The track "Loving in Los Angeles" was specifically written for the film. I got a lot of the inspiration from the film composer, Jon Brion. Brion is somebody I've admired for a long time. His soundtrack to the great Paul Thomas Anderson film, "Punch-Drunk Love," changed my life. I saw the movie when I was a senior in high school and never before had I experienced such a quirky, dark and hilarious love story put to beautiful music. Both complimented each other tremendously. I think the Overture to the soundtrack is very reminiscent of the great Fellini track by Nino Rota, "Amarcord.."
I've always loved the accordion and was so happy it worked in this particular scene. Sometimes it can come off sounding too comical or not serious. But I tried to subdue the instrument a bit. Again, you'll hear my love for those lush, Jackie Gleason-ish strings. The accordion melody actually came to me when I was listening to a song entitled "Once in Love with Amy," sung by Dean Martin. Going into the bridge of the song, you'll hear the same triplet pattern and almost exact same notes. It's subtle but was something for years I had fixed in my mind of wanting to use that pattern.
Probably the most iconic part of "Punch-Drunk Love"for me is Harry Nilsson's "He Needs Me" section in the film. It was originally written for the Robert Altman film, "Popeye," a quirky film that got crushed by the critics but one I happen to love. I don't know if it was PT Anderson's idea or Jon Brion's to use that song written in 1980 for another movie,. but whoever it was, it was a stroke of genius to use.
My good friend and mentor, Van Dyke Parks, did the orchestrations for "He Needs Me."