Rob Gordon, the obsessive music fan played by John Cusack in the new movie "High Fidelity," would probably be pleased to know that many well-known musicians are themselves fans of his story, originally told in a 1996 novel of the same name.
"I enjoyed that book a lot," No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont said, adding that he can't quite relate to the fanatical mindset it depicts.
In the movie, as in the book, the main character and the friends he employs in his record store argue incessantly about such pressing issues as whether the Mitch Ryder version of the '60s chestnut "Little Latin Lupe Lu" is superior to the Righteous Brothers version.
Dumont's bandmate, singer Gwen Stefani, went as far as to audition for a part in "High Fidelity," he said, although she doesn't appear in the film.
A number of musicians did play an active part in the movie, which was released Friday. Most notably, Bruce Springsteen — who, incidentally, has been known to cover "Little Latin Lupe Lu" in concert — makes a memorable cameo appearance. Springsteen offers Cusack's character romantic advice in a fantasy sequence while churning out blues licks on a Fender guitar.
Cult Band Finds Itself On Inside
Indie noise-rockers Royal Trux play a less visible but equally important part in the movie — or rather, their song "Inside Game" (RealAudio excerpt) does.
The tune, which the band originally released on an EP earlier this year, is presented as the work of two young punk rockers. Cusack's character's life changes when he decides to release their record.
"They needed music that this imaginary, fictitious band would be playing — we were totally into it," said Royal Trux co-leader Jennifer Herrema. Herrema and her partner in the band, Neil Hagerty, remixed the track to match the filmmakers' concept of the fictional group.
"They wanted more sampling, because the British guy who was in charge of putting all the stuff together thought that was the best way to indicate the year 2000," Herrema said. "It's kinda cool — I'm definitely gonna go see the movie."
Though most other songs on the movie's soundtrack don't play as important a role in its plot, they're still more essential to the film than most soundtrack fodder.
"I'm Wrong About Everything" (RealAudio excerpt), a catchy midtempo track by British singer/songwriter John Wesley Harding, eerily echoes the movie's themes of romantic self-doubt, even though it was not written specifically for the film.
Harding, an acquaintance of "High Fidelity" author Nick Hornby, called the similarity "a bizarre coincidence."
"Given that Nick Hornby and I are not a million years apart, given that we support the same football team and went to the same college — that might be the reason for that," he said.
Harding, who also will include "I'm Wrong About Everything" on his next album, said he was flattered simply to be part of the soundtrack, which was released last month on Hollywood Records.
"It's a great movie to have your song in, because it's a movie about great music," Harding said. The soundtrack also includes icons Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello, with latter-day critical favorites Stereolab and the Beta Band, both of whom are discussed in the movie.
Not Everyone's A Fan
Not all the artists heard in the movie and on the album are fans of the cult book. Singer/songwriter Sheila Nicholls, whose Sarah McLachlan-like ballad "Fallen for You" is a featured track, never finished reading it.
Still, she said, she was struck by the story's universality. "It's a very specific passion, but it's a passion that a lot of people can identify with."
And Bill Callahan, mastermind of the lo-fi one-man-band Smog — whose track "Cold Blooded Old Times" (RealAudio excerpt) is featured — said he liked the book about as much as its characters enjoy Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You."
"It didn't really do that much for me," Callahan said. "I thought it was really kind of breezy."
(Staff Writer Teri vanHorn contributed to this report.)