Awards season has officially drawn to a close, but I’m still not ready to move on from this season’s films–especially Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. From the star-studded cast to Quentin Tarantino’s iconic quirky style, there is so much to love about this movie. But what stood out to me most, was the music.
Not to be that obnoxious “I-was-born-in-the-wrong-generation” girl, but… I honestly may have been. If you look through my Spotify library, you’ll think it belongs to my dad, or maybe even my grandpa. So it’s no wonder that I appreciated the film’s retro soundtrack which features Bob Seger, Neil Diamond, and Simon & Garfunkel–to name a few. After seeing this movie, my love for 60’s music was reaffirmed which inspired me to make this little playlist that will transport you back to Hollywood in 1969. But maybe this time, we can leave the Manson Family out of it.
To enhance your listening experience, just imagine Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt) is driving you around Los Angeles in his 1964 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.
“Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” by Neil Diamond
This song played in just about every trailer, so naturally it goes to the top of the list.
“California Soul” by The 5th Dimension
There wasn’t much about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that I disliked, besides the fact that there wasn’t nearly enough soul. I think The 5th Dimension’s cover of “California Soul” would’ve been perfect for the film.
“Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful
I don’t know why, but this song always reminded me of L.A.
“Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Even though it was set during the Vietnam War, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood wasn’t really a counterculture, anti-war-type movie. However, “Fortunate Son” was one of the top protest songs that defined this era, and it would feel wrong to leave it out.
“Nights in White Satin” by The Moody Blues
Just listen–the song speaks for itself.
“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie
This is just a cute little song that totally encapsulates California hippie culture of the 60’s–or at least, what my Gen Z self imagined it to be.
“Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield
“Son of a Preacher Man” was in another Tarantino classic, Pulp Fiction, so I figured it was only fitting to include it here too.
“Helter Skelter” by The Beatles
Okay, I know I said no Mansons, but I just had to put this one in here. Paul McCartney wrote “Helter Skelter” about a playground slide, but Charles Manson was convinced that there was a deeper meaning behind the lyrics, believing that it alluded to the necessity for a violent race war. Furthermore, this song was supposedly Manson’s inspiration behind murdering Sharon Tate (played by Margot Robbie) and Leno & Rosemary LaBianca. He even wrote “Healter [sic] Skelter” on the LaBiancas’ refrigerator with their blood. Gruesome.
“Think” by Aretha Franklin
Some more soul, this time by the queen herself.
“Piece of My Heart” by Big Brother and the Holding Company
This one might have been a little too psychedelic for the film, but Cliff Booth did have a major LSD trip towards the end. So I guess it works?
“Ruby Tuesday” by The Rolling Stones
Just a classic Stones song.
“The Letter” by The Box Tops
As much as I love Joe Cocker’s cover, nothing beats the original.
“A Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon & Garfunkel
Mrs. Robinson was featured in the film, but I think this song deserves some love too. It’s not one of their most popular ones, but, in my humble opinion, it’s one of their best.
“The Beat Goes On” by Sonny & Cher
Sonny & Cher. It doesn’t get much more 60’s than this.
“Twelve Thirty” by The Mamas & The Papas
I started this playlist with a song from the soundtrack, so I’m ending it with one too. I’ve always loved this song, but since hearing it in the movie, it quickly became one of my all-time favorites.