Elliot Smith, Fort Atlantic, & Genesis: A Soundtrack for True Grit

“Angels in the Snow” is a bittersweet and simple song about being in awe of someone or something that you love. I would qualify this song as a love song, and I think it would fit perfectly into a soundtrack for True Grit even though the protagonist, Mattie Ross, does not pursue a love interest. If True Grit was a movie, “Angels in the Snow” would perfectly accompany a slow motion scene of Tom Chaney bursting out of a bar, saloon doors swinging, and firing shots into Frank Ross. Frank Ross would be surprised, maybe a look of confusion would slowly work its way into the features of his face, all while he falls back slowly onto the ground, dead. It would be sad, and the sweet and beautiful music would add a striking contrast that would up the ante on the overall emotion of the scene. This song could transform its meaning into something representative of True Grit, possibly the love that is shared between Mattie and her father. I also believe the lines, “Sometimes I feel like only a cold still life/ only a frozen still life/ that fell down here to lay beside you” could be a symbolic contrast between Mattie and her Father. Mattie is a confident hero-figure, while her father is a gentle, soft-spoken man. Mattie’s father is in awe of her and her personality, and is filled with love and gratitude to be able to be beside her.

In all cinematic gems, there is a big-decision montage, or sometimes a getting-ready/training montage. “Up From the Ground” would accompany the scenes where Mattie finds out about her father’s death. The lyrics are written with a wary tone, the chords are doleful and full not of sadness but of something more bitter. The tempo is slow, and creates a soft rumbling to the way the song carries on. All of these features would accurately depict the way the Ross family would take the news of Frank’s death. In addition, the final lines of the song, “This is the call, but I have no choice,” are very representative of the way Mattie feels about her decision to hunt down Tom Chaney. Even though this terrible tragedy has fallen upon her family, she heeds the call of retribution out of a sense of obligation to her father.

“Man on The Corner” is the epitome of Rooster Cogburn. True, one doesn’t usually draw a solid connection between eighties synth and old western vibes, and that’s okay. In the beginning I didn’t see it either. All you have to do is read the lyrics once, and you already get a picture of someone alone in their endeavors, living by their own law, and very much in limbo. Rooster Cogburn is truly at a standstill in his life when Mattie shows up. She and her proposition for accompaniment on her journey add purpose back into this lone wolf’s life. Tune-wise, this song may be a contrast to the feel of a western movie, but the lyrics perfectly complement the true character of Rooster Cogburn.

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