Per Gessle shared some of his favourite songs and soundtracks on Pure Throwback Radio channel’s special, Music Hits Essentials on Apple Music. You can listen to Per’s fave songs from the world of movies HERE! Mr. G was so well-prepared and very informative. He even knows such details like who plays the guitar in a theme song. Impressive! Fab song choices and an exquisite guest program leader make an awesome almost-2-hour-long entertainment.
The program starts with the intro of Listen To Your Heart and Per telling:
I’m Per Gessle of Roxette and today we’re going to the movies. Playing some of my favourite songs of the silver screen, A list anthems and blockbuster ballads, including a few select Roxette classics. So listen in and listen to your heart, because I hope some of today’s movie magic evokes some special memories for you too.
Per goes on:
I’m here to talk a bit about movies and music, great songs in great pictures. Music and movies go hand in hand together, we all know that. Smart directors use music in an intelligent way to enhance a scene or to build or intensify something visually. As part of the audience you can’t really escape or ignore it. It’s the perfect weapon.
PG thinks there are so many great songs that come to mind when he goes back to certain movies. Think about all the Bond films, for instance. He grew up in the ’60s and was totally overwhelmed by James Bond. „He was so armed and so extremely dangerous.” Mr. G was way too young to see the films at the time, but his brother did and he told Per all about them. All about the cars, the guns and gizmos, all about the girls. Per had to settle with the music. Luckily for him, there were plenty and most of them were truly amazing. Bond themes from the ’60s included artists like Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Matt Monro and of course, the primadonna of them all, Dame Shirley Bassey. PG’s all-time favourite of all the Bond songs there ever was is Goldfinger from 1964. It’s written among others by John Barry who also wrote the main James Bond theme that opens every Bond movie. Later on in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s there were even more great songs coming from the Bond series. Paul McCartney and Wings’ Live And Let Die is unbelievably good according to Per. There is also Carly Simon’s Nobody Does I Better, A-ha’s The Living Daylights, Duran Duran’s A View To A Kill, Tina Turner’s GoldenEye and the mighty Gladys Knight and her License To Kill. This latter is a wonderful song according to PG.
Per’s most influential band of all time is of course The Beatles. He grew up with their music and he thinks everything about them felt special. The hairdos, the clothes, the vibe. The whole package was something you never experienced before. The Beatles had the unique capacity to never repeat themselves. Every single and every album are different from the one before. The amount of amazing songs delivered by these guys can’t be beaten, PG thinks. He was a bit too young to catch their two main films in the theatres, but he loves the soundtrack albums. On the show, he plays one of the best pop songs ever written, made for the first Beatle movie, A Hard Day’s Night in 1964. A great year for both movies and music, says PG. He loves that magic opening chord.
With Roxette, Per has had the pleasure of being involved in a couple of movies. He tells the true story of It Must Have Been Love. In 1987 he got a request from their German record company to write a Christmas song. They had problems getting Roxette on the radio in Germany and thought it might be easier if they released a Christmas song for the upcoming festive season. So Per wrote a ballad just in time. They recorded it and it sounded really cool, and they released it in their home market, Sweden, where it became a pretty decent Christmas hit and even a gold record. However, the Germans, they didn’t like it very much and refused to work it. Anyway, time went by, Roxette got their international breakthrough a couple of years later and in 1990 PG found himself having lunch in Los Angeles with their American record company. They asked him if he could come up with a song for a movie they had acquired the rights to and Per told them there wasn’t any time. They were travelling the world, week in, week out, doing promotions for the Look Sharp! album, which was a major hit basically everywhere all over the world. But hey, he remembered one thing. They had this Christmas song. Mr. G told them about this ballad and suggested to re-write the lyrics a bit, maybe update the production, make a new intro. So the next time they were in Stockholm, they spent a day in the studio and did just that. And before they knew it, they had a great spot in the movie called Pretty Woman. He plays It Must Have Been Love without the Christmas lyric. That was Roxette’s third American No. 1. It’s still their biggest song all over the world and it’s of course because that Pretty Woman movie was so huge, directed by Garry Marshall, starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in 1990.
Per goes back to the ’60s. One of his favourite songs of all time comes from Easy Rider (1969), a great movie directed by Dennis Hopper. Jack Nicholson is doing one of his coolest roles as the lawyer George Hanson in this one. It was a low-budget movie that became the symbol of the hippie era and a true blockbuster. Per had the poster with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper on their Harley Davidson bikes on his wall when he grew up, next to his treasured pictures of The Beatles and The Monkees. Most of the music to Easy Rider was made by The Byrds, but the song PG has chosen to play is Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild. Per thinks it’s a great track with a wonderful guitar riff.
Let’s stay in the ’60s. It’s easy to do if you’re as old as I am.
Per tells that the music from the ’60s and ’70s is really close to his heart. He listens to it every day. One of the greatest duos ever had a big big song in this movie called The Graduate in 1967, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. It got seven Academy Awards nominations and it won Best Director, Mike Nichols. This song is a classic one by now written by Paul Simon and the duo is of course, Simon & Garfunkel. The song was originally called Mrs. Roosevelt, but they changed the title for the movie to Mrs. Robinson. Paul Simon is one of Per’s favourite songwriters of all time. Bridge Over Troubled Water, The Sound Of Silence, Mother And Child Reunion, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, You Can Call Me Al. The list just goes on and on and on.
Ten years later it was time for the disco craze to take over the world. PG tells he himself was never into the disco scene. Per says he and his pals were never really that much on the dancefloor. „I’m actually a terrible dancer. Just ask my wife!” In 1977 Mr. G formed his first band and he was pretty influenced by the new wave and the power pop scene instead. The Ramones, Patti Smith, Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Blondie, Dwight Twilley Band, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers. That kind of music shaped his own songwriting and style of playing. However, you couldn’t escape this huge movie, the biggest one in 1977, Saturday Night Fever – starring a young John Travolta – which went on to become one of the best selling soundtracks of all time. Loads of music by the Gibb brothers, lots of falsetto voices which sounded amazing according to Per. He picked the stand-out track, which has to be Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. „Dancing shoes on, folks!”
One of the most beautiful movie themes ever is coming up next. This one really takes your breath away when you listen to it, Per says. It’s from Francis Ford Coppola’s epic film, The Godfather, released in 1972. It’s one of the greatest and most influential films ever made, starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall and so many other legendary actors. The music is flawless and written by Nino Rota. Per picked the timeless Love Theme from The Godfather. Amazing stuff!
Coming up next is a song from a Quentin Tarantino movie, Pulp Fiction from 1994. Tarantino and his staff seem to spend a lot of time picking the right music to his films. The soundtracks are always stunning according to Mr. G. In this particular movie there are so many great songs, e.g. Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell, Ricky Nelson’s Lonesome Town, Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together and Dusty Springfield’s Son Of A Preacher Man. Per’s favourite is an old Neil Diamond song though from 1967, covered by a duo from Minnesota, Urge Overkill. Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon was originally released in 1992, but got known to a wide audience via Pulp Fiction 2 years later. It’s such a brilliant track to start with and Urge Overkill’s version is marvellous.
One of Per’s favourite bands, as well as being a big inspiration for him when he started to play in the late ’70s is Blondie. PG loves so many of their songs. He loves their sound and attitude and Debbie Harry is definitely one of the coolest singers ever in Per’s book. Their album Parallel Lines from 1978 is in Mr. G’s Top5 of the best albums ever made, combining their own brilliant material with intelligent covers of other bands’ songs. Hanging On The Telephone written by Jack Lee from The Nerves for example sounds suddenly like a monster hit in the hands of Blondie and their producer Mike Chapman. In 1980 Blondie made it all the way to No. 1 in the US with a song from the American Gigolo film. It was written and produced by Giorgio Moroder. Debbie Harry wrote the lyrics. The movie, starring Richard Gere in the main role, got loads of Grammy and Golden Globe nominations for its music and it’s not surprising according to Per, since the soundtrack is quite wonderful. Call Me is great music from 1980.
Per tells that after Roxette’s success with It Must Have Been Love in the Pretty Woman film they got request to be part of several Hollywood movies. That’s the way it goes. One was a film called Hocus Pocus, starring Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker and Per actually wrote a song for that one and yes, it was called Hocus Pocus. However, for some reason the film company had a change of heart and decided that the group En Vogue should do the theme song instead, which they did, but the film company never used that song either. Pretty strange. But it didn’t really matter, the Hocus Pocus movie turned out to be terrible. Shit happens, says Per. Anyway, they were left with their own song that they thought was really cool and it eventually popped up in another movie instead, starring Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper. But that movie turned out to be really bad as well if you ask PG. He remembers watching it and just shaking his head, what a waste of time. The film was called Super Mario Bros and was released late 1993. Here Per plays their Hocus Pocus song with its new title, Almost Unreal. After the song Per says „you just heard Roxette’s Almost Unreal, featured in one of those movies that never should have been made. We need an antidote now!”
If you ask Per to pick his three favourite movies of all time, it would of course be very tricky. It’s always hard to make choices like that, he says, but one movie he has always cherished is The Big Lebowski, starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore and Steve Buscemi. It’s directed by the Coen borthers who have made some of the greatest films PG knows (e.g. Fargo, The Man Who Wasn’t There, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country For Old Men). Brilliant stuff, according to Mr. G. The Big Lebowksi has got a great soundtrack. The Man In Me by Bob Dylan is superb, just like the Gipsy Kings version of Hotel California, but Per’s favourite is actually Kenny Rogers & the First Edition’s version of Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) from 1968. It’s a wonderful song written by Mickey Newbury in the late ’60s and was the the first big hit for Kenny Rogers. As Per says, Mickey Newbury was a mindblowing songwriter and one of a kind, just like The Big Lebowksi. A truly wonderful movie. PG recommends you to check it out if you haven’t seen it yet and tells that Jeff Bridges is one of his favourite actors.
Talking about Jeff Bridges, he did an amazing movie in 2009 together with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall, called Crazy Heart. Per suggests you put it on your bucketlist if you haven’t seen it yet. Jeff Bridges is playing this country singer songwriter and he actually sings a lot of songs himself both in the movie and on the soundtrack. He’s got a great voice according to PG. He like a lot of country music. He tells he had the opportunity to visit and make recordings in Nashville a couple of years ago and that was amazing. The session players in Nashville are the best in the world and the vibe in this city is very special. There is music everywhere. Per even found a store close to the studio where they only sold and repaired harmonicas. You only find that in Nashville, he says. Back to the Crazy Heart movie, there is especially one track in that film that’s outstanding for Per and it’s called Fallin’ & Flyin’. „Ladies and gentlemen, make way for the great Jeff Bridges!” Per thinks it’s a very catchy song.
One of the albums PG listened to a lot when he was in his pre-teens was Elton John’s Madman Across The Water. It came out in 1971 when Mr. G was 12 years old. 1971 turned out to be one of the greatest years ever for popular music. Think about all those mindblowing albums that came out that particular year. Blue by Joni Mitchell, Tapestry by Carole King, Every Picture Tells A Story by Rod Stewart, Hunky Dory by Bowie, Led Zeppelin IV, Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones, Who’s Next by The Who, Aqualung by Jethro Tull, Ram by Paul and Linda McCartney, Songs Of Love And Hate by Leonard Cohen, Imagine by John Lennon. Per loves Madman Across The Water, including the powerful title track, but the standout song for him was one of the most beautiful songs he knows, Tiny Dancer. In 2000, the movie Almost Famous came out. Kate Hudson played the main character and Per thought she was wonderful and the movie was really incredible. He still likes it a lot. In one of the key scenes you can hear Elton and his Tiny Dancer. Excellent choice, Per thinks.
Next up is a wonderful song written by Harry Nilsson called One. As Per informs, Harry’s own version was on his third solo album, Aerial Ballet in 1968 and a year later Three Dog Night had a big hit with Harry’s song. Aimee Mann did her own version of it for the Paul Thomas Anderson movie Magnolia in 1999, starring Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, John C Reilly and Julianne Moore. Paul Thomas Anderson had his big breakthrough two years earlier with the amazing Boogie Nights film starring Mark Wahlberg and Burt Reynolds. Per thinks you have to check that one out too. It’s brutally good and got a fine soundtrack as well, but he picked Magnolia because it’s special, it’s really beautiful and probably one of his favourite films of all time. Additionally, he loves most of the stuff Aimee Mann has recorded as well, so for Per it’s a match made in heaven.
When you think about songs from movies, it’s not all about the traditional hit or the Top40 song. Some of the finest music for films are instrumentals and a great example of this is the magical stuff created by Ennio Morricone. He was a true master according to Per. PG doesn’t know how many film scores Morricone made, but more than 100, he thinks. The music he wrote for Sergio Leone’s spaghettti Westerns in the ’60s is truly remarkable. It’s interesting that he sometimes wrote the songs and the scores before they even shot the scenes, so the music itself inspired how the scenes would turn out. Fascinating! Per plays the theme from The Good, The Bad And The Ugly made in 1966, starring Clint Eastwood, music by Ennio Morricone. „Wow! Isn’t that the best guitar sound you ever heard?” It’s played by Bruno Battisti D’Amario.
At this point Per tells the listeners they probably know him through his work with Roxette. He is playing some of his favourite songs from the movies.
In 2012 Per got the opportunity to create his own full soundtrack to a movie. He worked closely with director Jonas Åkerlund on his movie Small Apartments, starring Matt Lucas, Billy Crystal and James Caan among others. It was a pretty interesting process. PG presented loads of instrumental music that Jonas could choose from and used some stuff he had written in the past, but also did new music, especially created for specific scenes. Per plays one of the songs that was used in the film. This is a fun one called Shopping With Mother. It was an independent movie and lots of fun to be involved with, says Per. The female opera-like vocals were sung by the the amazing Helena Josefsson, who Per has worked with since 2002.
Next one Mr. G has picked is from a Roman Polanski movie called Bitter Moon starring Peter Coyote, Emmanuelle Seigner and Hugh Grant from 1992. Like all Polanski movies, Bitter Moon is quite excellent according to Per. He has picked a great song Polanski used in the movie. It’s called Stop! and was originally released in 1988, sung by Sam Brown. It’s a lovely song according to Per. Sam Brown used to be a session vocalist working with among others Pink Floyd on their The Division Bell album, but she also released a handful of successful singles on her own in the late ’80s. Unfortunately, she got problems with her voice and stopped singing due to medical reasons in 2007. Such a shame, thinks Per.
Now comes something completely different. Next artist – who changed the world forever – is Elvis Presley. In 1957 he made his third movie and it was called Jailhouse Rock. Per remembers his sister had the title track on a 7-inch vinyl single and Elvis looked extremely cool on the cover. Mr. G found the single in the mid ’60s and he couldn’t take his eyes off the sleeve and he played that record over and over again.
Who could resist a groove like that and the way he was singing? Not me! It still sounds amazing to this very day! So ladies and gentlemen, the king of them all, Elvis Aaron Presley from Tupelo, Mississippi performing the title track from Jailhouse Rock written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
Hard to beat! After the song PG says „Elvis has left the building”.
Jim Carrey is another of the all time great actors. Per thinks he is very versatile, not only an amazing comedian. In 2004 he made a great movie called Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind together with Kate Winslet. The movie was directed by Michel Gondry and written by Charlie Kaufman who also wrote one of Mr. G’s all time favourites, Being John Malkovich a couple of years earlier. Wonderful scripts, both of them. In Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind there is a great version of the song Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime by Beck. Per really loves that song. He heard it first in the very early ’80s in the original recording by the British band, The Korgis. It’s written by James Warren who was the lead singer of the band and it’s an all time classic in PG’s book.
It’s time to play another Roxette song now. This one hasn’t been involved in any huge movies that Per knows of, but it certainly has appeared in loads of TV series, e.g. GLOW and this black comedy series called Scream Queens comes to mind. Per wrote it in 1988, trying to figure out how to program his new synthesizer, an Ensoniq ESQ-1. So he basically just fooled around with three bass notes and started singing the first things that came to mind and that became the first verse. „Walking like a man, hitting like a hammer, she’s a juvenile scam…” It didn’t really make sense, but it sounded really cool. Per made a demo called He’s Got The Look, because hus intention was to have Marie in Roxette to sing it. However, she didn’t feel comfortable doing that. She tried it, but it didn’t really click. So Per changed it to she’s got The Look and sang it himself on the recording and it became the opening track on Roxette’s second album, Look Sharp! and eventually, their first American No. 1. in the spring of 1989. It changed their lives forever. After the song is played, PG says „Yep. I’m part of that!”
It’s time for another Western movie, Per thinks. One of his favourites is from 1969 and it is of course the highest grossing film of that year, the blockbuster Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Written by William Goldman, directed by George Roy Hill it received seven Academy Awards nominations and won four of them, including the award for best song. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head sung by B. J. Thomas, written by one of the best composers of all time, Burt Bacharach. Lyrics were written by Hal David and this is such a great song according to PG.
In 1968 an amazing movie had its premiere. Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway played the leading parts in The Thomas Crown Affair. This is such a cool film and it also went down very well with the Academy Awards jury. It got two nominations and one for best original song. The Windmills Of Your Mind sung by Noel Harrison, music by Michel Legrand and lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. It’s such a beautiful song, says Per. Some trivia is that Sean Connery was the original choice for the title role, but he turned it down. „Can you believe that?” However, Mr. G thinks Steve McQueen was an excellent replacement, he is superb in the role of Thomas Crown.
We move forward to another Quentin Tarantino film, made in 2003. Kill Bill: Vol. 1, starring Uma Thurman is yet another Tarantino movie with a very interesting soundtrack. Per has chosen Nancy Sinatra’s version of Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) from 1966. It was actually written for Cher by her then-husband Sonny Bono, but it was Nancy Sinatra’s version that appeared in the actual movie. It’s such a great song and Nancy Sinatra’s take on it holds a pretty sparse production with just vocals and an electric guitar with tremolo. Per informs the guitar was played by Billy Strange and his playing is really what makes the song so special.
Per would like to play another Roxette track for you. This one he wrote together with his old pal, Mats Persson and it has been included in several TV series over the years. Killing Eve, Mr. Robot to name two of them. PG wrote the lyrics after a very long night comforting a friend of his who went through a pretty nasty divorce. So this was some kind of friendly advice from Per to his friend. It was written for Roxette’s second album, Look Sharp! in 1988 and it became their second No. 1 in the US. It was actually the first single ever to become No. 1 in America being released only as a cassette single and not available as a vinyl single. „Weird, isn’t it? I never really got into the cassette single thing myself, but the Americans obviously did. I’m sure you know this one. Listen To Your Heart by Roxette.”
I hope you enjoyed today’s cinema inspired soundtrack. It’s been such a pleasure going through so many fabulous songs from so many great movies. I could go on and on and on.
Per rounds things off with one of his favourite artists of all time, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers. In 1996 Tom Petty did the soundtrack to a romantic comedy called She’s The One, directed by Edward Burns and starring Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz in the leading roles. This soundtrack holds a staggering amount of great songs and Per has chosen his favourite one called California. Before the song plays, Per thanks for listening and says:
Hope to see you all down the road somewhere! Stay safe and sound, folks! Bye for now!
After the song is played, Mr. G comes back with a couple of more words to close the show:
Aaand… cut! This is Per Gessle of Roxette and that’s a wrap of this very special edition of Movie Hits Essentials on Apple Music.
Thanks for the technical support, János Tóth!