Celebrating 30 Years Of ‘The Crow’ Soundtrack

When James O’Barr sat down to write The Crow in 1988 not searching for fame or fortune. Rather, it was a way to cope with the unexpected death of his fiancée, who was killed by a drunk driver. This indie comic would go on to spawn a successful cult film starring the late Brandon Lee in 1994. It would also produce one of the most defining movie soundtracks of the 1990s.

The Crow: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the holy grail of alternative music. Rather than focus on grunge, which had hit the mainstream at that point, the soundtrack featured industrial, which was having its own mainstream moment at the time, goth rock, alternative, and heavy metal. Whereas most soundtracks had one, maybe two, good songs, The Crow soundtrack was a no skips album. And it boasted an impressive roster: The Crow’s lineup includes several heavy hitters, such as Rage Against the Machine, The Cure, Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Executive produced by Jeff Most and Jolene Cherry, the idea was to create a hard rock and metal soundtrack featuring mostly original or cover songs. Luckily, the bands chosen were up for the task. Nine Inch Nails covered Joy Division’s “Dead Souls,” The Cure penned “Burned,” which is now one of their live staples, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult re-recorded their song “Nervous Xians” and retitled “After the Flesh,” and Rollins Band covered Suicide’s “Ghost Rider.”

Having an original song by The Cure and a Joy Division cover directly tied into The Crow as both bands heavily influenced O’Barr as he was writing the comics. He even incorporated lyrics from both bands into the comics and even dedicated one of the comics to Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis.

Thanks to its stacked lineup and the movie’s popularity, the soundtrack became a staple of the 1990s. It was one of those albums everyone seemed to have a copy of, similar to Nirvana’s Nevermind or Green Day’s Dookie. The soundtrack was so popular that it would sell 3.8 million copies. It’s been certified 3x platinum since its release.

Today, the album turns 30 years old and it still sounds as fresh and exciting as ever. Unlike other blockbuster soundtracks of the era, it’s not dated or filled with the top 40 hits of the year. Instead, it’s a carefully curated collection of original songs that directly tie into the movie and its themes of anger, loss, true love, and pain. Because of this, it continues to resonate with listeners three decades after its release. It’s one of those rare soundtracks that truly stands the test of time.

Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Illinois Entertainer. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Creeper, and Green Day.

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