Various Artists – Wonder Boys: Music from the Motion Picture: #507 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Various Artists - Wonder Boys - Music from the Motion Picture

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

It occurs to me that for people unfamiliar with it, particularly young people perhaps, Wonder Boys the movie might easily be confused with the blizzard of superhero related fare that’s produced these days – up to and including the TV series, The Boys, and the latest reboot of the Wonder Woman film franchise.

Wonder Boys, based on the novel* by Michael Chabon and released in 2000, is an absolute gem of a film that involves no superhero or supernatural stuff whatsoever. It’s in that rarified class of movies that perfectly balances comedy and drama, powered by outstanding writing and equally stellar performances. Adventureland is another example of this kind of flick, which happens to be one of my most favorite movies of all time.

* Chabon is a great writer, but for me this was one of the rare instances where I hold a movie in much higher esteem than the book on which it’s based.

Wonder Boys is about a once promising novelist, played brilliantly by Michael Douglas, turned burnout pot smoking English professor at a Pennsylvania liberal arts college. Grady’s life isn’t going that well, and things get more… complicated when his New York-based agent, played by Robert Downey, Jr, shows up, followed by Grady accidentally shooting the dog of his boss/husband of the woman (Frances McDormand) he’s having an affair with, And then things get really interesting from there.

The cast also includes Tobey Maguire, who plays a talented, oddball, serial lying student of Grady’s, Katie Holmes, and Rip Torn.

If you haven’t seen Wonder Boys, trust me: see it.

And that’s not even counting the soundtrack! It features four Bob Dylan songs, and even though only one of those is original to the Wonder Boys soundtrack, it’s in my Top 5 Dylan songs easily, and it’s arguably Top 3. Talk about rarified air.

That song is “Things Have Changed,” an endlessly listenable, wildly catchy, jingle jangling acoustic guitar number that’s a lament on the relentless passing of time and how things can get, well, strange in the process. It’s simply phenomenal and as bonus it also tracks Grady’s journey in the movie perfectly.

People are crazy and times are strange
I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

I’ve mentioned Leonard Cohen’s “Waiting for the Miracle” before, because it’s dark and beguiling and odd and deeply wonderful. One great thing about compilation albums such as this is that it allows me to “capture” songs like this that didn’t happen to get released on other albums that didn’t make the best 1,000 albums ever list (including Songs of Leonard Cohen, which came in at #888).

Another perfect example: John Lennon’s “Watching the Wheels,” which is a Top 5 solo Lennon effort for me. To overkill the use of the word “wonderful,” it is just that.

Oh, and one of the other Dylan songs included on the soundtrack is “Not Dark Yet,” yet another masterpiece, this one off of Time Out of Mind from 1997, dark and sad and beautiful.

Some stats & info about the Wonder Boys soundtrack

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Compilations, Move Soundtracks, Rock Music, Folk Rock, Singer Songwriter
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
  • When was the Wonder Boys soundtrack released? 2000
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #507 out of 1,000

The Wonder Boys soundtrack on Spotify

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.