A Playlist for Dirty Harry’s Life
Source: Night Flight You don’t really get more iconic than Dirty Harry. Played by Clint Eastwood for five different films, Harold Francis Callahan is responsible for a new genre of “loose cannon” cop dramas, as well as some of the most recognised lines in cinematic history. Not only did he ask a criminal if he was feeling lucky (“well, do you punk?”) he dares another one to “make [his] day”. Harry is cynical and bitter with a heart of gold. He is frustrated with the San Francisco Police Department because they are inept and corrupt, but he still has respect for the fundamental ideas of law enforcement. When the five movies (Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact and The Dead Pool) were released in the 1970s and 1980s, this was the same attitude that many Americans had. Inspector Callahan was the perfect anti-hero for this environment. I’ve been trying to imagine what Harry might listen to, what songs would be on his personal playlist. I think 1970s punk really fits with his persona, along with jazz that is as smooth as his drawl. After a lot of pondering, I’ve come up with a list of tunes that I feel reflect who the character is, and that he would hopefully resonate with.
Dirty Harry Soundtrack by Lalo Schifrin
Schifrin later went on to compose the music for the Mission: Impossible franchise, but many would argue that he was at the height of his powers with this movie score. The mix of jazz, classical music and psychedelic rock perfectly evokes the gritty reality of being a cop in this era. I really think that it represents Harry as a person, and I’m pretty sure it is what he would listen to when he wanted to feel understood.
Boys Don’t Cry by The Cure
The punk sound suits the Inspector, and the sentiment fits with how he was probably raised. My sense of Callahan is that he is too jaded to cry now; no matter how bad things get. But he might have if he had been able to express his feelings at some earlier point, instead of having to “cover it all up with lies”. Let Ruby Fortune Casino make your day! Sign-up and receive your share of $750 in bonus cash and enjoy the newest online video slots games on the market. Checkout new releases like Book of Oz and let enchantment and adventure guide you to fantastic possibilities – only at Ruby Fortune.
Public Image by Public Image Limited
Johnny Rotten was disillusioned with The Establishment, and he let it be known on this furious track. The chaotic, energetic sounds are how I imagine the San Francisco Police Department was during Harry’s time. And he was no less pissed than Rotten about it.
You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry
Berry wrote the song while he was incarcerated in 1964, for his supposed contravention of the Mann Act. The jailhouse rock elements to the tune can’t help but be in the Inspector’s blood, and I think the theme would sit really well with him. After everything he has seen and been through, one thing he has probably learned is that, indeed, you never can tell.
Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
Considered one of the greatest songs in rock history, this powerful track has many layers and meanings. The band has never explained it, leaving it up to our own interpretations. For Dirty Harry, the progression from slow acoustics to electric instruments to hard rock shows a lamenting, an understanding and an anger, all connected to the police system that has let him down so much. What is this world we live in, when you can buy a stairway to heaven? And how is it done? Is it doing good things as publicly as possible, so that you will be considered worthy of making it into heaven? We don’t know, but there is both an understanding of dystopia and a feeling of hope in this song. And that, to me, is what Harold Francis Callahan is all about.