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SoundTRAX: "Good Will Hunting"

Matt Damon is laughing with Robin Williams.
Capitol Records
/
Miramax Films

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

Actress Minnie Driver is celebrating a birthday today, so today's SoundTRAX is taking a look at the music from 1997's Good Will Hunting.

We all know the tale of virtual unknowns Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and their Cinderella story of writing the story that would not only launch them both into the stratosphere, but earn them Academy Awards for Best Screenplay as well. The film itself was nominated for nine Oscars total, with Best Supporting Actor going to Robin Williams, who played the therapist treating Damon's character, a custodian at MIT who's discovered to be a mathematical genius.

Acclaimed director Gus Van Sant was behind the camera and prolific composer and former Oingo Boingo frontman Danny Elfman did the score, so big names and heavy hitters were in strong supply.

Plenty of well-known artists have strong tunes in the film as well, including The Waterboys, Al Green, Luscious Jackson, The Dandy Warhols, and Gerry Rafferty.

But it was Van Sant who chose the true star of the compilation, a fellow Portland artist named Elliott Smith.

Smith recorded an orchestral version of "Between the Bars" with composer Elfman, as well as contributing three previously released songs: "Angeles" and "Say Yes" from his Either/Or album, and "No Name #3" from his 1994 debut release Roman Candle.

But it was Smith's original composition that captured everyone's attention, one that garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. One that he begrudgingly performed during the ceremony, only because producers said they'd have someone else do it if he didn't.

Unfortunately, this was the year of Titanic, so Smith lost to Celine Dion and "My Heart Will Go On."

And for better or worse, it made a very reluctant star out of Smith, a stardom he was in no way equipped to handle, with addiction and mental health issues contributing to his tragic death at just 34.

But, oh what a beautiful, melancholy song.

For today's SoundTRAX selection, from Good Will Hunting it's Elliott Smith with "Miss Misery."

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