Soundtrack Saturday: “A Walk on the Moon”

Written by Film, Soundtrack Saturday

Have I featured a film in this column that was made after 1995? I don’t think I have. I know you kids like it when I post the older stuff, but I don’t want you to think I’m stuck too far in the past. I love posting soundtracks from the ’80s more than any other decade, but I also like to mix it up now and again, so this week I bring you a movie that was released in the late ’90s and set in the late ’60s, with a soundtrack to match.

A Walk on the Moon (1999), the directorial debut of actor Tony Goldwyn (the bad guy in Ghost), stars Diane Lane as Pearl Kantrowitz, a young Jewish wife and mother of two who spends the summer of ’69 in the Catskills with her family, which includes her television repairman husband, Marty (Liev Schreiber); her teenage daughter, Alison (Anna Paquin); her young son, Daniel (Bobby Boriello); and her mother-in-law, Lillian (Tovah Feldshuh). Marty ends up working overtime to meet demand in anticipation of the first moonwalk, leaving Pearl to care for the children, but she quickly begins to feel suffocated and lonely. Especially challenging for her to deal with is 14-year-old Alison, who’s “becoming a woman” and discovering boys, which makes Pearl think about her own life and the mistakes she made when she was a teenager — namely, getting pregnant with Alison and marrying Marty when she was only 17.

One day Pearl meets and befriends “The Blouse Man” (Viggo Mortensen), a traveling salesman who sells his wares at the bungalows where the family is staying. A carefree hippie, he’s different from anyone Pearl has ever met and helps her explore sides of herself she never knew existed, allowing her to experience some of the freedom she had to abandon when she became a wife and mother in her teens. When the affair is discovered it causes trouble with Marty and creates a rift between Pearl and her mother-in-law as well as Alison. But it also forces Pearl and Marty to take a good look at each other and what their lives became after they were forced to grow up too soon. Ultimately, they realize they’re still a young, vibrant couple and there’s no reason they shouldn’t embrace that fully.

Since it deals with themes of exploration and rebellion in the summer of ’69, A Walk on the Moon was bound to have an amazing soundtrack, especially since one of the pivotal scenes takes place at Woodstock. The original soundtrack album is out of print, though, and it never included all the great tracks featured in the film. For the Woodstock scenes the filmmakers used recordings from the actual event (you never see shots of the stage in the film), so I’ve provided those live tracks here. For one reason or another, several of the soundtrack’s songs are covers of ’60s classics recorded by artists who were thriving at the time of the film’s release; the choices are interesting, to say the least. I’ve managed to collect almost all of the tracks, but I’m still missing a few; for the Elijah Blue Allman/Cher track, I’ve provided a YouTube link. Strangely, the Mojave 3 track isn’t listed in the film’s credits but is on the soundtrack album, so I’ve provided it as well.

Bobby Darin – More
Wayne Newton – Danke Schoen
Dusty Springfield – Wishin’ & Hopin’
The Grateful Dead – Ripple
The Youngbloods – Sunlight
Big Brother & the Holding Company – Summertime
Jefferson Airplane – Today
Jefferson Airplane – Embryonic Journey
Georgia Gibbs – Kiss of Fire
Joni Mitchell – Cactus Tree
Gene Pitney – Town Without Pity
The Grateful Dead – Uncle John’s Band
Richie Havens – Freedom
Country Joe McDonald – The Fish Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag
It’s a Beautiful Day – White Bird
Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues
Judy Collins – Who Knows Where the Time Goes?
Desmond Dekker – The Israelites
Dean Martin – When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Purple Haze
Richie Havens – Follow
Taxiride – Helplessly Hoping
Morcheeba – Crystal Blue Persuasion
Mojave 3 – No Matter What You Do

Elijah Blue Allman and Cher, “Crimson and Clover”
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