There Won’t Be Minnie Coming Home: Roy Orbison Rocks The Hateful Eight

Sex, drugs, and most importantly, rock ’n’ roll. A pretty admirable triad by the standards of most Tarantino fans. But why is it that rock ’n’ roll trumps the alluring world of sex and drugs? Clarence and Alabama Worley, Vincent Vega, Jules Winnfield, and Mia Wallace are all no nonsense badasses with some minor lifestyle flaws. Each character is caught up in some form of prostitution, drug trafficking, and/or stimulant addictions, yet they all are held to a respectably high regard. The only thing that distinguishes them from the low-lifes of America is rock ’n’ roll. Each character draws a seductive edge similar to that of Roy Orbison from their rock ’n’ roll lifestyle Tarantino portrays.

Shoot first, ask questions later. All with a girl at his side. Rock on, Roy.

So where does this rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle come from? Elvis Presley is undoubtedly the first big face of rock ’n’ roll. His sexually charged dancing combined with his notorious drug abuse paved the way for aspiring artists living up to his image. Although not necessarily living in Elvis’s image, Roy Orbison followed closely in his path. His goal every time he stepped on stage was to entertain. He had no problem embracing rock ’n’ roll’s new attitude if it got the right reaction. Thus began a new era of not only music, but culture, known for its upheaval of innocence. Rock ’n’ roll was now a justification for the negative stigmas connected to it. It is so that sex and drugs follows rock ’n’ roll. Sex and drugs without rock ’n’ roll may be trashy, but rock ’n’ roll without sex and drugs is no longer rock ’n’ roll. Combine the three and you have the recipe for a Tarantino rock star, such as Elvis Presley, which he models many characters after.

Roy Orbison was everything Quentin Tarantino could have wanted. He’s in many ways interchangeable with Tarantino’s idolized rock star, Elvis Presley. Approaching the decline of his musical career, Orbison followed in the footsteps of Elvis and began to explore the world of film. From this came Orbison’s first role in which he played a Confederate spy on a mission towards the end of the Civil War in The Fastest Guitar Alive. It was for this movie he wrote the Tarantino adopted “There Won’t Be Many Coming Home.” Orbison, much like Tarantino, idolized Elvis and was influenced by him in many more ways than a rather unsuccessful attempt at an acting career. Tarantino was transitively in love with Roy Orbison. This love triangle was inspired by none other than rock ‘n’ roll. Elvis and Roy were innovators that added a rock twist to the music industry, while Quentin has added this twist to filmmaking. Similar criticisms are even seen among the 3 claiming they are too over-the-top, whether it be for sexually suggestive dancing or unnecessary violence and gore.

As the Civil War wound down to a halt, or at least legally, the story of both The Hateful Eight and The Fastest Guitar Alive begins. With the end of a long, bloody war came an uneasy relationship between the South and their northern neighbors. Tension between the two was not easily suppressed and eventually blood began to flow in each movie. Former Confederate soldier Major Marquis Warren breaks the seal in The Hateful Eight by perversely taunting then killing General Smithers of the Union. Shit hits the fan shortly after this scene when the community “coffy” pot is poisoned. Daisy Domergue, a captured outlaw, knows of the poisoned joe, but keeps to herself and picks up a guitar similar to one in The Fastest Guitar Alive. She plays Jim Jones at Botany Bay; an Australian tune that tells a tale parallel to her own. Both Daisy and Jim Jones are being forcibly taken to a near certain death. The song ends with revenge with the murder of those holding Jim Jones, or Daisy in this case, captive.

A problem of frontier justice versus civilized justice, a major theme in The Hateful Eight, uncovers itself through the lyrics and story told in “There Won’t Be Many Coming Home,” which starts merely one second before the cut to credits is made. Both the song and movie utilize the frontier versus civilized justice theme with each telling a story parallel to the others. The first verse of the song coincides with the first part of the movie. No real action takes place, but the stage is being set for bloodshed. The second verse tells the story of General Smithers. Smithers is represented by the “old folks” that had “their children marched away,” leaving him alone in the world. His son went searching for riches through a bounty, but only found frontier justice and the vengeance of Major Warren. Major Warren recites the story of General Smithers’ son finding him, which antagonizes him enough to reach for a gun. Major Marquis beats him to it, thus popping off a start to the killing. The third and fourth verses are where Orbison thrashes the concepts of war and frontier justice. Through targeting pathos, Orbison explains that fighting is not worth a human life. Throughout these two verses the second half of the movie rages on and everyone except Major Warren and Sheriff of the nearest town, Chris Mannix. The strong opposition to frontier justice is represented through the massive amounts of death. Who really wins if everyone dies except for two severely injured and stranded men? Had everyone stuck inside of Minnie’s haberdashery practiced civilized justice, this might not have been the case. But that’s not how Tarantino works.

“He May be the younger brother who ran away
And before you kill another
Listen to what I say”
“If they all came back but one
He was still some mother’s son”
Warren and Mannix lie together as the only living bodies in Minnie’s Haberdashery as “There Won’t Be Many Coming Home” begins through an offscreen source.

Music rolls as the final shot is held and is immediately followed by the credits. Tarantino inserts “There Won’t Be Many Coming Home” as a non-diegetic sound that doesn’t just fill sound for the credits, but takes the entire film to another level. Placing it at the curtain helps the audience relate everything they just watched back to the song. It allows one to focus on the song and nothing else. It facilitates the audiences thought that links the movie and the song. Mostly, it shows why Roy Orbison and Quentin Tarantino are rock ’n’ roll maestros.

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