Martin Scorsese has always had a deep love for music: “At other moments, they would blend into the scene out my window, or in our apartment, the way a color blends into a palette, changing the tone, the hue. It was as if my life was scored with an on-going movie soundtrack” (liner notes).
With many of his films, Scorsese handpicks the music carefully to accompany his film scenes. He has such an affinity at using music to represent the setting and time in his films. Raging Bull is the apex of his effort and talent. Scorsese brought in Robbie Robertson, former member of The Band, as music supervisor for Raging Bull (they would later collaborate on The King Of Comedy, The Color Of Money and Casino). Scorsese on Robertson: “Robbie has a consummate, encyclopedic knowledge of popular music. He helped me make some of my selections, and he recorded a few pieces [“Webster Hall” and “A New Kind of Love” – both previously unreleased] to fill in certain moments in the picture” (liner notes).
The soundtrack includes songs from many great artists like Tony Bennett (“Blue Velvet”), Bing Crosby (“Just One More Chance”), Ella Fitzgerald (“Cow-Cow Boogie”), Artie Shaw (“Frenesi”) and Frank Sinatra (“Come Fly With Me”). These are classic songs and juxtaposing them together creates a mesmerizing combination of empathy, sympathy and nostalgia.
I’m sure that’s one of the reasons the picture flows with such undeniable authenticity. The musicality in this picture seeps through the walls, out the windows and down the streets. It gets under your skin and draws you way inside Jake LaMotta’s bent reality.
– Robbie Robertson
The tracks play so well together that you can hear the film progress: from its beginning score of “Cavalleria Rusticana: Intermezzo” (Arturo Basile & Orchestra Of Bologna Municop Thetra) – single handedly captures the essence of Jake LaMotta, his potential, his greatness and his tragedy all in one song; to “My Reverie” (Larry Clinton & His Orchestra) – paints the tranquility of Jake’s good times; to Robert De Niro’s monologue “That’s Entertainment” – painfully depicts LaMotta’s fall from grace; and to come full circle with “Cavalleria Rusticana: Intermezzo [Reprise].”
Perhaps the music, all of it glorious, will eventually lead you away from the film altogether, and back to your own life. Perhaps it will interact with the world around you in ways that I could never imagine. Which is as it should be.
– Martin Scorsese
Soundtrack website: www.ragingbullsoundtrack.com