Well, we already had every reason to be furious since this nation has disappointed the man who once said, “A nation devoid of art has lost part of its lifeblood,” in every imaginable way. Now we are enraged that the sequel of “Trainspotting,” one of the greatest and most artistic films ever made, is not being screened at Turkish cinemas, while for the past month most moviegoers have been going crazy over the fifth installment of some garbage franchise. I feel that writing about the soundtrack of the original film is the proper thing to do in this case of cultural terrorism. [May contain spoilers.]
It’s not difficult to see why Ziggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” was the perfect choice to use in the introduction to “Trainspotting.” Right at the beginning of the film, the characters are shown running away from the law, with the song being played simultaneously. The loud drumbeat that starts the song almost feels like the footsteps of running men. The massive energy in the music spreads to us, the viewers, such that we understand we won’t have to suffer through a boring wait until the good parts really start. A more important reason why this song is perfect to play as the film opens is that it’s about quitting junk and then falling off the wagon, and that’s a major theme of the film. Moreover, “Lust for Life” is a bridge that connects “Trainspotting” to William S. Burroughs, with its multiple references to the novel “The Ticket That Exploded.” A film like “Trainspotting” wouldn’t be complete without a little contribution from Burroughs.
You can’t listen to New Order’s “Temptation” and stand perfectly still at the same time. Even if you try to resist, you’ll soon forget that intention and begin moving your torso left and right, tapping your feet, or making some other rhythmic movement. This is a song to dance to all night long with someone unique, whose eyes are green, or blue, or gray during different parts of the dance. That’s true at least for the re-recorded 1987 version of the song that appears on the soundtrack; the original 12-minute version is a little short on that feeling. I’m not exactly sure what causes the difference, but my guess is that in the 1987 version the band eased up on their original artistic intentions: consequently, the instruments and the sound effects overlap better, and the song sounds much more uniform, so it doesn’t steal your focus when you’re engaged in another activity besides just listening. Many versions of the song exist, but I think we can all agree that Diane sang it best during the junkie limbo scene in the film.
The saddest part for diehard fans was that the expectation of seeing “T2 Trainspotting” was what kept them hanging on. Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” is a great example of ambiguity in music: the lyrics can be either about a beloved, or about the junk habit (or something else if you wish); and the music can be either happy, or depressing. Whatever your interpretation is, it fits, and the main reason for this is the cleverness behind the lyrics. All we know from the lines “You made me forget myself, I thought I was someone else, someone good” and “You just keep me hanging on” is that the protagonist is in a bad place without the object he’s referring to. If it’s about love, then we have the classic woman-fixing-broken-man scenario: he had the perfect day with her, and he’s glad about that; the song is not depressing, and its story is sweet in a way. If it’s about junk, then his life is a train wreck and only by shooting up can he forget about his problems and be happy. But it seems he hasn’t given up on life just yet: he’s trying to hang on by taking occasional breaks, which he needs to survive, and therefore the song is about a man’s struggle. If that’s also not the case, then things are getting really depressing. If he’s being sarcastic about having a perfect day, then he’s an addict in trouble and is seeking help. If he’s not being sarcastic, then he’s a junkie who has found closure, and he’s going to die alone in a hole, like Tommy in the film, because that’s what junkies do. It’s even possible that he just took his dog for a walk in the park and had a really good time, though this interpretation is admittedly a long shot. The only issue with this ambiguity is the repeated “You’re going to reap just what you sow” line at the end. It kind of forces us to believe this is the depressing story of an addict. It’s cool, though; that’s what we actually want to believe, since this song carries Renton’s overdose scene to the god-tier level. For the sake of saying at least one thing regarding the music, I want to say it kills me every time the way Lou’s voice transforms to a heart-wrenching form in the chorus.
When I watched the sequel’s trailer for the first time, and Underworld’s “Born Slippy .NUXX” began at the 14th second, it was an instant orgasm for me; it was THAT nostalgic. Still, I don’t have much to say about this one. I could offer a million reasons for that, all false. The truth is that I’m a bad writer, but that’s going to change, I’m going to change. This is the last of this sort of thing. I’m cleaning up, and I’m moving on; going straight and choosing life. I’m looking forward to it already. I’m going to be just like you: the job, the family, the big television, the washing machine, the car, the compact disc and the electric can opener; good health, low cholesterol, dental insurance, mortgage, starter home, leisurewear, luggage, three-piece suit, DIY, game shows, junk food, children; walks in the park, nine to five, good at golf, washing the car, choice of sweaters, family Christmas, indexed pension, tax exemption, clearing the gutters, getting by, looking ahead, to the day you die.
Renton: It’s Iggy Pop.
Diane: Whatever. I mean, the guy’s dead anyway.
Renton, 2017: Surprisingly, no.