The Legacy Recordings release of the Lady Bird soundtrack offers an eclectic music collection that is currently available in digital and physical CD edition with a special upcoming 2LP 12” vinyl edition that hits stores on March 16. This special soundtrack was assembled after the film’s director/writer Greta Gerwig wrote personal letters to the artists who performed these songs to get their blessing to use these songs for the film, which is set in 2002 in an all-Catholic girls high school in Sacramento, California.
In the comedy-drama film Lady Bird, Gerwig (Frances Ha, Greenberg, 20th Century Women) shapes her semi-autobiographical story of a turbulent bond between a mother and her teenage daughter, with Laurie Metcalf and Saoirse Ronan in these roles, respectively. This well-planned soundtrack enhances the experience on many levels. Listeners can imagine themselves in the film as well as the specific time period as a great nostalgic revisitation or a new, special discovery experience that bridges and compares different generations. (Note: Yours truly did see this movie before reviewing this soundtrack. Also, some of the track titles might spoil the film. If you haven’t seen it yet, go see it soon.)
This soundtrack begins with the “Prayer of St. Francis” audio excerpt from the film and then lashes into Alanis Morissette’s hit “Hand in My Pocket,“ a modern day classic that gets some supplementary attention during an interior sequence in a car where awestruck Lady Bird reveals some background on the song’s creation. It’s a great song to begin with as Lady Bird‘s empowerment is quickly established along with the film’s overall tone.
“Little of Your Love” (a.k.a. “Give Me Just a Little of Your Love”) by HAIM is a unique modern song with great syncopation and background vocals. This is a catchy tune with effective, subtle guitar work as the vocals close the song. It was originally written for Trainwreck but was never used in that comedy. It’s a great song built for film, plus Paul Thomas Anderson directed the music video.
“Panis Angelicus” (Latin for “Bread of Angels”) by the Adolf Fredrik Girls Choir is a quiet, peaceful work that was written by Saint Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi, and it is followed by the film audio excerpt “It’s given to me – by me.”
“Days of Steam” by John Cale (The Velvet Underground) has a rhythm and melody that initially recalled the chorus from “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” plus great trumpet arrangements. The seventh song “As We Go Along” (from the 1968 Head film soundtrack) by The Monkees has a great guitar beginning, and then it’s another quick dialogue from the film titled “Center of Attention.”
The “Overture” (from Merrily We Roll Along) by Original Broadway Cast and Orchestra from the 1938 musical with lyrics and music by Stephen Sondheim (based on George Furth’s 1934 play) has great horn arrangements and nice changes in tempo. The middle drum solo could have been longer, but the percussion drives right into the next movement.
“Crash Into Me” by Dave Matthews Band continues this emotional experience as the only song over five minutes. This group’s defining work is followed by another very familiar titled song “Happy Birthday” by Altered Images, which is a punk rock gem with lead vocals best described as pleasant-sounding yelling. This song, which was also featured in the 1984 film Sixteen Candles, gets a bit too repetitive near the end.
Next is the most memorable dialogue from the film titled “City College” (you can even guess what’s happening without any of the film’s visuals) followed by the enjoyable ska punk tune “Snoop Dog, Baby” by Reel Big Fish, which is short enough at three minutes and 25 seconds to avoid any lacking appeal from too much repetition.
The pleasant “Always See Your Face” by Love has piano and horns paired with vocals and percussion. Then the familiar “Waltz of the Flowers” (from Tchaikovsky’s Flower Waltz arrangement from The Nutcracker) is well performed by the St. Louis Symphony.
Next comes my favorite song on this soundtrack, “This Eve of Parting” by John Hartford. This eclectic work mixes genres in an appealing way that sticks in a listener’s memory. Great lyrics and even swelling violins represent the wide range in this strong song. It is followed by the audio film excerpt “Wrong Side of the Tracks.”
Ani Di Franco’s classic “Little Plastic Castles” begins like a ballad and then channels in that signature California ska in the second longest song (4:05) on this strong soundtrack. The musicianship is there, but this song is a great choice due to the social commentary it brings. My amazing wife shared how she sees the image of being like a fish in the fishbowl with the little plastic castle. The castle we get (from society) is always new, but it’s only when we realize it’s the same thing being repeatedly presented to us when our view changes and we can see the world differently.
“Tha Crossroads,” performed by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony foursome Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, and Wish Bone, is another modern day classic/tribute song with rhythmic lyrics and sing-along harmonies.
The beautiful “Rosa Mystica” by The University of Notre Dame Folk Choir evokes great emotion with layered a cappella (vocal) arrangements. It’s a stellar four-minute work that can stir the heart in great ways.
This soundtrack ends with the final dialogue excerpt from the film, “Let’s Just Sit.”
Legacy Recordings’ Lady Bird soundtrack comes highly recommended (3.5 stars) and is available in explicit and edited versions.
Lady Bird is currently the best-reviewed film ever on Rotten Tomatoes and stars Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Lois Smith. It was also nominated for several Academy Awards (a.k.a. Oscars) for picture (already a Golden Globe winner for best musical/comedy), original screenplay, director, actress (Ronan, who also won a Golden Globe) and supporting actress. The soundtrack of Jon Brion’s musical score is also available.
- “Prayer of St.Francis” +
- “Hand in My Pocket” – Alanis Morissette
- “Little of Your Love” – HAIM
- “Panis Angelicus” – Adolf Fredrik Girls Choir
- “It’s given to me – by me” +
- “Days of Steam” – John Cale
- “As We Go Along” – The Monkees
- “Center of Attention” +
- “Overture” (from Merrily We Roll Along) – Original Broadway Cast and Orchestra
- “Crash Into Me” – Dave Matthews Band
- “Happy Birthday” – Altered Images
- “City College” +
- “Snoop Dog, Baby” – Reel Big Fish
- “Always See Your Face” – Love
- “Waltz of the Flowers” – St.Louis Symphony
- “This Eve of Parting” – John Hartford
- “Wrong Side of the Tracks” +
- “Little Plastic Castles” – Ani Di Franco
- “Tha Crossroads” – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
- “Rosa Mystica” – The University of Notre Dame Folk Choir
- “Let’s Just Sit” +
+ Audio taken from the film Lady Bird