Imaginary Movie Soundtracks are just that -- the soundtracks to movies that doesn't exist. We pick the songs, write the story, and your mind makes the movie.
Sometimes, a conversation gets your brain stuck on an idea. (Like killing someone. Um, just kidding.) Years back, I heard an argument on 96.5 the Buzz's The Church of Lazlo about which songs were appropriate for killing a drifter, and which songs were more suited to killing a hooker. The idea of "songs to kill a drifter to" stuck in my head for weeks. Eventually, this list of songs coalesced, forming a story arc.
With Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere," we have the introduction to our drifter. He rides the rails, bindle on his shoulder, slave to neither whistle, bell nor clock. He's the man in Roger Miller's "King of the Road," before he's broken down and pushing a broom. This version of the Hank Snow classic is a bit more upbeat than the original, and Cash's baritone lends the song a necessary gravitas.
As Beck's "Deadweight" comes along, our hobo hero has been brought down and left depressed, sad. The song's nuevo troplicalia brings up images of sunshine and beaches, but the drfiter knows only the oppresive sun that bakes a man as he waits in the line at the soup kitchen or stands alongside the road, waiting for a passing vehicle to pick him up.
There's nothing for the drifter but a night of drinking 'shine next to a campfire. He's found some like-minded individuals with a Mason jar of forgetfulness, but even the potent white lightning isn't enough to make the hobo forget his troubles, As his drunkeness builds, so does Fugazi's "Promises." As Ian MacKaye chants, so does our protagonist: PROMISES ARE SHIT!
The story is not without hope, however. The drifter meets a salesman, who promises him the world. It's a meeting filled with portent, as the traveling salesman offers the man an unheard-of sum to lift and carry the heavy boxes that line the trunk of the salesman's car. Sadly, it is not to be. Nouvelle Vague plays Echo & the Bunnymen's "The Killing Moon," and as the song's gentle bossa nova lilts along, it helps us discover that the only thing awaiting the drifter is a drive down a long dirt road, into the middle of nowhere. We realize that the end of the road has been reached, both literally and figuratively.
This isn't the easy money he thought it would be. Instead, it's a tire iron to the back of the skull and a shallow grave in the woods. Rocket From the Crypt plays "Ditchdigger," its quietly strummed intro simultaneously celebrating the man who tried to make a go of it with nothing but the strength in his arms, and providing an ironic coda to the homicidal salesman tossing dirt on the drifter's lifeless body as Speedo sings, That's the way it goes.