The Coen brothers have been hailed as incredibly influential figures in American independent filmmaking ever since they broke onto the scene with their irresistibly stylish directorial debut Blood Simple in 1984. They have proven that those initial assessments were right by moving on to other iconic projects such as Fargo and The Big Lebowski.
Recently, they were in the headlines once again when Joel Coen announced that he was directing a new film without his brother Ethan by his side which was a first for both of them. The latter has stepped away from the world of cinema for the time being, choosing to focus on other things while Joel journeys on with his new artistic investigations.
Although many had wondered what the result of this split was going to be, it is safe to say that Joel has put all those worries to rest by coming out with The Tragedy of Macbeth. Starring Denzel Washington in the titular role as well as Frances McDormand as the formidable Lady Macbeth, the new film is a stunning modern interpretation of the legendary Shakespearean tragedy.
As is often the case, music plays a major role throughout the filmmaking duo’s oeuvre. On countless occasions, the brothers have used brilliant songs to amplify the cinematic experiences they have created like the transformative impact of ‘Somebody to Love’ in A Serious Man or the perfect combination of Bob Dylan’s ‘The Man in Me’ with their celebrated cult-classic The Big Lebowski.
The Coen brothers have also worked extensively with composer Carter Burwell who has collaborated with them on almost all of their joint directorial efforts. “Carter is so good at sort of moving into these different kinds of storytelling,” Joel Coen once said, “And understanding what the sort of imperatives of the movie are, and what it needs musically.”
He went on to claim that Burwell was so talented that they never had to explain things to him, as opposed to the actors who talked to the directors at great lengths. According to Burwell, the Coens incorporate music in such a way that it becomes an essential driving force of their storytelling methods and makes the audience feel that it is “really like a member of the cast”.
We have compiled a mammoth playlist of the music used throughout the Coen brothers’ filmography as a tribute to their contributions to the world of cinema. Feel free to wander through the iconic songs that the Coen brothers have used to add a flourish to their visual creations.