In Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, ’70s tunes permeate the score like swamp gas in a monster movie. Throughout the film, Dogs‘ collection of thieves tune in to ”K-Billy, the station where the ’70s survived.” Not since the ”Singin’ in the Rain” rape scene in A Clockwork Orange has pop music so aptly served as a sardonic overture to ultraviolence. Here, the most striking juxtapositions of hit tunes and hit-man behavior:
*SONG: ”Little Green Bag,” George Baker Selection’s 1970 ode to marijuana paranoia. *LYRIC: ”Lookin’ back on the track for a little green bag/ Gotta find just the kind for losin’ my mind.” *SCENE: The song’s jittery beat expresses the shot nerves of the thieves, who fear cops and hunt jewels instead of ganja. The line ”Turn to the left, turn to the right/ Lookin’ upstairs, lookin’ behind” segues into a complex cops-and-robbers chase sequence begun by one bloodied thief wailing, ”I’m gonna die!”
*SONG: ”I Gotcha,” Joe Tex’s 1972 song about an elusive lover. *LYRIC: ”Ya thought I didn’t see ya now, didn’ ya?… I gotcha, haw haw haw!” *SCENE: The crooks confront a policeman they’ve taken hostage (Kirk Baltz). Tex’s exclamations counterpoint the cop’s grunts while he’s handcuffed, punched, and kicked in the spleen.
*SONG: ”Stuck in the Middle With You,” Gerry Rafferty’s cryptic 1973 hit with Stealers Wheel. *LYRIC: ”Well I don’t know why I came here tonight/ I got the feelin’ that something ain’t right/ I’m so scared I guess I’ll fall off my chair/ And I’m wonderin’ how I’ll get down the stairs/ Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right/ Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” *SCENE: With the cop tied to a chair by a psycho (Michael Madsen) holding a razor, the tune’s hooky phrase, ”Ple-e-e-ease! Ple-e-e-ease!” takes on a sinister new meaning, as does the line ”Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor?/ I don’t think that I can take any more.”