Martin Scorsese is a bonafide music nerd. Even though he is the mastermind behind iconic pieces of cinema in the shape of feature films such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Departed and The Wolf of Wall Street, the director has always tried to integrate music into his work whenever possible.
The acclaimed filmmaker has never shied away from taking on a project about music whenever possible, a dedication away from the norm that acts as passion projects for Scorsese. For every film like The Irishman he makes for the masses, there’s a documentary such as George Harrison: Living in the Material World or Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story which he makes purely for himself. It should come as little surprise to anybody that has seen any of his music documentaries that Scorsese has got an impeccable music taste, which prove his credentials as one of the great aficionados.
His personal record collection relies heavily on the so-called ‘golden age’ of music from the 1960s and ’70s which would become the setting for his HBO original series Vinyl, a project which he enlisted the help of Mick Jagger to create. The show ran for just one series before being cancelled, a decision which upset Scorsese greatly as this was a project that was extremely close to his heart but, unlike his blockbusters, something about the series never quite clicked with the audience.
“In my mind, it’s not about the music of the sixties or the seventies or what they did in the eighties,” Scorsese once said on his obsession with this period in an interview with The Guardian. “It’s who they are now. And how they play onstage and how they interact. And what that music, and that performance, does to an audience. That’s the truth.”
He added: “The truth is there and immediate. You can bring all the history you want to it. And there will be some who certainly disagree with me. But all I know is I’m there and I feel a certain thing. Emotionally and psychologically, I’m affected by it. And it’s still inspiring to me.”
His fascination with this era is unsurprisingly the source of his most treasured records which he was quizzed about in an interview with EW back in 2016. “I own so much vinyl. 78s that I collected and that my uncle had, and 45s and LPs. I think I probably have some very rare 45s that I bought when I was young,” the director recollected.
“A lot of doo-wop — songs like ‘Ling Ting Tong’ by The [Five] Keys, ‘Gloria’ by Vito and the Salutations, ‘Could This Be Magic’ by the Dubs, ‘Desiree’ by The Charts, ‘Ship of Love’ by the Nutmegs, and so many others. I’ve used a lot of them in my movies,” Scorsese added.
“And I love the sound of those 45s. Every scratch. I also have a very special record. Eric Clapton sent it to me. ‘I found this in my closet and I thought you might like to have it,’ he said. It was the gold record for ‘Sunshine of Your Love,’ framed. I’m not sure if that counts — it’s gold, so can it be vinyl? — and I can’t play it, but I certainly treasure it,” The Wolf of Wall Street director said on his most treasured record.
Few people are more well equipped to speak on this era of music than Scorsese who seems to have delved deeper into studying it like a true music geek. The love he has for the 45 format that he has collected over the decades knows no bounds. In addition, not only is the music from this era some of the greatest but the stories that come with it are equally as jaw-dropping and is why this has been such a source of inspiration for the director throughout his career.