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Film

When Martin Scorsese approached John Lydon for the 'Raging Bull' soundtrack

Martin Scorsese has always made films which have utilised the full potential of the cinematic medium by combining strong visual elements with incredible music. Labelled as a “great connoisseur of music” by none other than Mick Jagger, the soundtracks of many great Scorsese films have achieved iconic statuses in popular culture.

In addition to the exquisite use of songs by The Rolling Stones and The Animals among others, Scorsese has also worked as a music documentarian. Many of his music documentaries are enjoyed by fans all over the world, especially culturally significant works of art such as The Last Waltz and No Direction Home.

For his 1980 magnum opus Raging Bull, Scorsese had some special plans for the soundtrack which involved John Lydon and Public Image Ltd. The film starred Robert De Niro in one of the greatest performances of his illustrious career, playing the role of a flawed boxer whose tragic rise and fall is a haunting reflection of the human condition.

In his autobiography, the band’s bassist Jah Wobble revealed that he had actually met Scorsese with Lydon in order to discuss the soundtrack for Raging Bull. While recalling the meeting between them and the pioneering filmmaker, Wobble revealed: “We [John Lydon and I] ended up sitting in a penthouse apartment with Scorsese.”

Scorsese was reportedly a fan of Public Image Ltd and had even attended their first show in New York in 1980. After being mesmerised by their music at the Palladium, the director decided to talk to some band members to determine whether getting them to work on the soundtrack of his upcoming film was a real possibility.

However, Wobble was mostly disoriented for the entire meeting because of the travelling and the mixture of drugs and alcohol. He admitted: “Because of the combination of my first-ever jet lag, speed comedown, booze and general tour weirdness, I was very spaced out (I think I must have had a puff as well). My memory is a bit hazy.”

According to the bassist, Scorsese was very enthusiastic about the meeting and he could not sit still. Throughout the evening, the filmmaker kept talking about random things while discussing the plot and details about Raging Bull as well. Wobble also remembered that Scorsese looked out of the window at the people on Broadway and recited Orson Welles’ famous speech from The Third Man.

“Basically, Scorsese did a performance,” Wobble added. “I certainly wasn’t disappointed with Scorsese, he more than lived up to any expectations that I had. I dimly remember Raging Bull being discussed, the storyline and all that. I don’t think they showed us scenes from the film or anything. I vaguely remember thinking that they weren’t really serious. Anyway, we never did the soundtrack for Raging Bull.

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