Access To Rock

Access To Rock

Dazed & Confused turned into a cult classic by drawing on nostalgia for the 1970s two decades later, and it’s now persisted as a classic for 30 more years.

“A time they’d never forget… if only they could remember.”

The setting on the last day of high school on May 28, 1976 in a nameless town in Texas opened the door for countless ‘70s cultural references.

The high school characters, including lesser-known versions of Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey, created the angsty teenage mood without too much of a romantic drama.

The focus on the partying and the freedom of the last day of school sets up the perfect opportunity for an excellent Rock & Roll soundtrack central to the movie’s plot.

Dazed & Confused Soundtrack

The movie will live forever partly because of unmistakable lines that capture the spirit of the struggling high school students.

“Well, all I’m saying is that I want to look back and say that I did the best I could while I was stuck in this place, had as much fun as I could while I was stuck in this place, played as hard as I could while I was stuck in this place.” -Don Dawson 

Randy “Pink” Floyd also vents his frustration with the seemingly endless rules placed on him and his rebellious teenage friends.

“I think they’re just afraid some of us might be having too good a time.” -‘Pink’ Floyd

However, there’s a reason why Dazed & Confused is named after a Led Zeppelin song. The mastery of the classic rock music is the true defining characteristic of the movie.

The Rock & Roll scenes have an incredible ability to transition scenes and change the entire mood instantly with a recognizable 1970s hit.

The interactions between the characters have such a wide range of emotions. Some are lively and exciting with a party atmosphere. Some are sentimental and personal between friends struggling to grow up. Some are meant to be funny.

The mix of emotions created the need for mood-changing music, and it set the creators up with a long classic rock catalogue to choose from with a setting in the golden era of Rock & Roll.

Whether it’s Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Dylan, or a long list of others, Dazed & Confused nailed its 1970s setting with one of the best movie soundtracks of all time.

  • Opening Credits: "Sweet Emotion" by Aerosmith

    Dazed & Confused needed to start with a recognizable hit song to set the tone for the era of Rock & Roll the movie was going to represent.

    Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” kicked things off right with the low melody to begin the opening credits and the transition into the opening verse as the movie first starts to show the scenes at Lee High School.

  • The Final Bell: "School's Out" by Alice Cooper

    The first scenes introduce the main characters and set the stage for a night of partying after the bell rings on the last day of school.

    The whole cast of characters has their minds set on the upcoming party at Pickford’s house, but it’s the junior boys who plan on doing some freshman hazing first. The wild chase picks up.

    The choice for the song was a no-brainer.

  • Sunset: "Free Ride" by The Edgar Winter Group

    As the afternoon fades, the different cliques get ready for a night out (before some of them are even aware that the party was cancelled).

    The scenery of the sun setting over the ball field gives the right taste of a warm night in May and the serenity and freedom of summer vacation. 

  • Freshmen Hazing: "No More Mr. Nice Guy" by Alice Cooper

    Mitch Kramer takes a beating from the now-seniors excited to haze some incoming freshmen.

    Pink calms the mood by offering Mitch a ride home and encouraging him to shake it off.

    The mood slows down with a more thoughtful and authentic conversation just a few scenes after most of the characters had been sharing a joint and trying to figure out a way to get kegs of beer delivered safely.

  • Out for the Night: "Low Rider" by War

    The mood picks right back up to the tune of “Low Rider” when Wooderson and Pink pick up Mitch to head out for the night.

    The beginning parts of the night paint an accurate picture of a more typical night out in high school with some aimless driving around town and finding a few places to meet up with other groups of friends.

    The scene also includes some old-style cars that add another good touch of ’70s culture to the setting.

    Matthew McConaughey comes in hot with an iconic line in his first appearance of the movie. 

    “Say, man you got a joint?.. It’d be a lot cooler if you did.”

  • The Emporium: "Hurricane" by Bob Dylan

    The Emporium becomes the hangout for most of the seniors once word spreads that the party was cancelled. 

    “Hurricane” fits flawlessly in the background when Wooderson, Pink, and Mitch enter the Emporium. It makes the smoky pool room seem like the place to be for any teenager craving the freedom of the last day of school.

    Bob Dylan’s lyrics about the story of Rubin Carter, a boxer tried for murder in 1966, become a little bit intense during some the verses. However, the scene’s emphasis on the chorus and the ability to fade out some of the more intense lyrics help create a more appropriate vibe for a party setting.

  • Junior High Dance: "Love Hurts"

    “Love Hurts” was the ideal choice for a song at an awkward rec center dance for eighth graders.

    It’s their last junior high party, and it’s no surprise that the boys look forward to freshman year with some bravado comments over their heads about the girls their age. 

  • Another Freshman Beating: "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath

    The mood needed to change from the slow melody of “Love Hurts,” and the heavy metal sound of Black Sabbath provided another flawless transition to a scene with a completely different feeling.

    Ben Affleck’s character O’Bannion goes over the top with the freshmen hazing. Who better to set the mood for an aggressive beating than “The Prince of Darkness” Ozzy Osbourne?

  • Going for a Ride: "Tush" by ZZ Top

    In one of the more intense and destructive scenes of Dazed & Confused, Pink, Mitch, Don, and Pickford go for a ride to share a joint.

    They ended up destroying some mailboxes and smashing a car windshield. ZZ Top provides the edgy feeling.

  • Back to the Party: "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" by Rick Derringer

    The transition away from the scene leads back to the party atmosphere.

    In a way that contrasts the need for a big hit like “Sweet Emotion” in the opening scene, “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” is an upbeat song that relights the party atmosphere without the need to make too big of an impression on the viewer coming off so many recognizable hit songs in the previous scenes.

  • The Smooth Talker: "Show Me the Way" by Peter Frampton

    The softer feel of Peter Frampton fits the lighter atmosphere of the characters stopping at a burger place, until Wooderson smooth talks Cynthia.

    It’s a role Matthew McConaughey will never live down.

     

     

  • The Freshman Swagger: "Slow Ride" by Foghat

    Mitch finds his confidence when he gets served a six pack and rolls back in the Emporium with some swagger.

    The smooth look pushes Dawson to give Mitch the “play it cool” advice if he wants to impress a sophomore girl.

  • Party at the Moontower: "Rock and Roll All Nite" by Kiss

    Dazed & Confused couldn’t have been a great high school movie without a good keg party in the woods.

    The party at the moontower replaces Pickford’s party nicely. “Rock and Roll All Nite” gives the simple and appropriate lyrics when the cars arrive for the party.

  • Young Love: "Do You Feel Like We Do" by Peter Frampton

    The movie uses the right amount of high school romance without making the plot too much about any particular relationship.

    MGK ‘s Philly 500 champion from 2021 set the mood for Tony and Sabrina hitting it off as the group gets to the later part of the night.

  • The Perfect Nightcap: "Tuesday's Gone" by Lynyrd Skynyrd

    The high school party needed at least one fight.

    After Mike and Clint get broken up, the scene winds down with “Tuesday’s Gone” blaring in the perfect fadeaway.

    After Lynyrd Skynyrd already set the mood, the two faceless characters trying to pump an empty keg serve as the perfect indicator of the end of the party.

  • Sunrise: "Summer Breeze" by Seals & Crofts

    Mitch gets the girl in the end, and the calm melody of “Summer Breeze” plays overhead while the freshman boy kisses the sophomore girl as the sun rises.

  • The Sendoff: "Slow Ride" by Foghat

    Mitch’s mom wasn’t clueless when her son stayed out until sunrise. She reluctantly gives him a pass for sneaking in so late, and Mitch puts his headphones on for an excellent song to take the audience out.

    The scene shifts to the seniors handling their “top priority of the summer,” the road trip to buy Aerosmith tickets, and “Slow Ride” rolls right into the end credits.

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