Criterion Edition: The Music Of 'Bottle Rocket'

“Get back in positions, assholes!”

Back when Wes Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited” was about to come out, we did a many features on the music of the director’s films including “Bottle Rocket,” though mostly on the music featured in his movies and missing from the soundtrack CDs. Especially during the Wes’ early days, he really couldn’t get that many CD song licensing, which meant no Rolling Stones, no Love, no Oliver Onions (they’re track rules, btw, more in a sec).

We don’t want to reshash that territory completely (it’s all in depth here), but we thought we’d post some music from both the 11-minute black-and-white short featured on the new Criterion Collection edition DVD and the feature itself.

Plus, we wanted to provide some A/V context, so we posted our favorite musical moment from the short which uses Vince Guaraldi’s wonderful “Skating” from his famous Peanuts Christmas record to the a montage of the “Bottle Rocket” trio buying and trying out guns to use for their robbery. It illustrates Wes’ proclivities perfectly, including his good taste in music, his affinity for musical montages and how he’s loved Guaraldi for some time now. His films have plenty of references to Charlie Brown and “Peanuts” too – just like “Rushmore’s” Max Fisher, Charlie Brown’s dad was a barber and “The Royal Tenebaums” uses some Peanuts Xmas music too. In fact, “Bottle Rocket” the short uses two Guaraldi pieces, “Skating” and “Happiness Is”

Love and The Rolling Stones are great and everyone loves them, but it’s the lesser-known tracks that are so splendidly used in the film, like Abelardo Vásquez – “Préndeme La Vela” that pops up when we’re first introduced to Inez’s character (Lumi Cavazos) and Anthony (Luke Wilson) is immediately ga-ga for her. Another fantastic and under-appreciated song is “Zorro is Back” by Oliver Onions used in the fireworks/on-the-lam montage. Wes jacked the song from the 1975 film “Zorro,” starring the great Alain Delon and admitted so in the Criterion commentary (here’s the awesome trailer with the song in question).

Some notes from The Criterion Commentary track
– Wes had planned the music in Dignan’s hot-wiring/car stealing scene – The Proclaimers‘ “It’s Over and Done With” – out for years. “We rehearsed it for years,” he said.
– Producer James L. Brooks really helped us them with the script. “We did a re-write for over a year, “Wilson said. “Ever since then, when we’re writing, I hear Jim’s voice asking those basic questions. Owen Wilson: “I think if Jim was a musical group, you’d have all his albums.”
The use of The Rolling Stones’ “2000 Man”: “I had it in mind and had it set aside for a longtime,” Anderson notes. Marty Scorsese says of that moment: “And I also love the scene in ‘Bottle Rocket’ when Owen Wilson’s character, Dignan, says, “They’ll never catch me, man, ’cause I’m fuckin’ innocent.” Then he runs off to save one of his partners in crime and gets captured by the police, over “2000 Man” by the Rolling Stones. “
– “The music is thrilling,” Owen Wilson says of the exquisite use of the Love song, “Alone Or Again,” that soundtracks the remarkable making-love scene between Anthony and Inez (it is admittedly wonderful and excerpted below). This leads them to talk about the composer Mark Mothersbaugh, “He came to the [terrible test] screening and he was the only other person in the audience that liked it.”
– It’s interesting to note that Anderson said in “The Royal Tenenbaums” commentary track that he wanted to end “Bottle Rocket” with the melancholy Bob Dylan’s song, “Billy – Main Title” (from Dylan’s score to the Peckinpah 1968 movie, “Billy The Kid,”), but couldn’t afford the rights to it back then (instead that song is used in Tenenbaums when Royal”s fake-cancer schema is revealed and he’s kicked out of the house).

Below, a ton of related music and musical context. Two songs that we failed to note in our original “Bottle Rocket” music piece: Artie Shaw’s Looney Tunes-like jazz tune, “The Chant,” opens up the 13-minute short, and in yet another display of affinity for drum solos pre-Mark Mothersbaugh, Art Blakey’s “Nothing But Soul” is also featured in the film. Both songs are included below.