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SoundTRAX: "Lost in Translation"

Bill Murray sits on a hotel bed in his robe and slippers.
Emperor Norton Records
Focus Features

SoundTRAX is a dive into notable music from iconic films and TV shows every Monday-Thursday at 8:10.

Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation turns 20 this week!

Bill Murray stars as a fading film star in Japan to shill a brand of whisky. He meets a fellow American, a recent college graduate named Charlotte, played by Scarlett Johansson, whom he bonds with over their mutual troubled marriages and their discomfort at being the proverbial fish out of water in a foreign country.

Coppola only wanted Murray for the role of Bob Harris and spent a year trying to get the notoriously reclusive actor on board through phone calls and letters. Finally Murray agreed to meet Coppola at a restaurant and accepted the role. Kind of.

There was no signed contract. Nothing legally requiring Murray to do the gig. Poor Coppola just had to worry and have faith he would show up for filming in Tokyo.

He did, of course, garnering the best reviews of his career.

And if there's one film whose music really acts as a member of the cast, Lost in Translation is one of the best examples.

The soundtrack was supervised by Brian Reitzell— with input from Coppola— and features moody, melancholy tunes with an emphasis on shoegaze and dreampop.

The Jesus and Mary Chain, Air, Phoenix, Death in Vegas, and Squarepusher are a few of the bands that make up the compilation.

But I love how not only is My Bloody Valentine featured— shoegaze pioneers after all— frontman Kevin Shields provides four original tunes for the album.

There are three mesmerizing instrumentals, but for today's SoundTRAX selection I'm going with the one with vocals.

For the 20th anniversary of Lost in Translation, it's My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields with "City Girl."

Mel is the WFPK morning host. Email Mel at mfisher@lpm.org.

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