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From Tom Waits to Neil Young: A huge playlist of the music featured in Jim Jarmusch films


For Jim Jarmusch, the role of creative inspiration comes in all forms. The filmmaker who devours art around him at an intensely impressive rate has allowed his inspiration to play a major role in his cinematic vision.

Directing such films as Stranger Than Paradise, Dead Man, Coffee and Cigarettes, Paterson and more, Jarmusch has allowed a wonderfully close relationship with music to dictate the direction in some of his cinematic pictures. Given his current stature, it is easy to forget that Jarmusch began life as part of a revolving lineup of musicians in Robin Crutchfield’s Dark Day project back in the 1980s.

Having always surrounded himself with free-thinking creatives, Jarmusch has never been shy when discussing his sources of inspiration and, a few years ago, the filmmaker said: “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows,” when asked about how he devours culture around him.

If working with the likes of Tom Waits and Iggy Pop in his 2003 anthology film Coffee and Cigarettes wasn’t enough to quench his thirst for emotive music in film, not a lot will. With that in mind, it’s clear that the inclusion of both the aforementioned names would appear in a playlist made up entirely of songs the director has used in his films—as do the likes of Roy Orbison, Neil Young and more.

Given Jarmusch’s history with music, it should come as little surprise that the creative out form is a crucial factor in his outlook of creativity. “Music, to me, is the most beautiful form, and I love film because film is very related to music,” he said. “It moves by you in its own rhythm. It’s not like reading a book or looking at a painting. It gives you its own time frame, like music, so they are very connected for me. But music to me is the biggest inspiration.”

He concluded: “When I get depressed, or anything, I go ‘think of all the music I haven’t even heard yet!’ So, it’s the one thing. Imagine the world without music. Man, just hand me a gun, will you?” 

With a passion like that, enjoy some of the songs that have played a pivotal role in the formation of Jarmusch’s films: