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American Graffiti - The Music

"The music acts like a Greek chorus to comment on the events taking place." Walter Murch

American Graffiti is one of the first films to use music almost exclusively from records. Initially Mr. Lucas selected almost 80 popular "era" songs from his personal collection, but the $80,000 budget could only afford 41 licenses, so many songs were scrubbed including Elvis Presley's. He used music to create a realistic, documentary feel, whereas in most films, music is used to build drama.

Sound artist Walter Murch re-recorded all of the songs to create the reality of the situation. Speakers were placed between buildings, on streets, in the gym, etc., so that, for example, music coming from a passing car actually sounded so.

When Laurie and Steve begin the snowball dance at the Freshman Hop dancing to Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, the music enhances the viewer's perception of the emotional situation between the two of them. Acoustically, it begins with a big gymnasium feel. Then, as the scene focuses on their intimacy, it is compressed to sound more like what people would hear inside of their heads.

The music (Barbara Ann) reaches its most ethereal crescendo in the scene where, after Curt is kicked out of Bobbie's car, he runs up the street in an attempt to catch the white T-bird and ends up standing alone in an intersection (Western and Kentucky Streets in front of what is now Couches Etc., Petaluma).

 

SONG
ARTIST
Rock Around the Clock Bill Haley & the Comets
Sixteen Candles The Crests
Runaway Del Shannon
Why Do Fools Fall in Love Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers
That'll be the Day Buddy Holly
Fanny Mae Buster Brown
At the Hop Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids
She's So Fine Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids
The Stroll The Diamonds
See You in September The Tempos
Surfin' Safari The Beach Boys
He's the Great Imposter The Fleetwoods
Almost Grown Chuck Berry
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes The Platters
Little Darlin' The Diamonds
Peppermint Twist Joey Dee & the Starlighters
Barbara Ann The Regents
Book of Love The Monotones
Maybe Baby Buddy Holly
Ya Ya Lee Dorsey
The Great Pretender The Platters
Ain't That a Shame Fats Domino
Johnny B. Goode Chuck Berry
I Only Have Eyes for You The Flamingos
Get a Job The Silhouettes
To the Aisle The Five Satins
Do You Wanna Dance Bobby Freeman
Party Doll Buddy Knox
Come Go with Me The Del-Vikings
You're Sixteen, You're Beautiful Johnny Burnette
Love Potion No. 9 The Clovers
Since I Don't Have You The Skyliners
Chantilly Lace The Big Bopper
Teen Angel Mark Dinning
Crying in the Chapel Sonny Till & the Orioles
A Thousand Miles Away The Heartbeats
Heart and Soul The Cleftones
Green Onions Booker T. & the M.G.'s
Only You (and You Alone) The Platters
Goodnight, Well It's Time to Go The Spaniels
All Summer Long The Beach Boys

 

 
 
 
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