When you think of a Zach Braff film, themes that often come to mind are growing up and finding one’s sense of self. As seen in his latest project Wish I Was Here, the filmmaker takes on the role of Aidan Bloom, a struggling actor and father of two who must learn to grow up upon learning about the news of his father’s impending death.
While his films (the other being 2004’s Garden State) have often divided critics and fans alike, there’s no denying that his movies include really good soundtracks. As the songs Braff chooses to use perfectly describe what it means to discover yourself amid your personal struggles, here are some songs that will help get you through life.
Obvious Child by Paul Simon
Both films Zach Braff has directed involves growing up and realizing your sense of self. Paul Simon’s “Obvious Child” is the ideal song to help you feel your inner kid. Set to rhythm of African drums, Braff has previously mentioned that he had always wanted to place this song in a movie, but didn’t know which scene to use. In his latest film Wish I Was Here, Braff finally found the right moment in which his on-screen brother (played by Josh Gad) goes to Comic-Con:
“I’ve had fantasies of cutting something to it forever. And this was finally the right time. Josh Gad marching in Comic Con in a spacesuit is where we found the perfect moment.”
Wish I Was Here by Cat Power and Coldplay
Something that stands out in Zach Braff’s movies (other than life revelations) are his strong female characters. In Garden State, it was Natalie Portman’s quirky Sam. In Wish I Was Here, Kate Hudson takes on the role of the headstrong matriarch Sarah.
Seeing that Coldplay wrote ‘Wish I Was Here’ and intended it to be sung by a woman(in this case, that honour went to Cat Power), this is the ideal tune to help remind you of the wonderful ladies in your life.
New Slang by The Shins
In Garden State, Natalie Portman’s Sam tells Zach Braff’s character Andrew that this song would change his life. While it might not have done anything to you on a personal level, one can’t deny that it’s perfect to listen to while you’re driving home and contemplating life. It’s also a nice song to bop your head along to.
Fair by Remy Zero
Are you feeling romantic? Hoping to finally confess to your longtime crush that you have feelings for him/her? Then play Remy Zero’s ‘Fair’, because it will serve as the perfect song for you as you’re about to make out. (Just make sure they reciprocate your feelings first.)
I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You by Colin Hay
Just in case your crush doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, then this song will help with your broken heart. If you take a listen to Colin Hay’s lyrics, you’ll see that he perfectly understands the mood you’re currently feeling.
Holocene by Bon Iver
It wouldn’t be a Zach Braff film without a a road trip interlude. Long drives are a time when you gather your thoughts and come up with life epiphanies. As explained by Bon Iver, the song is about “redemption and realizing that you’re worth something; that you’re special and not special at the same time.” Now if that doesn’t sound like a theme for a Zach Braff film, I don’t know what is.
The Shining by Badly Drawn Boy
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they are comforted by someone they love. In Wish I Was Here, Badly Drawn Boy’s ‘The Shining’ is used in a scene where Braff’s character Aidan bonds with his kids during a camping trip in the Californian desert. This is a song for one of those touching moments in your life. It’s also a tune that can put you at peace and help you find solace.
Blue Eyes by Cary Brothers
Feeling romantic? If you need an extra dose of emotion, choose Cary Brothers’ ‘Blue Eyes’ to express how you feel. After all, his songs HAVE been used in dramas such as One Tree Hill, Grey’s Anatomy and Scrubs.
With lyrics like, “All the lights on and you are alive/But you can’t point the way to your heart/So sublime, when the stars are aligned/But you don’t know/You don’t know the greatness you are,” it doesn’t even matter if your significant other doesn’t have blue eyes. This song tells him/her how great they are no matter what, and that’s pretty special in itself.
Heavenly Father by Bon Iver
There’s something particularly special about Bon Iver’s ‘Heavenly Father.’ Written specifically for Wish I Was Here, the song plays during a climatic scene in the movie where Braff’s character is going through a tough time.
Featuring a minimal drum beat and the loop of Vernon’s vocals, this song is ideal for any crucial life changing moment you are experiencing.
So Now What by The Shins
As you reach a new milestone in your life, The Shins’ ‘So Now What’ will serve as the perfect credits song if your life were a movie. This is the type of song you should play to sum up everything – from the lessons you’ve learned and how far you’ve come along, just like Braff’s character in Wish I Was Here.
After all, it’s exactly the explanation The Shins’ James Mercer uses in describing why he wrote this particular tune (used for Wish I Was Here): “I struggled with it for a few days and called [Zach Braff] and told him I was having a hard time coming up with anything. I was trying to write about specific themes in the movie and I found that to be a bit of a challenge. He told me to just write something I felt like would fit the film, so I just wrote a song I felt summed up the movie, and he just loved it. And I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done; people probably say that time of shit a lot, but I’m really proud of it.”