High Fidelity – The Music, The Misery, and the Playlist

If you’re anything like me you’ve seen High Fidelity (the 2000 movie starring John Cusack) or read the book, or both. If you’re a lot like me, you’ve wanted to make a playlist of the music in the movie, have bought the soundtrack, and over the years have slowly grown your collection from there to include more of the stuff not on the CD. And if you want a list of the songs in the movie, they’re all listed in the credits very clearly and it’s easy enough to pause on them and jot it all down.

But, if you’re pretty much JUST me, you’ve also wanted a definitive list of the music referenced but NOT played in the movie. The songs and artists they just talk about. The t-shirts they wear and the posters so clearly visible in Rob’s apartment. The major record sleeves and labels clearly visible in significant ways or that glaringly stick out in the background. The stuff that most of the audience should never care about because why the hell WOULD they?

Well, Me…I’ve made you a list. I’ve seen the movie probably dozens of times. But I rewatched it this past weekend with a notebook resting on my lap and was furiously making a list of the above items. There are surely some I missed. Some of the record-store shots pass by so quickly and there are so many records on the shelves that I would’ve been making the list for weeks if I had to freeze frame all of it. And although something tells me that one day I’ll do exactly that if I ever take a vacation…for now, I’ve just listed what I saw and heard. Even if there are some missing it’s still a hell of a lot more than anyone else has done!

So, we’ll start with the easy part for those who just want to save this in a note in their phone and check off what they want. (Of COURSE I’ve got that note in my phone.) We’ll start with the stuff listed in the credits…then we’ll get nuts.  I even looked into the deleted scenes, kids…and I looked into a few I didn’t know anything about because some of them might’ve been music JUST used for the movie–or in a couple of very odd cases bands and albums that were completely made up and never existed at all! So I did the hard work for you, basically, and I explain that where it’s relevant.

I know this post isn’t for everybody. I’ll be a little surprised if it’s for anybody. But here we go. (And yes, I also intend to re-read the book at a later date and make a list from that too since it’s mostly different artists–but one step at a time…)

Songs As Listed in the Credits:

  • 13th Floor Elevators – “You’re Gonna Miss Me”
  • Bow Wow Wow – “I Want Candy”
  • Elton John – “Crocodile Rock”
  • Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – “Crimson and Clover”
  • Belle and Sebastian – “Seymour Stein”
  • Rush – “Jacob’s Ladder” (Barry is singing the guitar solo when he enters the store for the first time in the movie.)
  • Katrina and the Waves – “Walking on Sunshine”
  • Liz Phair – “Baby Got Going”
  • Brother JT3 – “Little Did I Know” (Musician local to Pennsylvania–couldn’t find much more about him.)
  • John Wesley Harding – “I’m Wrong About Everything”
  • Ann Peebles – “I Can’t Stand the Rain”
  • Bruce Springsteen – “The River”
  • Peter Frampton – “Baby I Love Your Way” (Although obviously not performed by Frampton in the movie–it’s performed the Marie DeSalle character.)
  • The Vaselines – “Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam”
  • Smog – “Cold Blooded Old Times”
  • Edith Frost – “On Hold”
  • Goldie – “Hyena 1”
  • Barry White – “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little Bit More Babe”
  • Love – “Always See Your Face”
  • Plush – “Soaring and Boring”
  • The Chemical Brothers – “Leave Home”
  • John Etkin-Bell – “Four to the Floor”
  • Toby Bricheno and Jan Cryka – “Loopfest”
  • Velvet Underground – “Who Loves the Sun”
  • Illinois Jacquet – “Robbin’s Nest”
  • Aretha Franklin – “Rock Steady”
  • Stiff Little Fingers – “Suspect Device”
  • Beta Band – “Dry the Rain”
  • Queen – “We Are the Champions”
  • Al Green – “I’m Glad You’re Mine”
  • Love – “Your Friend and Mine”
  • Elvis Costello – “Shipbuilding”
  • Bob Dylan – “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You”
  • Grand Funk Railroad – “Get it Together”
  • Shelia Nicholls – “Fallen for You”
  • Velvet Underground – “Oh! Sweet Nuthin'”
  • Harbhajhn Singh – “This India”
  • De La Soul – “Tread Water”
  • Harry Nilsson – “The Moonbeam Song”
  • Eric B. & Rakim – “Juice (Know the Ledge)”
  • Apartment 26 – “Doing It Anyway”
  • Eric B. & Rakim – “What’s On Your Mind”
  • Sy Smith – “Good and Strong”
  • Sir Douglas Quintet – “Mendocino”
  • Royal Trux – “The Inside Game”
  • Paper Lace – “The Night Chicago Died” (In parody form, sung by Barry as “The Night Laura’s Daddy Died.”)
  • Dick Walter – “Chapel of Rest”
  • Bob Dylan – “Most of the Time”
  • Jackie Wilson – “I Get the Sweetest Feeling”
  • Stereolab – “Lo Boob Oscillator”
  • The Roots – “The Anti-Circle”
  • The Kinks – “Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy”
  • High Llamas – “Homespun Remix”
  • Rupert Gregson-Williams – “Hit the Street”
  • Marvin Gaye – “Let’s Get it On”
  • Stevie Wonder – “I Believe (When I Fall in Love with You it Will be Forever)”
  • Love (written by Burt Bacharach) “My Little Red Book”

Music Referenced in Dialogue (But Not Actually Played in the Movie):

  • Carly Simon
  • James Taylor
  • Carol King
  • Cat Stevens
  • The Smiths
  • Frank Zappa
  • Licorice Comfits – “Testament of Youth” / “Pop Girls, Etc.” (Per this article, this is a fake band invented for the dialogue of the movie–which they do a couple times in the movie, so convincingly you might think they’re real. It’s a weird device that is made weirder by how much real music is openly discussed in the movie with some level of authority. And also, in the movie, I’m pretty sure he says “Licorice Confidence.” But whatever.)
  • Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and/or The Righteous Brothers – “Little Latin Lupe Lu”
  • Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
  • Johnny Cash
  • Stevie Wonder – “I Just Called to Say I Love You”
  • Deep Purple
  • Howlin’ Wolf
  • Fleetwood Mac – “Landslide”
  • “#4 With A Smile” – (A fake song also invented for the dialogue. I’ve had this argument and I’m right. Google it. There’s not a song called that. I don’t care if you’re sure you’ve seen it on a shelf or heard it. You’re wrong. It’s fake.)
  • The Clash – “Janie Jones”
  • Kansas – “Point of Know Return”
  • Velvet Underground – “White Light/White Heat”
  • Massive Attack – “Radiation Ruling the Nation”
  • Beatles
  • Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony
  • Captain Beefheart – “Safe As Milk”
  • Supertramp
  • Echo and the Bunnymen – “The Killing Moon EP”
  • The Jesus and Mary Chain
  • Green Day
  • Bob Dylan – “Blonde on Blonde”
  • Minutemen – “Double Nickels on the Dime” (I’m pretty sure that’s the album. It’s one of the albums stolen from the shop that you see when it’s put on the ground by the thieves. Technically not in dialogue, but important enough to the scene that I’m mentioning it here rather than as a background image.)
  • Brian Eno – “Music for [something]” – I’m not sure which of the “Music for” albums it is, as the title is obscured. Same scene. Same reason for listing it here.
  • Sigue Sigue Sputnik (Same scene, but actually mentioned.)
  • Ryuici Sakamoto (Same scene, but mentioned.)
  • Breakbeats (Same scene, mentioned in dialogue. But this might be a fake band or a compilation. I can’t find any info online.)
  • Serge Gainsbourg (Same scene, mentioned.)
  • Joni Mitchell (Same scene, mentioned.)
  • Charlie Rich – “Behind Closed Doors”
  • Chrissie Hynde
  • Sex Pistols
  • David Byrne
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Wilson Pickett
  • Solomon Burke
  • Rolling Stones
  • Otis Redding
  • The Memphis Horns
  • Pop Abrams and the Smurfs (Although in real life it’s actually Father Abraham and The Smurfs. Unsure if it was a flubbed line or an intentional reference to Papa Smurf or a weird series of coincidences, but it’s possible that they were actually trying to make up a fake band name.)
  • Kraftwerk
  • Falco
  • David Hasselhoff – (He really did have a singing career and was beloved in Germany. Not everybody knows that in 2020, or in the year 2000 when the movie came out, I bet.)
  • The Shangri-Las – “The Leader of the Pack”
  • Jan & Dean – “Dead Man’s Curve”
  • Ray Peterson – “Tell Laura I Love Her”
  • Madness – “One Step Beyond”
  • Rolling Stones – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
  • Gordon Lightfoot – “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”
  • Jimmy Cliff – “Many Rivers to Cross”
  • Gladys Knight – “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”
  • Art Garfunkel
  • Neil Sedaka – “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” (Debatable–but I think it was an intentional reference right at the end of the movie.)

Music Referenced in the Deleted Scenes (But not Played–No music was played in the deleted scenes):

  • James Cotton – “My Baby” – (Record label that was focused on. Integral enough I’m counting it here.)
  • Roy Orbison – “Only the Lonely” – (Same.)
  • Sex Pistols – “God Save the Queen” (Same.)
  • Otis Redding
  • Flying Burrito Brothers – “Sin City”
  • The Damned – “New Rose”
  • Funkadelic – “Hit It and Quit It”
  • Elvis Costello – “Shipbuilding”
  • Elvis Presley – “Mystery Train”
  • Sly and the Family Stone – “Spaced Cowboy”
  • Blue Cheer – “Summertime Blues”
  • Lee Scratch Perry – “The Upsetter”
  • Led Zeppelin (I assume) – “Moby Dick”
  • Skip Spence
  • Minutemen
  • Zombies
  • David Bowie – “Sound & Vision”
  • The Standells – “Dirty Water”
  • Patti Smith – “Dancing Barefoot”
  • WAR – “Me & My Baby Brother”
  • Bill Withers – “Grandma’s Hands”
  • Tina Turner

Noticeable in the Background or on T-Shirts/Posters:

  • Of Montreal
  • Bauhaus
  • Pretenders
  • Sex Pistols
  • The Damned
  • Juliana Hatfield
  • Solomon Burke
  • Miles Davis
  • Ladybug Transistor
  • Claudia Malibu
  • Pavement
  • MC5
  • Rolling Stones
  • Motorhead
  • Love & Rockets
  • The Falling Wallendas (One of my all time top five band names. They’re local to Chicago if memory serves. I’m unclear on if they’re still together.)
  • Urge Overkill
  • Yanni
  • NOFX

Well that took too long. Thanks for taking too long with me. Next time I’ll write something that someone else might potentially care about reading. 🙂


Current Listening: I’ve been working my way through the complete Rush discography ever since Neil Peart died.  I did an episode of my podcast all about that on the day it happened. Go listen to that. Neil’s work was very important to me and it still bums me out that he’s gone.

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