Zach Braff wrote, directed, and starred in his 2004 film Garden State. Autobiographical in nature, it follows the story of Andrew Largeman as he makes his way home to New Jersey for his mother’s funeral.
Zach had a heavy hand in picking the music for the movie’s soundtrack. His excellent musical taste even won him a Grammy for the film score.
The Garden State soundtrack is heavy on alternative rock and indie artists. Take a listen to the moody song selection below.
- Don’t Panic – Coldplay
- Caring is Creepy – The Shins
- In the Waiting Line – Zero 7
- New Slang – The Shins
- I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You – Colin Hay
- Blue Eyes – Cary Brothers
- Fair – Remy Zero
- One of These Things First – Nick Drake
- Lebanese Blonde – Thievery Corporation
- The Only Living Boy in New York – Simon & Garfunkel
- Such Great Heights – Iron & Wine
- Let Go – Frou Frou
- Winding Road – Bonnie Somerville
Don’t Panic – Coldplay
Coldplay frontman Chris Martin wrote ‘Don’t Panic’ as a ballad about the world’s end. Its doomsday feel went perfectly with a pivotal scene in the film when the main protagonist receives tragic news about his mother. As he processes his emotions, he stares into a bathroom mirror, and ‘Don’t Panic’ is heard in the background.
Related: Hear more sad songs on our list of emotion songs.
Caring is Creepy – The Shins
Despite ‘Caring is Creepy’ having designated “fan-favorite” status in the Shins crowd, the song was never actually released as a single. The song gained even more popularity, though, when Zach Braff hand-picked the song for the soundtrack. The song plays when the main character is riding around on a motorcycle but gets pulled over by a classmate-turned-cop.
Related: If you want more songs about motorcycles, you’ll like these songs from Easy Rider.
In the Waiting Line – Zero 7
Tackling the issue of depression with beautiful instrumentation and metaphorical lyrics, this hazy and moody track can be heard during a scene when protagonist Andrew experiences a high like never before while experimenting at a party. The song also appears on Zero 7’s 2001 album Simple Things.
New Slang – The Shins
“You gotta listen to this song. It’ll change your life.” Alternative rock band, The Shins, scored a couple of different placements for their songs in this indie film. ‘New Slang’ can be heard through headphones when protagonist Andrew is convinced by his love interest Sam (played by Natalie Portman) to listen to this Shins tune while they are waiting in a doctor’s office.
I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You – Colin Hay
Part of Zach Braff’s storyline in his self-directed film involves him getting to know the mysterious, quirky Sam played by Natalie Portman. Colin Hay’s ‘I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You’ plays in one scene as Andrew makes his way home from Sam’s house. Hays wrote the tune after a long bout with alcoholism that cost him his marriage.
Related: Check out this list of regret songs.
Blue Eyes – Cary Brothers
Cause blues eyes, you are all that I need.’ This Cary Brothers tune from the mid-1970s was the first one to put the band on the map. The tune evokes mystery and romance and plays as source music during a restaurant scene. In the song, the subject of “blue eyes” takes on many different meanings, including sadness, a possible love interest, and failed relationships.
Related: Find similar songs on our playlist of blue eyes songs.
Fair – Remy Zero
It’s hard not to love Natalie Portman’s character Sam in the film. During one scene, as Remy Zero’s ‘Fair’ plays, she is pretending to tap dance for protagonist Andrew in front of a fireplace. The song deals with a failed relationship and a person trying to come back to a love that has been lost due to time apart.
Related: If you’ve lost a love, listen to these lost love songs.
One of These Things First – Nick Drake
A song that goes hand-in-hand with main character Andrew Largeman’s lifelong struggle with identity, Nick Drake uses simple piano, guitar, and image-heavy lyrics to sing about what could have been. ‘One of These Things First’ initially appeared on Drake’s 1971 album, Bryter Layter.
Lebanese Blonde – Thievery Corporation
This 1998 single re-released by the band in 2000 made it into the movie during a scene in which main character Andrew and his friends are out and about and end up in a store. The song’s title is a slang term to cover up the fact that it’s about smoking. The title makes a direct reference to the particular type the band enjoys.
The Only Living Boy in New York – Simon & Garfunkel
Songwriter Paul Simon originally wrote this tune when his writing partner Art Garfunkel was headed to Mexico for an acting gig in a movie called Catch-22. It appears on the duo’s last album, the 1970 release Bridge Over Troubled Water. The song can also be heard in an emotional scene in the indie film when protagonist Andrew and his friends are positioned on top of rocks and screaming into a ravine. Good times!
Related: This song is also on our list of best New York songs.
Such Great Heights – Iron & Wine
Originally a single release by the band The Postal Service, singer-songwriter Iron & Wine’s cover version also received a lot of attention. Not only was it used in the movie, but it also appeared in commercials for M&Ms! The song is a reflection on love and how the closer you look at it, the less perfect it appears.
Let Go – Frou Frou
Artists Guy Sigsworth and Imogen Heap collaborated in 2002 to form the group Frou Frou. After only one album, though, they split. ‘Let Go’ appears on that album (Details), and it appears in the movie during a final scene when Andrew and his quirky love interest Sam share a kiss at an airport.
Related: Here are the best songs about planes.
Winding Road – Bonnie Somerville
“Well, the rain keeps on coming down. It feels like a flood in my head.” Bonnie Somerville’s poignant ballad plays during the end credits. It’s an introspective tune that goes perfectly with the movie’s reflective tone.
Related: See more on our list of home songs.