In 2004, the romantic comedy-drama film, (Garden State) featured the star roster of Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, and Ian Holm. Braff was also the writer and director of the film, which centered on the lead character, Andrew Largeman as a mid-twenties actor/waiter who returns to his New Jersey hometown after the death of his mother. The movie was based on Braff’s own personal experiences and received positive reviews from the critics, as well as the fans who saw it at the box office. The movie also spawned its own soundtrack, which saw Braff choose the music for it himself. The soundtrack won a Grammy Award in 2005 for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Media. The start of the movie sees the character, Largeman, wake up from a dream upon receiving a phone call from his father, informing him his mother just died. He flies from his Los Angeles home to New Jersey to attend the funeral and encounters some old buddies that happen to be the gravediggers. In the tale, the lead character has to contend with family issues, old friend issues, and new friend issues as he tries to come to terms with who he really is and what he really wants out of life. Also, with the film featuring a romantic storyline in the fold, the lead character also had to contend with a new relationship issue where he had to choose between his love interest, Sam, or his life back in L.A. Sam was played by Natalie Portman.
The Garden State Soundtrack Facts
When Zach Braff selected the music for the movie, he chose material that stuck with him the most during a time period in his life that seemed to identify with it. Due to the budget limitations, this resulted in a bit of difficulty for Braff to obtain all the music he wanted for the film and the soundtrack. He favored a number of independent rock artists, most notably the Shins. There was music featured in the film that was not included in the soundtrack. “Orange Sky” by Alexi Murdoch as it was owned by Fox’s television drama series, The O.C. The song, “Love Will Come Through” by Travis was used in the trailer of the film, but did not appear on the film nor the soundtrack. The trailer also featured the original version of “Such Great Heights,” performed by The Postal Service, but its cover version was played in the film by Iron & Wine instead. In the commercials hyping up the film, Snow Patrol’s “Chocolate” was featured, but not on the soundtrack. “Adelita” by Francisco Tarrega had versions appear in the film, but not on the soundtrack. The same thing goes for Lionel Richie’s “Three Times a Lady.” In total, there were thirteen tracks in the soundtrack. After the release of the soundtrack, enough copies were sold to earn it a platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
13. Lebanese Blonde (performed by Thievery Corporation)
The 1998 single, (Lebanese Blonde) was performed by the Thievery Corporation before it was added to the group’s studio album, The Mirror Conspiracy, which was released in 2000. It was also featured on the soundtrack of Garden State. The song is in direct reference to Lebanese hashish, a substance that is often mistaken for marijuana. On the UK Singles Chart, this single appeared at number ninety-six and was the only track from the album to chart, despite the fact the group’s second studio recording, as well as the most successful.
12. Winding Road (performed by Bonnie Somerville)
Performed by Bonnie Somerville, (Winding Road) is the final song on the soundtrack, serving as the appropriate closure of the album that dealt the highs and lows that mirrored the events of its associated movie, The Garden State. Although the song never appeared on any charts, this is a beautiful, easy-listening, acoustic song focused on the desire to return home, and all the sweet memories that come with it.
11. Fair (performed by Remy Zero)
Remy Zero’s album, (Villa Elaine), was produced in 1998, which featured the song, (Fair). It was also featured in The Garden State soundtrack. Remy Zero’s alternative rock material often finds itself in a number of small and big screen productions. For the movie, it fits the theme of twenty-somethings dealing with life’s challenges in circumstances that forced them to face their personal demons and deal with them.
10. I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You (performed by Colin Hay)
From Colin Hay’s fifth studio album, (Transcendental Highway), which was released in 2001, (I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You) was among his critically acclaimed songs that made the album itself receive such positive reviews at the time of its release. Fans of Scottish-born, Australian-raised Colin Hay may remember him as the lead singer to the band, Men at Work.
9. In the Waiting Line (performed by Zero 7)
Zero 7’s 2001 debut album, (Simple Things), was the single, (In the Waiting Line), which was featured in one of the earlier scenes of The Garden State film and is in the movie soundtrack. The soul-influenced, diva-style vocals performed by the duo of Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker have featured the trademark psychedelic jazz wave they’re known for. If Pink Floyd were to have an intro band that could serve up an appetizer of hallucinatory music, Zero 7 would be it and this song would make the perfect bridge from their material to Floyd’s.
8. Caring Is Creepy (performed by The Shins)
In 2004, (Caring Is Creepy) appeared in the movie, The Garden State, as the first of two singles from the independent rock group, The Shins. On their debut album, (Oh, Inverted World), the song served as the leading track when it was first released in 2001. It, along with the rest of the tracks on the album, inspired a sci-fi themed web-series, also titled Oh, Inverted World. That series came out in 2010. The song did not chart as a single but has been regarded as one of the best pieces of The Shins’ album that made it become certified gold by the RIAA.
7. Don’t Panic (performed by Coldplay)
(Don’t Panic) was a single performed by Coldplay that was originally titled “Panic” when it was performed during the band’s first live gig in 1998. This version is included in the group’s third EP, (The Blue Room). The track was then reproduced, now as “Don’t Panic,” which was included in the debut album, (Parachutes). The critical reception of the song was positive and it earned moderate chart success in Australia at number fifty-seven, in Italy at number forty-seven, and in the Netherlands at number eighty-three. On the soundtrack, it served as the lead single that set the tone for listeners, as well as fans of the movie.
6. New Slang (performed by The Shins)
Early in the movie, a set of headphones is passed from Natalie Portman’s character, Sam, to Zach Braff’s character, Andrew, which had (New Slang) as the song playing. It was performed by The Shins, an American rock band that originally recorded the song as part of the band’s debut album, (Oh, Inverted World), which was released in 2001. The focus of the song revolved around the lead singer, James Mercer, who shared his experiences as a young adult living in his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The playout of the song is deliberate with anger and confusion. When it was played in the movie, the popularity of the song, as well as the band, spiked. Up until that moment, the most recognition it received at the time was among various television programs and a McDonald’s advertising that ran during the 2002 Winter Olympics. However, upon discovery of this song, as well as the band, which seemed overdue as the critics already felt New Slang was one of the best songs from the band’s album.
5. Blue Eyes (performed by Cary Brothers)
Cary Brothers first earned recognition after his single, (Blue Eyes), was featured on The Garden State soundtrack. Still working as an independent artist since his 2003 debut, Brothers has also become one of the most-licensed artists in film and television. The influence of this song, as is the case with most of his material, comes from a mix of 1970s folk music and the 1980s blend of new wave. Blue Eyes is a rare gem of a song that’s worth a listen, if not on the Garden State soundtrack, then at least on his debut album, (Who Are You), which came out in 2007.
4. One of These Things First (performed by Nick Drake)
(One of These Things First) was a folk-rock classic favorite performed by the late Nick Drake. Between 1969 to 1972, he released three studio albums that each became certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). There was intent to record and release a fourth album in 1974, but he within months of starting the project. This song was first recorded on Drake’s second studio album, (Bryter Later), which was released in 1971. According to the critics, the album was a masterpiece, song for song. This song, plus the album, makes the perfect coffee shop music to play to keep a smooth, yet energetic vibe, which also sums up the intent behind The Garden State soundtrack.
3. The Only Living Boy in New York (performed by Simon & Garfunkel)
Performed by the legendary duo, Simon & Garfunkel, (The Only Living Boy in New York) was a song Simon wrote as a thinly veiled message to Garfunkel, who went to Mexico to act in the 1970 film, Catch-22. Alone to write songs in New York, Simon also wrote out the music for the duo’s fifth and final studio album, (Bridge over Troubled Water). Along the way, the inspiration of The Only Living Boy in New York came about. The 1970 song made a memorable reference to the duo’s earlier days as performers. This was a multi-tracked song that saw Simon and Garfunkel not only perform as lead vocalists but in the background as well while in an echo chamber. The haunted feel of this song brought about a sense of loneliness, which really made its impact.
2. Let Go (performed by Frou Frou)
(Let Go) was the first track on Frou Frou’s only studio album, (Details), which was released by MCA Records in 2002. This was the best-selling electro-style single for the British duo as it sold over 370,000 copies in the U.S. When this song was used in the ending credits for The Garden State, plus its inclusion into the soundtrack, this exposed Frou Frou to a much wider audience. This dramatic dance track displayed an excellent blend of bubbly excitement with anxious wonder that served to become Frou Frou’s signature song, as well as one of the big favorites by fans of the soundtrack.
1. Such Great Heights (performed by Iron & White)
Originally, (Such Great Heights) was performed by The Postal Service and was released in 2003 as the lead single from their debut album, (Give Up). It was ranked at number twenty-seven on its one hundred Best Songs of the Decade list. It was also one of the most frequently played songs on social music sites for nearly two years between 2005 and 2006. Did The Garden State soundtrack have anything to do with this? Yes, it did. The cover version, performed by Iron & Wine, was featured in the film and on the soundtrack, but the original version was in the movie trailer. For both artists, Such Great Heights served as that beautiful to be in a love song that came as a refreshment from the heartfelt breakup or longing song that sometimes feels oversaturated. This was also released as an EP, which features The Postal Service’s original and Iron & Wine’s cover. The popularity of Such Great Heights has also been covered by many other artists since then and has since become certified gold by the RIAA. On the music charts, the original Such Great Heights peaked as high as number twenty-one on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 2003, at number forty-four on the US Billboard Radio & Records Alternative chart in 2004, and again on the same billboard at number fifty in 2005.