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The Stones vs. The Murphys: The Departed Soundtrack

Martin Scorsese’s inclusion and admiration for The Rolling Stones has been well documented in his numerous films, most notably the use of ‘Gimmie Shelter’ in Goodfellas, Casino and The Departed and his concert film Shine a Light. By no means did Scorsese give rise to the Stones popularity, nor did he awaken them from a slump of obscurity—he may have help them transcend the boundary of rock band to monolithic creature with his continual and added placement of their songs, garnering them space and presence within movie goers minds, but that’s another story.  What Scorsese did do with The Departed soundtrack was allow the Stones the ample room in his film, but somehow cast them into the side view of memorable movie moments; Scorsese ignited a fire and renewed the flame of the Dropkick Murphys instead.

The Dropkick Murphys track ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston’ works in perfect juxtaposition to the opening track, unsurprisingly, The Rolling Stone’s ‘Gimmie Shelter’. The latter is slick and seductive, blending the sounds of atrocities occurring within the streets of Boston with the potential solutions, whereas the former is an aggressive, harsh and authentically Celtic barrage of brutality and intense narratives of Irish life. ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston’ is an anthem all onto its own now, but one that got another injection of life framing scenes of imprisonment and drug raids. Each section of the song chosen for the movie capitalized on not only the intent of the audience watching the movie but the raw and surging power of the moment. The Dropkick Murphys seem to have been catapulted to fame by the perfection of Scorsese’s ability to match scene, song and feeling. However, if there ever were to be a song characterizing and championing Scorsese’s Boston cop versus criminal epic, then there would definitely be no other choice than this. That is just a fact.

Ending on the note of a cover of Don Gibson’s ‘Sweet Dreams’ by Roy Buchanan has the same effect of perfection as the Dropkick Murphys’ inclusions. It feels as though it is the last breath to a movie so full of twists and turns that it is utterly exhausted and a sense of finality and an almost comedic redemption. It has a simple hint of irony with a subtleness that makes the songs presence a bit cheeky and playful while still holding the solidarity of a just ending.

Although the soundtrack listing is precise and eclectic, though overall very Scorsese, there are some exceptions from songs on the film compared to the soundtrack, most notably ‘Gimmie Shelter’ by The Rolling Stones, ‘Well Well Well’ by John Lennon and the Act II Sextet from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. Barring any obvious rational not encountered, the reasoning could stem from overuse of songs all the way to the confines of track numbers. It seems strange to leave out songs as omnipresent as ‘Gimmie Shelter’—especially since it was used twice in the film—and the Donizetti piece because it seems to be somewhat of theme song for the character Frank Costello, it is his cell phone ring after all.

So, Scorsese continues his endless supply of classic soundtracks, songs and inspirational artists, making another grand submission to the art of movie making  and if anything ,the new wave of athletic superstars have him to thanks for his contributions to their opening night theme song because betting all odds, everyone is now using ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston’.

1. Comfortably Numb – Rogers Waters feat. Van Morrison & The Band
2. Sail On, Sailor – The Beach Boys
3. Let It Loose – The Rolling Stones
4. Sweet Dreams – Roy Buchanan
5. One Way Out – The Allman Brothers Band
6. Baby Blue – Badfinger
7. I’m Shipping Up To Boston – Dropkick Murphys
8. Nobody But Me – The Human Beinz
9. Tweedle Dee – LaVern Baker
10. Sweet Dreams (Of You) – Patsy Cline
11. The Departed Tango – Howard Shore Featuring Marc Ribot (dobro) and
12. Beacon Hill – Howard Shore Performed by Sharon Isbin

– Kaitlin McNabb