How Robert Plant Helped Curate the ‘Green Book’ Soundtrack
Robert Plant is partially responsible for the music found in Green Book, Peter Ferrelly's Academy Award-nominated movie about jazz pianist Don Shirley and his experiences with racism on tour in the early '60s. In a new interview, writer and director Peter Farrelly revealed that a dinner with Plant helped turn him on to the songs that were eventually used.
"My wife's friend was going out with Robert Plant of all people, we went out to dinner and I picked his brain," Farrelly told Forbes. "I said, 'Robert, tell me some songs that you listened to in the late '50s and early '60s that nobody plays anymore. I want to hear the cool songs to you but that you haven't heard on the radio in 50 years.'"
"It was an amazing night because I had just finished writing the script and he came to visit with his girlfriend, who was my wife's friend," he continued. "And my wife and her are both smokers, so they were outside smoking cigarettes and we were on YouTube and he was pulling up song after song after song and I was sitting there like a crazy student writing down all the stuff."
Plant put his encyclopedic knowledge of American music to the test, playing Farrelly songs like "Pretty Lil' Thing" by Sonny Boy Williamson and "Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye" by Robert Mosley. Its soundtrack, which combines some of Plant's recommendations with Kris Bowers' original score and one of Shirley's own recordings, has received more than a million streams to date. Farrelly added that using more obscure songs had a few benefits.
"Number one is it didn't feel like Happy Days," he said, "like playing all the songs we've heard over and over. But also those songs were really inexpensive and I did not have a huge budget so I was able to come up with some sensational pop songs from the time that were long forgotten."