Crossroads Soundtrack

Crossroads Soundtrack


Vocal Song Tracks

Crossroads featured the following songs:

Willie Brown
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Instrumental Score

Primary Composer(s): Ry Cooder

Crossroads featured the following pieces of instrumental music:

Click/tap highlighted track names for full Soundtrack release info.
Composers are linked if they worked on other featured movies.


Neoclassical ahoy! Terrific slide guitar and blues score from Ry Cooder whilst Steve Vai provides all the technical wizardry. Beware though, the dazzling Vai guitar solo pieces, including the crowning finale piece 'Eugene's Trick Bag' are not included on the soundtrack release.

Steve Vai has added in his new solo album (Elusive Light and Sound 1) the entire guitar duel, plus some extra music that was never released. He says that he couldn't release the duel beacuse the Film company had the rights, but now he finally could. [Thanks to William]

The classical piece used at the beginning of "Crossroads" is "Turkish March" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, arranged for guitar and Performed by William Kanengiser. This is also not on the soundtrack CD but is available on his "Rondo alla Turka" CD. [Thanks to Bill Kanengiser himself for the correction]

The classical music that he plays to win the head cutting contest (in which the devil's choice fumbles the notes) is actually Paganini's 5th Caprice. [Thanks to Ray Johnson]Update Us

Score Trivia

Thanks to Doug S
The reason they used Paganini at the end of the movie is because many of the same rumors about Robert Johnson (selling his soul, being an unusually succesful ladies man etc.) were also said of Paganini. Therefore, Eugene winning the battle with that piece is sort of "beating the devil with his own music." It's a bit obscure if you aren't a musician but clever nonetheless.
Cast/Crew Our eternal thanks to Arlen Roth
OK, without delay, lets get straight into the legend. Since the movie's release there has been much speculation and mis-information on the final guitar duel. Legendary guitarist Arlen Roth (no relation to David) was hired to coach Ralph on convincing guitar fakery. We were thrilled and thought we'd finally got the real deal when Arlen himself originally wrote us here at the Rewind with the following inside track on the story, but as you'll see, not everyone was impressed - or convinced. Update- 7/31/2006 Arlen answers the critics! Read on below for yet more depth to the legend...

"I worked on the music for Crossroads from day one. First of all, I wrote and played all of Macchio's parts right from the beginning, including teaching him 4 days a week, for 2 months even before we started filming. Almost all of his parts were played by me, and improvised on the spot, because I knew the "vocabulary" I had given him on the guitar, and what he could "fake" accurately.

I directed the guitar scenes, and the original "duel" at the end was musically different. It was a slide guitar duel between myself and Ry Cooder (made much more sense than this heavy metal nonsense!), it was real blues! Cooder was also supposed to play the evil part on screen. When he found out he'd been dropped by Walter Hill, he really got pissed off! So, in walked Vai, and then we re-recorded the ending. They actively pursued him, it wasn't some receptionist's "find".

We were all dead-set against this musical destruction of the film, but Walter Hill and Tim Zinneman had no idea what they were doing about music. That's why Walter let me sit in the Director's chair when the guitar scenes were shot!

The blues band and bar scene were actual re-creations of what I did in real life while we were on location in Mississippi! Ralph saw me do that, and said he wanted to do that in the film! He also chose "Landslide", an original piece from my first Rounder album as the piece he plays when standing at the "Crossroads!"

The end sequence actually features the playing of Vai (sped up sometimes) Bill Kanengiser (classical) Ry Cooder and me. Cooder only plays two parts for Ralph in the movie. The rest is all me, and the classical is played by Kanengiser (who has also made 2 instructional videos for my company, Hot Licks Video!)

After coaching Ralph and directing the guitar scenes for Crossroads, I was approached by Oliver Stone to do the same for "The Doors" movie. I turned it down though, the money was lousy, and Frank Whaley didn't want to bother with learning the guitar for his part of playing Robbie Krieger!
Thanks to Gary Cox
However, Gary Cox wrote to say: I have absolutely no doubt that the Arlen Roth letter is completely fake. I've personally spoken to Ry Cooder and Steve Vai about this and what is said here is provable falacy. Standing at the crossroads, Ralph does not play an Arlen Roth song. It's Vigilante Man performed by Ry Cooder. There was a different ending recorded, but not with Arlen Roth, it was with Shuggy Otis, and is available in the Steve Vai boxed set. Yes, Arlen Roth coached Ralph, but didn't write or perform any music for the film. He was only the guitar teacher. Ry Cooder was never the evil guitarist, and Vai was wanted right from the start. There was no conspiracy. Vai and Ry Cooder are very happy with each other.
Thanks to Bryan Smith
Further info comes from Bryan Smith: I listened to a radio interview with Steve Vai, when he was asked who it was that played the classical parts for Ralph Macchio, he said it was him. He wrote that whole piece (called "Eugene's Trick Bag") which Steve Vai is credited with writing and owns the copyright to. In fact, Steve Vai released a compilation CD that includes the guitar duel from beginning to end. Another important fact is that there were guitar duels that were cut from the film. Ralph Maccio's character was supposed to come in to the bar as Vai's character was 'head cuttin' with someone else. The piece can be found on the same CD that Vai released. I believe Arlen Roth may have been a bit presumptous in his statement about Vai. Just my two cents, but the reviewer stated that he felt the philosophy of the movie was lost when they used the classical piece as the winning 'trick' to win against Vai's character. I have to completely disagree with him in this assessment. The beginning of the film, Macchio's character is playing the piece on an acustic guitar, and then goes into a blues riff. Your reviewer forgot to mention that 'Jack Butler' was the one who deviated from the blues stuff and began to try to 'run' all over Macchio's character. I thought it was fitting to use the classical piece to win because it was a testament to the fact that you don't need anything but talent, skill, and practice to play, whereas 'Butler' sold his soul to achieve his, thereby not being able to follow 'lightnin' boy'. Anyway, just thought I would clear that up for you and add my thoughts.
Thanks to Arlen Roth
But, our thanks to Arlen who returns to the debate!.. Well, Arlen Roth here again, and everyone gets it wrong about this film. I'm the ONLY one who was there from the start, and knows EXACTLY what went down. I played almost ALL the scenes in the film on electric and acoustic guitar, and the original ending, (which I have on tape) was Ry and I having a slide duel. The original script had nothing to do with all this Heavy Metal junk that was added to the ending. The Shuggie Otis scene was shot and was what you saw taking place just BEFORE Ralph walked in... They cut it, because they didn't want to portray a white man beating a black man. Felt bad for Shuggie, it would've really helped his career. The ending contained alot of classical guitar played by Bill Kanengiser on electric guitar, and in many cases, sped up. The piece he plays at the Crossroads is from my first album, and it's called " Landslide". Cooder overdubbed parts of it artfully to sound like "Vigilante Man"(when the camera was off Ralph's hands) a WOODIE GUTHRIE song, so he could try to deflect a lawsuit I was about to lay on Columbia for stealing my music and breaching my contract, which by the way, they never even signed, so they never gave me the credits I was supposed to get! Vai fans... Steve backs this up in his Guitar World interview about Crossroads. If you folks wanna know more, go to my website. Cheers, AR
Thanks to Mike Zempter
I also hated the classical music used for the final duel, but I stayed after to watch the credits, to find out who the devil's guitarist was. I figured he must be a real hotshot, probably a studio session man, to get that role. I saw it was Steve Vai, whose work I never liked, but then I saw 'Steve Vai instructed by Mr.Joe Satriani of Berkeley, California.' Satriani in my opinion is the greatest rock guitarist of all time, a real summary figure. I'd like to add, if you hunt up any of Satriani's music, please consider listening to 'The Headless Horseman' on the CD "Not of this Earth" and 'Lords of Karma' on "Surfin' with the alien" CD. This latter has the most complex, masterful rock guitar solo (not classical) I have ever heard. the speed puts even 'Eruption' by Van Halen to flight.
Thanks to Mike Emmerson
The legend, as reported in an interview in a guitar magazine, stated that Steve Vai was originally only supposed to do the soundtrack. The part of Jack Butler had already been cast. When Vai showed up at the studio to meet with the producers, the receptionist took one look at him, ran out of the room and brought the executive producer and director with her. They all looked at him and said "Yes... he's perfect". They then asked him if he would be interested in actually playing the part on screen. The rest is history... The reality, according to Arlen Roth is that the producers "Actively Pursued him". Shame. The legend is much more interesting!
Rewind Archive
In truth, it would be almost impossible to pull off the final classical/rock performance on the guitar that Macchio plays (A Fender Telecaster set up for slide playing).
Thanks to Dominic Maher
In addition to the guitar solo played by Macchio being nearly impossible to be played on a Fender Telecaster, the last note of the performance would actually be impossible to play on any ONE guitar without the use of effects... it has been multi-tracked and the effect is of many guitars playing at once... listen carefully!

'Perk' kindly wrote in with one last thing to add about that 'last note' of Eugene's Trick Bag: it is actually impossible to play on ANY guitar, unless setup with a super-thin high E string. Even then, bending to hit that note at the 24th fret still takes you into 'string breakage' territory. If you really want to hear what that note 'really' sounds like, though, just listen to Jack Butler try to hit it when he tries to replicate Eugene... that unpleasant note he plays over and over is exactly what that note really sounds like, right before the inevitable happens: the string breaks. I'm not sure if they tracked that for the movie, but just some added trivia. Try it yourself! ...unless Vai recorded it with a 26 fret guitar, who knows :)
Thanks to David
Tommy Johnson also wrote 'Canned Heat' (he liked Sterno). He was not related to Robert but both had worked on the same plantation (along w/ Charlie Patton another great old time bluesman). This may have been the Dickerson Plantation located of course in the Miss. delta. Tommy left 18 recordings, Patton close to 60. all of them great bluesmen. R&R, hardrock, acid, you name it.

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1986 Columbia Pictures
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