Have you ever stopped and thought about movie soundtracks, about how difficult it must be to find the slam-dunk, 100% perfect song for a particular scene? I'm not talking about movie scores which are by definition perfect for their moment, since they've been composed specifically.
No, I'm talking about choosing a song that's been written by someone totally unconnected with the film, probably written in a completely different context. Something like the Chuck Berry tune, "You Never Can Tell", that John Travolta and Uma Thurman dance to in "Pulp Fiction", for example, or The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey" from the closing moments of "Lost in Translation".
When it works, it really works, and you can imagine the relief, the triumph that whoever selected that song feels; you can almost picture them laughing with pleasure and saying "Well, who knew?"
Well, imagine a whole damn film where every single song is one of those "who knew" moments. Imagine a movie based on a book which manages to find the perfect song for every kind of emotion, every kind of accident of everyday life. Imagine "High Fidelity."
If you're a rock snob, then this is for you. If you're a thirty-something slacker who's working his way through the music business by running a record store, then this *is* you.
And, like any good rock snob with an extensive collection, you yourself have the perfect soundtrack to your life. There's never a moment that can't be summed up in a ten-second clip from a dusty 45, a slightly mangled cassette or even a coffee-stained CD. "High Fidelity" proves beyond doubt that if you leave a man alone in a room with a pile of records and a stereo he can make his own entertainment for... oh, a month or two.
I pick this song because it's the greatest song of a collection of great songs from the film, because it's the final track, the resolution, the happy ending; and because any song that can gather in and encapsulate a truly happy ending deserves to be recognised.
But most of all it's a SongWithoutWhich because of the genius of Stevie Wonder.