hmv.com presents… The Best Soundtracks of All Time: Easy Rider
With some great in-store offers starting this week on films and film soundtracks as part our 'Decades' series, every day we'll be picking the best soundtrack, one for every year, starting with 1950 right through to the present day. Today we're up to 1969 and we’re looking at revolutionary American classic Easy Rider...
Easy Rider, Dennis Hopper’s ground-breaking counterculture biker movie.
So what’s the film about?
Peter Fonda and director Dennis Hopper star as Wyatt and Billy, two bikers who make a big score by smuggling a shipment of cocaine over the Mexican boarder. After shifting the drugs to their LA connection, they decide to head down New Orleans in order to enjoy their hard earn cash at Mardi Gras.
What follows is a cross-country road trip as Wyatt and Billy experience the social change overtaking America at the end of the Sixties. They befriend hard working farmers, a hippy commune and civil liberties activists, run afoul of police officers and rednecks, and introduce a young Jack Nicholson to marijuana.
Is this a score or a soundtrack?
A soundtrack of contemporary late Sixties songs.
So what’s it like?
It’s a collection of fantastic late Sixties rock. It spans everything that was exciting in American music at the time, from psychedelia (The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s ‘If 6 Was 9’), to folk rock (Roger McGuinn’s ‘Ballad Of Easy Rider’, co-written by Bob Dylan) to proto-heavy metal (Steppenwolf’s ‘Born To Be Wild’)
What does it give the film?
This approach of using a collection of contemporary songs, as opposed to an instrumental score written for the film, was absolutely ground breaking at the time. The film is a landmark of counterculture, and it became a national phenomenon at a point when America was going through massive social and cultural change. The soundtrack only adds to this, featuring contributions from artists such Jimi Hendrix, The Byrds and Bob Dylan, who were a vital part of these changes in attitudes. The soundtrack perfectly documents this era, and the movement that Easy Rider was part of.
Plus, it sound really good if you play it really loud whilst riding a motorbike.
What’s the best moment?
The opening titles, with ‘Born To Be Wild’ coming roaring over Billy and Wyatt as they get their motor running, head out on the highway and look for adventure. It’s still one of the coolest moments ever in American cinema.
Has it stood the test of time?
Some of the songs may no longer have the impact they once had – ‘Born To Be Wild’ has lost some of its power from being constantly re-used and parodied – but it’s still a fantastic selection of songs and an important social document.