Its a sound track, its a mixtape. In Jim Jarmuschs new film Broken Flowers, a neighbor gives Bill Murrays shiftless main character some music for a road trip, dusky and curious Ethiopian jazz from bandleader Mulatu Astatke. Beautiful as jazz but taken for left and right turns, it sounds vaguely familiar but also foreign and, yes, totally exotic. In other words, its the perfect shit for a mix. Jarmuschs films have always shown the eye of an offhand genius, and he gives the music for Broken Flowers that same feel. A scratchy recording of the Tennors rock-steady lope Ride the Donkey flows into Marvin Gayes I Want You, while the Greenhornes collaborate with Holly Golightly for the sashaying Dusty Springfield nod There is an End, a song to begin a late-summer mix if there ever was one. (Golightly and the Greenhornes also contribute tracks separately.) Astatkes nimbly funky Yegelle Tezeta is irresistible, and including an excerpt of Sleeps doom metal juggernaut Dopesmoker is the kind of masterstroke only music nerds and white-haired celluloid wildcards make. That Awesome Mixtape No. 6 you planned on crafting back in June never materialized, did it? Dont worry. With Broken Flowers, Jarmusch has your back.
Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].