Music from the Motion Picture Pulp Fiction is the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 film Pulp Fiction. No traditional film score was commissioned for Pulp Fiction. The film contains a mix of American rock and roll, surf music, pop and soul. The soundtrack is equally untraditional, consisting of nine songs from the movie, four tracks of dialogue snippets followed by a song, and three tracks of dialogue alone. Seven songs featured in the movie were not included in the original 41-minute soundtrack.
The album reached No. 21 on the Billboard 200, while Urge Overkill’s cover of the Neil Diamond song “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” peaked at No. 59 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Tarantino used an eclectic assortment of songs by various artists. Notable songs include Dick Dale’s now-iconic rendition of “Misirlou”, which is played during the opening credits. Tarantino chose surf music for the basic score of the film because, “it just seems like rock ‘n’ roll Ennio Morricone music, rock ‘n’ roll spaghetti Western music.”
Many of the songs on the soundtrack were suggested to Tarantino by musician Boyd Rice through their mutual friend Allison Anders, including Dick Dale’s “Misirlou”. Other songs were suggested to Tarantino by his friends Chuck Kelley and Laura Lovelace, who were credited as music consultants. Lovelace also appeared in the film as Laura the waitress.
In addition to the surf-rock rendition of “Misirlou”, other notable songs include “Jungle Boogie” by Kool & the Gang, Dusty Springfield’s version of “Son of a Preacher Man”, “Flowers on the Wall” by the Statler Brothers and “Bustin’ Surfboards” by The Tornadoes, from 1962, which had been one of the first instrumental surf songs to hit the United States music charts after notables such as “Walk–Don’t Run” by the Ventures.
Excerpts of dialogue include Jules’ “Ezekiel 25:17” speech and the “Royale with Cheese” exchange between Jules and Vincent.
A two-disc collector’s edition of the album was issued in 2002 — the first disc contained the songs, including four additional tracks; and the second disc was a spoken-word interview with Tarantino.
Woody Thorne’s 1961 song “Teenagers in Love” and Link Wray’s 1965 single “Rumble” are two of the three songs missing from the collector’s edition soundtrack. The last song is unique to the movie: it is Ricky Nelson’s “Waitin’ In School” as performed by the actor Gary Shorelle, which plays as Vincent and Mia enter Jackrabbit Slim’s.
The soundtrack reached No. 21 on the Billboard 200, and at the time, went platinum (100,000 units) in Canada alone. By November 12, 1994, total sales of more than 1.6 million were reached and by 1996 over 2 million units had been sold. In 1995 the soundtrack reached No. 6 on the charts according to SoundScan.
The soundtrack helped launch the band Urge Overkill, which covered Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” (produced by Kramer) in 1993, into a mainstream market. Sony “received a nice sum” for “Son of a Preacher Man” and Kool & The Gang enjoyed a resurgence when “Jungle Boogie” was released on the soundtrack.
The Orange County Register described why the soundtrack of Pulp Fiction stood out from all the others: “Unlike so many soundtracks, which just seem to be repositories for stray songs by hit acts regardless of whether they fit the film’s mood, Tarantino’s use of music in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction exploded with a brash, Technicolor, pop-culture intensity that mirrored the stories he was telling.” Karyn Rachtman was the music supervisor on both Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.
Analyzing the success of Tarantino’s marketing, Billboard chalked up MCA’s compilation to identifying the market niche: “Pulp Fiction…successfully spoke to those attuned to the hip, stylized nature of those particular films.” The eclectic “mix-and-match strategy” is true to the film. “In some cases, like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, which were not geared toward any specific demographic, the soundtracks were still very focused albums,” said Kathy Nelson, senior VP/general manager at MCA Soundtracks. “In both cases, the body of work — both the music and the film — has a specific personality.”
In 1997, Gary Thompson of The Philadelphia Inquirer said that Pulp Fiction “reinvigorated surf rock”. That statement would be defining for Del-Fi Records, owned by legendary producer Bob Keane; the Pulp Fiction soundtrack contained two songs that were originally released on Del-Fi: Bullwinkle Pt II by The Centurions, and Surf Rider by The Lively Ones. Del-Fi Records released a compilation CD in 1995 entitled Pulp Surfin’ featuring songs by those bands plus sixteen other surf tracks from the vaults. The cover artwork was yet another parody of the Pulp Fiction movie poster.
Inspired by the soundtrack, advertisers started to use surf music in their commercials “to help sell everything from burritos to toothpaste”, making surf music hugely popular again.
More than two years after the film was released, the influence and monetary success was still being felt in the industry. “Mundane commercials using Dick Dale ’60s surf licks, the kind made popular again by the Pulp Fiction soundtrack…following a trend — in this case, a two-year-old hit movie.” (by wikipedia)
The soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s darkly funny crime classic Pulp Fiction manages to re-create the film’s wildly careening sense of style, violence, and humor by concentrating on the surf music that comprises the bulk of the movie’s incidental music and adding a few sexy oldies integral to the film’s story (“Let’s Stay Together,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” “You Never Can Tell”). Of course, the inclusion of dialogue and Urge Overkill’s seductive cover of Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” doesn’t hurt either. /by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)
Okay, boys and girls, this is trash, but what a wonderful trash !
01.1. Amanda Plummer + Tim Roth: Pumpkin And Honey Bunny (dialogue) (Tarantino)
01.2. Dick Dale & His Del-Tones: Misirlou (Wise/Leeds/Roubanis/Russell) 2.30
02. John Travolta + Samuel L. Jackson: No Artist Royale With Cheese (dialogue) (Tarantino) 1.45
03. Kool & The Gang: Jungle Boogie (Smith/Thomas/Boyce/Brown/Westfield/Robert Bell/Mickens/Ronald Bell) 3.07
04. Al Green: Let’s Stay Together (Mitchell/Green/Jackson Jr.) 3.17
05. The Tornadoes: Bustin’ Surfboards (G.Sanders/JSanders/Delaney/N.Sanders) 2.29
06. Ricky Nelson: Lonesome Town (Knight) 2.15
07. Dusty Springfield: Son Of A Preacher Man (Hurley/Wilkins) 2.28
08.1. Bruce Willis + Marie De Medeiros: Zed’s Dead, Baby (dialogue) (Tarantino)
08.2. The Centurians: Bullwinkle Part II (Rose/Furrow) 2.31
09.1. Rabbit Slims: Twist Contest (dialogue) (Tarantino)
09.2. Chuck Berry: You Never Can Tell (Berry) 3.14
10. Urge Overkill: Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon (Diamond) 3.10
11. Maria McKee: If Love Is A Red Dress (Hang Me In Rags) (McKee) 4.57
12.1. Duane Whitaker + Peter Greene: Bring Out The Gimp (dialogue) (Tarantino)
12.2. The Revels: Comanche (Hafner) 2.12
13. The Statler Brothers: Flowers On The Wall (DeWitt) 2.25
14. John Travolta + Samuel L. Jackson: Personality Goes A Long Way (dialogue) (Tarantino) 1.03
15. The Lively Ones: Surf Rider (Wilson/Edwards/Bogle) 3.20
16. Samuel L. Jackson: Ezekiel 25 – 17 (dialogue) (Tarantino) 0.52