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From David Bowie to Joni Mitchell: Brian Eno picks his favourite musical moments in films

As the incredibly gifted musician and composer Brian Eno has announced that he will be releasing a huge new collection entitle Film Music 1976-2020, which encapsulates all of his worthy work within the film industry, we thought there was no better time to revisit twelve pieces of music in films that he particularly loves. Spoiler alert: he picks two of his own pieces.

Hugh Cornwell, the former lead singer and guitarist in the Stranglers, set up an internet radio show in his spare time over recent years as a hobby to discuss and debate films and their accompanying music, it would be where he and Eno would discuss their passion for soundtracks and scores. 

“Mr Demille FM is something of a passion of mine,” Cornwell has previously explained. “I’ve always been interested in cinema. It’s a great escape from the world of music for me.” He added: “I realised there’s a whole history of interesting people involved in cinema, and most of them are dead. So that means no interviews are possible. But it does mean I can spend a whole show looking at someone’s career, and the music can come from the films they made.”

And that’s exactly what Cornwell did, sitting down with the great Brian Eno to openly discuss some of their favourite music that has been attached to cinema. Eno, who seems in his element discussing music in film, selects some of the most potent notes in cinema. While there is plenty to get your teeth stuck into, there a few moments that are worth some extra attention.

One such track sees Eno pay homage to his friend and collaborator David Bowie. A prominent figure in cinema in his own right, Bowie’s contribution to the opening scene of David Lynch’s film Lost Highway is perfect. Bowie was in his industrialised avant-garde phase and it intertwined with Lynch’s eskewed vision effortlessly.

Another moment on the list, that will stick in many people’s minds is the performance of ‘Moon River’ by Audrey Hepburn. It’s undoubtedly one of the most iconic moments in classic cinema and is rightly praised by Eno as being an arresting and timeless piece. As mentioned, there are two spots on the list for Eno’s own work, with Sebastiane and his work on Danny Boyle’s cult-classic Trainspotting.

Other legends on the list include jazz hero Miles Davis, the one and only folk legend Joni Mitchell and, of course, The King himself, Elvis Presley. All in all, it makes for a beguiling list of music and one that shows how highly Eno values music in cinema.

While the conversation began centred around soundtracks, Eno strayed away from the path as he quite regularly does and detailed some specific songs and theme tunes that he holds dearly. You can listen to the full interview here and, below, explore some of Eno’s favourite music in film via this incredible playlist.

Brian Eno’s favourite music in films:

  • ‘Theme’ by Nino Rota in Juliet of the Spirits
  • ‘Women of Ireland’ by The Chieftans in Barry Lyndon
  • ‘Theme’ by Miles Davis in Lift to the Scaffold
  • ‘Ubo Gowele’ by Abafana Baseqhundeni in Rhythm of Resistance
  • ‘The Farmer & The Cowman’ by Gordon MacRae in Oklahoma!
  • ‘Moon River’ by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • ‘Final Sunset’ by Brian Eno in Sebastiane
  • ‘Hobbak Mor’ by Samira Tawfik in Desert Romance
  • ‘Didja Ever’ by Elvis Presley in GI Blues
  • ‘Deep Blue Day’ by Brian Eno in Trainspotting
  • ‘I Am Deranged’ by David Bowie in Lost Highway
  • ‘Both Sides Now’ by Joni Mitchell in Love Actually