Goodfellas: Music From the Motion Picture: #539 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Various Artists - Goodfellas - Music from the Motion Picture

So why is the Goodfellas soundtrack on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to write about the Goodfellas soundtrack for the best 1,000 albums project!

If that sentence above doesn’t ring a bell, it plays off the first line from my favorite movie of all time (that’d be Goodfellas, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Lorraine Bracco, Joe Pesci, and too many other legends to note here):

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.

Trust me, I could go on (and on and on… as my wife would be happy to relay) about Goodfellas the movie, but we’re here to talk about Goodfellas the music from the motion picture.

Goodfellas is jam packed with music. So much in fact that there’s a bunch of incredible songs that did not end up on the “official” soundtrack.

Of these, arguably the two most notable are “Jump Into the Fire” by Harry Nilsson (oh, those choppers ain’t a coincidence, Henry and Karen) and Sid Vicious’ gloriously raucous punk rock cover of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” which plays as a shocking and cheekily defiant final note as the credits roll.

Scorsese is also well known for including The Rolling Stones in his movies, and he lives up to his reputation big time with Goodfellas, inserting three Stones tracks into the film, including “Monkey Man” and “Gimme Shelter” off of Let It Bleed*.

* Songs which practically scream “1970s excess” and throw a spotlight on the mirage of the mob life portrayed in the first half of the film – a mirage that fades faster than the dirt off the shoes “Spit Shine Tommy” would attend to back in the day, using his trusty shine box.

Okay, now we’re onto the official soundtrack itself! I’ll defer to what I wrote about Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love,” from the entry for Disraeli Gears, with relation to its use in one of my most favorite moments in all of film history:

Jimmy’s sitting at the bar, smoking, and he’s thinking. He’s thinking hard. And it’s all in De Niro’s face, in his eyes. His crew had pulled off the Lufthansa heist, one of the biggest robberies in history. But maybe it was a little too big, see? Paranoia, greed, resentment start creeping in. Maybe it’s just easier to whack a bunch of guys and not have to worry about them talking. Ratting. After all, Jimmy’s not unaccustomed to knocking off a few guys if they turn into a problem, right?

And all the while, in this tiny moment, we hear “Sunshine of Your Love,” and it’s absolutely perfect.

It’s also an incredible song, of course, and has one of the best hard rock guitar riffs I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing.

Many of the songs captured on the Goodfellas soundtrack harken back to an earlier era, the 1950s and 1960s, which represent the idealized version of the mob life, a time when if you’re part of the “police department for wise guys,” you are literally untouchable, a rock star within the neighborhood.

Tony Bennett’s “Rags to Riches,” which we hear at the beginning of the movie, showcases this dynamic.

But then we also get the wildly different sound of heavy blues rock by way of Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy,” which cuts into the manic, frantic scenes late in the film that lead up to… well, if you know, you know.

The final track on the album is the wonderful “Layla” by Derek & The Dominos, where we get another classic Eric Clapton guitar riff along with a sad, pretty, and contemplative piano-driven section that accompanies the scene in Goodfellas where bodies are discovered all over the tri-state area.

Yet more fallout from Jimmy’s paranoia over the Lufthansa heist.

The policemen for wise guys ended up being better at breaking the peace rather than keeping it as things turned out.

And now it’s all over.

Some stats & info about the Goodfellas soundtrack

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Compilations, Film Soundtrack
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked (you believe that??)!
  • All Music’s rating – not rated!  
  • When was the Goodfellas soundtrack released? 1990
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #539 out of 1,000

The Goodfellas soundtrack on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from the Goodfellas soundtrack that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

Must I forever be a beggar whose golden dreams will not come true? Or will I go from rags to riches? My fate is up to you.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.