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Favorite Soundtracks: Reality Bites

The 'Reality Bites' soundtrack is one of the only audio cassettes I still have. I haven't given this album a listen in quite awhile, but it will always remain a favorite.

One of my local radio stations here in Cleveland, WKDD, has something called “’90s at noon” where the station plays only ’90s music for an hour. Before I knew about this show, I turned on the radio during this time one day and thought that I had the wrong station or that they had changed things around. But when I found out about it, I was very excited. You see, I might be one of the only people you know who actually likes ’90s music.

One of the best movie albums to come out of this decade was the Reality Bites soundtrack. It has a little bit of pop, a little bit of alternative, some rock, and some weird stuff. Here’s the playlist for the soundtrack:

  1. “My Sharona” — The Knack
  2. “Spin the Bottle” — The Juliana Hatfield 3
  3. “Bed of Roses” — The Indians
  4. “When You Come Back To Me” — World Party
  5. “Going, Going, Gone” — The Posies
  6. “Stay (I Missed You)” — Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories
  7. “All I Want Is You” — U2
  8. “Locked Out” — Crowded House
  9. “Spinning Around Over You” — Lenny Kravitz
  10. “I’m Nuthin'” — Ethan Hawke
  11. “Turnip Farm” — Dinosaur Jr.
  12. “Revival!” — Me Phi Me
  13. “Tempted (94)” — Squeeze
  14. “Baby, I Love Your Way” — Big Mountain

Similar to my thoughts about TV theme songs, a movie soundtrack has to not only have great songs, but it also has to embody the feeling of the movie as well. The songs need to create a story and come together to create a mood. To me, the mood of Reality Bites (which stars Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke,  Janeane Garafolo, and Steve Zahn) is quirky, angsty, non-conformist, yet still vulnerable. It’s about trusting your instincts and doing what makes you happy instead of what you think is most profitable or conventional.

A film soundtrack, if listened to at the right time in one’s life, often provides a personal memory stamp of a particular year, time period, or transition. In 1994, I was in eighth grade and about to leave middle school. I was nervous about high school, but excited at the thought of becoming a new person with a fresh identity — much like Laney wanted upon graduating from college. We all hope that, when starting anew in our next endeavor, we can erase all of our mistakes and try again from scratch.

Now, as an adult, I realize just how few mistakes a girl of 14 could have made. At 31, there’s a whole lot more of my life behind me, and there are fewer and fewer chances to start over. Yet, there’s a stability that comes with getting older, a settling in, and (if you’re lucky) you’d rather keep living the life you have now than do it all over again. And not because you’re admitting defeat or giving up, but rather, because you’re actually happy.

Here’s one of my favorite musical moments in Reality Bites. I had a hard time choosing just one, but this one has become rather iconic. (Wow, can I say that about something coming from the ’90s? Cool!)


Reminiscing about my formative years, and along with them, the movie soundtracks that have accompanied the events in my life, is important to me. Part of the reason that’s true is that buying a soundtrack has become a lost art. Why get the whole album (including all those strange “filler” songs) when you can just pick and choose your favorites and just download those? I’m really glad to have enjoyed the Reality Bites soundtrack in its entirety … over, and over, and over again.

Photo Credit: Universal Studios

Categories: Features, General

2 Responses to “Favorite Soundtracks: Reality Bites”

April 12, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Great movie, great soundtrack. My favorite off that album has to be the Juliana Hatfield song. I remember the video constantly playing on MTV (a station that used to play music videos). I loved the video so much because if I remember correctly (too lazy to go to youtube)it incorporated itself into the narrative of the film. Good times.

April 12, 2011 at 7:32 PM

Cool! My favorite is “When You Come Back To Me.” Not sure why … I just always think of that song first.

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