Top 5 Movie Soundtracks of the 1960’s and 1970’s

Written by Megan Alexander January 28, 2012


The two greatest loves in my life are music and movies – so nothing makes me happier than when my two loves come together to create a great film soundtrack. In my opinion, a good film is made even better when great music by great artists are brought into the films narrative to help contribute to the story. Now, many of my favorite movies and music came out in the 1960’s and 1970’s, so I thought it only appropriate to count down the best film soundtracks from those decades. So, lets take a look and listen down memory lane as we count down the 5 best movie soundtracks from the 1960’s-1970’s, complete with a clip from each movie.

5) Super Fly (1972)

Super Fly was one of the biggest hits to come out of the Blaxplotation genre of the 1970’s. Films of the Blaxplotation genre were made to appeal towards an African American audience and many famous African American artists contributed to their soundtracks. In the case of Super Fly, the great Curtis Mayfield created a soulful and funk filled soundtrack for this out of sight film. The film centers around a cocaine hustler by the name of Priest who goes out on one last score before quitting the game. The music in Superfly contributes to the narrative by telling its own stories about the underground word of hustling (with a song like “Pusher Man”) and the hard times of African Americans living in the Harlem Ghettos (the opening song “Little Child Running Wild”).  For any lover of classic R&B, I highly recommend both the film and the soundtrack.

4) Scorpio Rising (1964)

Now where does one start when discussing a film like Scorpio Rising considering many mainstream filmgoers have probably never seen it, let alone heard about it? Well it is a short (30 minutes) experimental art house film, directed by the great Kenneth Anger and it tells the story of an underground LA Biker Gang. The story has little to no dialogue and relies on classic rock n’ roll music from the 1950’s and early 60’s to help tell its story. A key theme of this film is rebelling and it is a theme brought out through iconic symbols (posters of Marlon Brando and James Dean), fashion (leather, studs, ect) and characters (young bikers). The film itself is also quite rebellious because its style and content (which gets quite dark and twisted) goes against the structure of traditional mainstream Hollywood films. The soundtrack is also reflexive on this theme because it uses rebellious rock n’ roll. The use of rock n’ roll music (that by today’s standards seem very tame) was used in this film because of its connection to juvenile delinquency. Songs from Elvis Presley, Bobby Vinton, The Crystals and Ricky Nelson contribute to this one of a kind soundtrack for this one of a kind film.

3) Easy Rider (1969)


As we all know music is an essential part to any road trip – it makes the time go by faster and it brings the people on the trip together. Easy Rider is a film about two hog riding hippies on the road trip of a lifetime. As they travel across each state, the audience gets to listen to arguably one of the best road trip playlists ever made. The music in this film heightens and enriches the story of these traveling outcasts and it allows the audience to go along for the ride. It pumps them up for adventure with the iconic song “Born to be Wild” and then in another sequence it brings them back down to the beauty of nature with the song “Wasn’t Born to Follow”. This film was made for the counterculture youth of the late 1960’s and the soundtrack reflects on the different types of music that they listened to (Acid Rock, Hard Rock, and Folk Rock). This film is also visually stunning and the fact that an amazing soundtrack accompanies it makes it a one of a kind movie experience.

2) The Graduate (1967)

The Graduate (or to some that film with “Mrs. Robinson”) is probably one of my favorite films and is made even better with a great soundtrack. The soundtrack for this film was all written and performed by one of the greatest musical duos ever to set foot into a music studio, Simon and Garfunkel. Many know that this film is about an affair between a younger man and an older woman but at its core, this film is a coming of age story, about a generation lost in between the expectations of others and themselves. The film wanted to tap into the hearts and minds of the maturing baby boomer generation and what better ways to do so then by having one of the most influential musical groups of a generation write and perform the soundtrack. Simon and Garfunkel arguably wrote some of the greatest songs of the 1960’s and 70’s (next to Bob Dylan) so it was only a natural fit that their music, which spoke to a new generation of young adults, would be used in a film about the struggles of becoming a young adult. The soundtrack is a stunning folk symphony that touches on so many emotional cords such as melancholy (“Sound of Silence”), joy (“Mrs. Robinson”) and sadness (“April Come She Will”). A beautiful soundtrack for a beautiful film – The Graduate is both a great watch and a great listen.

1) Saturday Night Fever (1977)

An iconic soundtrack for an iconic film. The album for Saturday Night Fever is one of the most successful selling soundtrack albums of all time, staying on top of the charts for 24 weeks. The film and its soundtrack revived the dying disco phase for another year (whether that’s good or bad…I’m not sure) and it made John Travolta and the Bee Gees international stars. This soundtrack of disco hits (many written and performed by the Bee Gees) helps tell the story of young Tony Manero whose only aspirations can be found on the dancing floor. This, however, is not just another dancing film, it is about the trials and tribulations of Tony trying to find his place outside the disco hall and becoming more than what is expected of him (which is not much). The film’s narrative at times can also get quite dark as it deals with many hard-hitting issues such as racism and rape. The disco music in this film is the soundtrack of Tony’s life. This is demonstrated in the opening credits of the film, as Tony struts down the streets of Brooklyn with the classic “Stayin Alive” playing in the background. For the most part, the soundtrack is mainly made up of upbeat dance music but it does balances out with some heart-felt ballads with songs like, “More than a Woman”, and my personal favorite, “How Deep is your Love”. Disco may be dead but this film and its soundtrack will forever stay alive.


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