Garden State: The Alternative Soundtrack (An Imaginary Album)

Well, looks like the 2004 film Garden State is, once again, in constant rotation on cable this month. Which raises yet again the eternal question, Is it good or terrible? It's at minimum divisive, on that we can agree. Or not. (At minimum, the film supplied a motif I used in my book, the enduring debate around the integrity of Natalie Portman's "You gotta hear this one song, it'll change your life forever, I swear" line.)

Personally, I was always a little more impressed with the soundtrack than the movie itself. And, with the movie popping up during my 3 a.m. insomnia bouts, I figured it was finally time to concoct an imaginary version of the soundtrack that's a little more to my liking. (I did this most recently with Harold & Maude.)

I kept about 2/3 of the original--The Shins, of course. That trippy Zero 7 track. The one Coldplay tune that's actually pretty good. The impeccably curated oldies (Simon & Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy In New York," Nick Drake's "One Of These Things First"). And I jettisoned a few that I couldn't see myself wanting to hear outside the context of the actual film

And then I bulked it up by mixing in a bunch of other songs that seemed to fit the mood. A few were already associated with the film. A Travis song that was played in the trailer but not used in the movie; the Shins' Postal Service cover that was used in the trailer but replaced by an Iron & Wine Postal Service cover in the movie (I love the Iron & Wine track but I found it a little too slow for my new mix); a song by singer-songwriter Alexi Murdoch (albeit a different one than they used in the film).

Others have nothing to do with the movie, but would've been on my want-list if I'd been designing the original. Yo La Tengo, obviously--naming a film Garden State without enlisting one of the definitive New Jersey bands (especially one whose music is often designed perfectly for soundtracks) seems like a tragic oversight. Aimee Mann and Dean & Britta (of Luna) fit well. And the absence of Death Cab For Cutie in the original seems somehow off--tell me these characters wouldn't have had Transatlanticism on auto-repeat at the time! Plus a few more Zero 7 tracks. And to close it out, one more oldie--Sandie Shaw's version of Led Zeppelin's "Your Time Is Gonna Come" felt both out-of-nowhere and spot-on to run over the closing credits.

Anyway, I think it turned out nicely. Here's a Spotify version so you can decide for yourself.