Friday, December 5, 2014

Song of the Day: Moby - Extreme Ways (2002)

Some songs just have a perfect time, place, and situation. A lot of songs we refer to as summer songs, or road trip songs, or campfire songs, or bar songs… But here's a song that's perfect for the isolation you can only feel at night in a big city. 

Let me set the scene for you: It's late at night in a big city, the bars have closed, the streets are empty, but the fluorescent lights are still all about you, soaking you in a million colors because you're the only thing in their path. You get in your car, hit the gas, and press play. 

It's those first two siren-like notes that immediately make you feel so cool, like the world is sitting still just so you can have your way with it. 

Virtually every pop song ever written about loneliness takes a sad tone. This one does not. "Extreme Ways" treats loneliness not merely as a proactive choice, but as a necessity, as though only you can handle the intensity of your life, and there's simply no practical place for anyone else. It powerfully creates the backstory of living an adventurous and dangerous life, so of course it immediately became the theme song for a film series about just that. 

"Extreme Ways" is from the 2002 Moby album 18, and just a month after it's release it was used during the end credits of the first Bourne film, The Bourne Identity. The internet seems unsure of whether or not the song was created specifically for the film.  Regardless, it's one of the most perfect marriages of song-to-film that has ever existed--a marriage that proved so durable it continued through three subsequent Bourne films. 

All four Bourne movies end the exact same way--something happens that casts doubt about the fate of the main character, that doubt is slyly eliminated in a clever winking way, and that winking moment is immediately cut into by the opening two sirens of this song, signaling the end of the film and the rolling of the credits, and Moby reassuringly sings to us that "Extreme ways are back again."

Action franchises often get taken to the cleaners by critics and bloggers for recycling the same formulas again and again, but this is the rare exception. Not only does each of the four Bourne films end like this, they end exactly like this, and it feels perfect. It's just the sense of adrenaline inducement that a movie about Jason Bourne is supposed to leave you with. That's how you know a movie theme song gets it just right--when each successive entry in the series still ends with the same song and the audience wouldn't have it any other way. 

Check out the Song of the Day Archive!!

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