​​Ghost World: A film and its eclectic soundtrack
Film and TV

​​Ghost World: A film and its eclectic soundtrack

Ghost World is a masterful exploration of youth and disenchantment that hits all the right notes.

With the 90s making a ferocious comeback, now is the perfect time to revisit one of the most iconic films of the era. Set in the 1990s, Ghost World offers a nostalgic look back at the music, fashion, and culture of past cynicism, and grunge.

With its quirky and offbeat tone, Ghost World provides a unique perspective on the challenges of growing up and facing the realities of the world, making it a perfect fit for the 90s-themed event hitting Hartford, Connecticut, this March.

ghost world

Ghost World actor Thora Birch, known best for her roles in the 90’s classics Hocus Pocus and American Beauty, will be appearing at this year’s 90s Con, alongside some of the biggest 90s actors and musicians of the era. Think Shannon Doherty from Charmed (which has quite possibly has the best theme song ever, Love Spit Love’s cover version of How Soon Is Now? by The Smiths), Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys, and the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

ghost world

Ghost World follows the story of Enid (played by Thora Birch) and Rebecca (played by Scarlett Johansson) and is a poignant and often humorous portrayal of the intricacies of friendship, love, and self-discovery.

Through the lens of its relatable characters, memorable soundtrack, and sharp writing, “Ghost World” is an astute commentary on the music of the day and is both hilarious and on-point, with director Terry Zwigoff showing a deep appreciation for both the absurdity of mainstream pop and the timeless beauty of early blues.

Zwigoff had to navigate the challenge of selecting music that would accurately convey his intended message to the audience. He found that his musical preferences were so far out of touch with mainstream tastes that it was difficult to find songs that would fit the film’s deadpan tone.

Zwigoff wanted the music in the film to be contrived commercial pop music to amplify the feelings of alienation and cynicism he wanted to create. Using popular music from the past was too expensive, and modern pop music was too self-parodying to parody effectively.

He had an easier time selecting music for Seymour’s character – played to perfection by Steve Buscemi – as his taste was based on Zwigoff’s own collection of 78s. However, Zwigoff was careful not to select music that would be associated with Woody Allen, who had a reputation for using old jazz in his films.

After trying many of his favourite 78s, he found it was satisfying when they worked, though the results were not always predictable. Zwigoff was particularly thrilled to use the music of Skip James, whom he considered the greatest blues musician of all time. Zwigoff was drawn to James’ music because it suited the character of Seymour and the tone of the film.

Despite wanting to use music from King Oliver and Tiny Parham for years, Zwigoff couldn’t afford it for Ghost World due to the film’s small music budget. Instead, Zwigoff turned to lesser-known musicians, who were more affordable and whose music still fit the film’s tone. In the end, Zwigoff found that music selection was a process of trial and error, and he was pleased with the final result.

Listen below:

Stay tuned to socials for dates and further announcements for 90s Con 2023. For tickets and additional information, visit here.

Ghost World is a graphic novel by Daniel Clowes. It was serialized in issues #11–18 of Clowes’s comic book series Eightball, and was published in book form in 1997 by Fantagraphics Books. It was a commercial and critical success and developed into a cult classic.

These notes are taken from the liner notes for the Ghost World soundtrack.