Jackson Browne) starts just after Margo and Richie share a smoke on the roof. Alec Baldwin provides a "where are they now?" voiceover summary for all the main characters in the film. Nico’s haunting voice is a fitting backdrop for the news of Royal’s death.
"Everyone," Van Morrison (Moondance)
At the funeral, this bittersweet track begins just as we read the epitaph on Royal’s tombstone: "Died tragically rescuing his family from the wreckage of a destroyed sinking battleship." The moment is a perfect example of the kind of emotional texture that Anderson is able to create with image and sound.
"Life on Mars?," David Bowie
This track plays just as Steve (Murray) meets Ned (Owen Wilson) for the first time. After Ned explains that he might be Steve’s son, the quiet song explodes as Steve walks off to digest the news. Bowie’s vocals mirror the desperation that Steve must be feeling at the time.
"Gut Feeling," Devo
This track plays as the crew prepares for their mission to find the jaguar shark. It features a terrific extended intro before the vocals begin at the two-minute mark. Anderson probably didn’t have any trouble getting permission to use the song: Mark Mothersbaugh was a member of Devo and has scored all of Anderson’s films.
"Search and Destroy," Iggy & the Stooges
After pirates raid Steve’s ship, he fights them off as this song plays in the background. It’s a punk song with a hard edge, and its quick tempo raises the intensity of the scene.
"30 Century Man," Scott Walker
This song is simply Walker and an acoustic guitar. His voice is powerful, which underlies the tension as Team Zissou prepares to hunt the shark. They know it’s nearby, now they just need to find it.
"The Way I Feel Inside," The Zombies
This track plays during Ned’s funeral. It’s sung a cappella at the start, but a quiet organ comes in a bit later. It’s a sad song for the film’s saddest moment.
"Queen Bitch," David Bowie
Steve’s documentary about the jaguar shark turns out to be a hit, and this track serves as an audible celebration. Bowie’s music is present throughout the film in both English and Portuguese, so it’s only fitting that one of his songs is used as the closer.