Regardless of what you think of his films, no one can say that Cameron Crowe doesn’t know how to put a soundtrack together. Thanks to his history as a music journalist, the director has a vast knowledge of music history that never fails to impress. On Vanilla Sky, he lets his music sensibilities do all the talking, resulting in an exquisite soundtrack that takes the listener from a live acoustic take of Bob Dylan’s Fourth Time Around to Radiohead’s phenomenal Everything in Its Right Place. Here’s how we rank all the songs from the Vanilla Sky soundtrack.
16. Fall Apart – Julianna Gianni
Cameron Diaz’s role in Vanilla Sky wasn’t limited to acting – she also contributed the lovely Fall Apart to the soundtrack under her character’s name, Julianna Gianni.
15. Mondo ’77 – Looper featuring Francis MacDonald
Stuart David might be best known to music fans as the co-founder of Belle and Sebastian, but to movies buffs, he’s the driving force behind Looper, whose most famous song, Mondo ’77, has featured in everything from the Vanilla Sky soundtrack to The Edukators.
14. Directions – Josh Rouse
Home, Josh Rouse’s second studio album, is a treasure trove of delights, with Directions ranking as one of the very prettiest offerings.
13. Solsbury Hil – Peter Gabriel
Shortly after leaving Genesis, Peter Gabriel had a spiritual experience on the top of Little Solsbury Hill in Somerset, England. The encounter subsequently provided the inspiration for his debut solo single and his first entry into the UK top 20 as a solo artist.
12. Have You Forgotten – Red House Painters
Sadcore isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like a chorus you can sigh along to, Red House Painters are likely to be your kind of band, and Have You Forgotten is likely to be your kind of song.
11. Svefn-g-englar – Sigur Rós
If you’ve ever wondered what the French Canadian film, Café de Flore, has in common with the Vanilla Sky soundtrack, or what the US documentary California Typewriter has in common with the CBS miniseries The Stand, it’s Svefn-g-englar from Sigur Rós’ second album, Ágætis byrjun.
10. Elevator Beat – Nancy Wilson
Nancy Wison might be best known as one half of the rock band Heart, but even without the other half (her sister Anne), she’s still capable of delivering the goods, as she does on the sublime Elevator Beat.
9. Porpoise Song – The Monkees
The Monkees often get dismissed as a novelty band, but even if they were as manufactured as Miracle Whip, they still delivered some of the catchiest choruses and chewiest hooks of the ’60s. Case in point – the gorgeously psychedelic Porpoise Song from their 1968 film Head.
8. Sweetness Follows – R.E.M.
Sweetness Follows, one of two contributions R.E.M. make to the Vanilla Sky soundtrack, might not have gotten the same amount of attention as their other song, All the Right Friends, but it’s still a must-listen for alt-rock fans.
7. Where Do I Begin – The Chemical Brothers
Before it made its way onto the Vanilla Sky soundtrack, Where Do I Begin was one of the chief highlights of the Chemical Brothers’ second album, Dig Your Own Hole. Listen out for Beth Orton on vocals.
6. Last Goodbye – Jeff Buckley
Considering how many alt-rock legends appear on the Vanilla Sky soundtrack, it’s only natural that Jeff Buckley pops up with Last Goodbye, the second single and highest-charting song from his phenomenal debut album, Grace.
5. Can We Still Be Friends – Todd Rundgren
Todd Rundgren isn’t an accessible artist and Hermit of Mink Hollow isn’t an accessible album, but for all that, it still managed to produce one top 30 hit in the form of Can We Still Be Friends, which reached number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978. Like every other song on the album, Rundgren plays every instrument and provides all of the vocals. Again like every other song on the album, it’s phenomenal.
4. All the Right Friends – R.E.M.
All the Right Friends was written by Peter Buck and Michael Stipe all the way back in 1979, a year before they formed R.E.M. Although originally intended for the 1983 album Murmur, it never made it past bootlegs and bonus discs until Cameron Crowe asked them to re-record it for the Vanilla Sky soundtrack.
3. Everything in Its Right Place – Radiohead
The massive success of Radiohead’s 1997 album OK Computer may have thrust the band into the limelight, but it also thrust frontman Thom Yorke headfirst into a mental breakdown. In the aftermath, he wrote Everything in Its Right Place, a song that would ultimately serve as the bedrock of Kid A, as well as one of the very best songs of the decade.
2. 4th Time Around – Bob Dylan
A live acoustic take of Fourth Time Around from Blonde on Blonde? Yes, please.
1. Vanilla Sky – Paul McCartney
Inspiration can sometimes be found in the unlikeliest of places. According to Paul McCartney, his inspiration for Vanilla Sky came from a waiter in a restaurant. Explaining the story during a TV interview, he said: “Before the first course he brought something we hadn’t ordered. He said “Here’s in the mood a music bushi”. I said “What is he talking about? Music bushi?”. My limited knowledge of French I kind of worked out that he meant like a sort of palate pleaser or something. So that became the first line of the song- “The chef prepares a special menu”. It’s gonna be “The chef prepares a music bushi”(amuse bouche), but I never even pronounce that well I work in the song.” It later went on to earn nominations for both the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and an Academy Award for Best Original Song.