Empire Records is still one of my top five movies of all time. It’s no wonder this journal ended up saluting that movie in name. Playing the soundtrack now, I remember that it’s one of my favourite CDs, a CD I can play start to finish without hesitation, any day of the week.
What is it about a cult classic film about the ‘slackers and dreamers’ working in a record store that keeps me so enraptured? What about this film, this film I saw when I was 15, still resonates so clearly for me? Is it the setting: my dream job as a teenager? Is it the biting sarcasm and pointed jabs at mainstream music and capitalism? Is it the bizarre cast of characters, each one holding a facet of my personality?
Maybe it’s all of the above. That, and the music: the soundtrack to this wonderful, weird film is a perfect blend of the well known and more obscure.
Would the film succeed in drawing me in without the choices in music made by the creators? Would the chase of Warren by Lucas be as fun without The Meices singing ‘Ready, Steady, Go’? Would another song be as fun to watch Gina sing as Sugarhigh? What would the head shaving be without The Martinis?
I don’t think it would. I think that’s what makes the film endure: the characters and their stories play out on a perfect sonic landscape. Each song takes me back to both the 90’s and the specific scenes in that film, and in turn, those scenes take me back to my teenage years. I am every character in that film, except Mitchell (but he doesn’t count due to slime factor). Even today, I still see myself reflected back at me when the DVD goes in.
My life is a record store. And I like it that way.