Listening to the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack echoes the experience of viewing this unique film; the 26 songs bring the listener in and out of the conscious and the dream/memory states presented in the movie.
Consisting of seventeen scores by Jon Brion — who also provided scores for Punch Drunk Love and Magnolia — as well as rock and pop tunes from classic and fresh artists alike, the latter generate a feeling of vitality and awareness while the scores keep calling the listener back into very powerful, sometimes erratic moments reminiscent of a sequence of flashbacks.
Tracks from E.L.O. (“Mr. Blue Sky”), The Polyphonic Spree (“Light and Day”/”It’s the Sun”), Lata Mangashkar (“Wada Na Tod”) and The Willowz (“Sometimes”) are vigorous and energetic. Beck’s cover of the Korgis’ “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes” recalls life lessons learned. The Willowz’s “I Wonder” contains a self-conscious message and culminates with the line “Please set me free” being repeated several times. The two Don Nelson songs are jazzy, footloose and fun.
Collectively, these songs reflect a certain sense of living in the moment that is so brightly depicted in the film during the scenes in which Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are together and well connected. Many of these songs are also sunshine-themed or contain lyrics about the sun, connecting the music to the film even more so.
Jon Brion’s scores forge a momentum of eccentricity that is found in the film’s more abstract moments, the moments during which memories are the center of attention. Several play like old phonograph records or filmstrips (“Collecting Things” and “Phone Call”, for example). Others are haunting, sounding like frightening nursery rhymes, too-fast carousel rides, funeral processions, or chases that end in funhouses. Many repeat music found in other scores on the soundtrack, primarily tying back to the only Brion song with vocals, “Strings That Tie To You”. The final score of the ESOTSM soundtrack, “Elephant Parade”, strays from the tone of many of the others, and gives a feeling of starting over.
Because of its variety, the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack bears in mind the bitter-sweetness of the film itself.