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by Natasha Theobald

Some compilations of music seems to strike a certain chord with the listener, to fit a certain mood. In that respect, the soundtrack from BEAUTIFUL GIRLS finds sort of a unique niche, with representatives from a broad range of genres and eras. The mood is one of nostalgia and romantic ennui. The overriding themes include love, longing, and loneliness. I like best to hear it when I am homesick or heartsick -- missing a time, a place, or someone I used to know. The result is never sadness, though, but always a certain satisfaction, a sigh of relief. By the time Neil Diamond is singing "Sweet Caroline" at the end, I am ready to move on.

Things get started with Roland Gift of Fine Young Cannibals fame. If you remember, his voice is as unique as his look. Here he is singing a declaration, "That's How Strong My Love Is." He is backed with some jazzy, sexy horns, and, apparently, he is offering all of himself and more to the subject of the song. The combination of sweetness and near desperation gets us ready for the rest.

One of the great songs of all time is here. You may know it, or you may remember when Turk sang it to Carla. I'm talking "Me and Mrs. Jones," with its near justification of cheating and enjoying it. We've got a thing going on. We both know that it's wrong, but it's much too strong to let it go now. Billy Paul sings with such emotion and breathy sensuality that you can't help but feel it with him.

Another of my all time favorite songs shows up a little later. Track 12 is "Groove Me," courtesy of King Floyd. If you can hear it and not move, I don't know what to think. It manages to be upbeat and seductive, with a little grunting and screaming thrown in for good measure. With a lyric like Sock it to me! and an insistent, grooving rhythm, the intention is definitely not ambiguous in any way.

I am not a Kiss person, unless I love songs that I don't know are theirs, somehow. I certainly wouldn't have guessed that they were the artists behind "Beth." It is a beautiful tune which sings to the woman left lonely at home while the singer is with the band. He knows what she needs, and he just can't give it to her. It is honest and melancholy. He is torn, but it is clear that nothing will change. She will always be waiting.

Another group brings to mind a divisive time in our pop culture history. If I remember correctly, there were two camps. There were those who loved "Push Th' Little Daisies" and those who absolutely could not stand it. I, for one, loved it, but, in case you didn't, this song from Ween sounds nothing like it. "I'll Miss You" plays it straight. Don't feel so bad. It was nice what we had. It seems to be an extraordinarily well-adjusted break-up song.

Clearly there is too much here to talk about it all. In addition to the songs menitoned, there are two tracks from The Afghan Whigs, one from Howlin' Maggie, "Graduation Day" from Chris Isaak, "Suffering" performed by Satchel, and, appropriately, "Beautiful Girl" from Pete Droge and The Sinners. The diverse mix also includes a couple of older songs, "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" from The Spinners and The Diamonds with "The Stroll."

The overall effect of listening is transformative. Even if you start out ready to wallow, by the end, you will likely feel better despite yourself. A couple of songs may even have you up to dance or on the phone, dialing your own Mrs. Jones.

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originally posted: 04/20/06 04:49:38
last updated: 04/26/06 19:52:53
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