He’s great, obviously. And she’s great. And “you can always come in my back door” will never fail to make me laugh, because some jokes are evergreen. But once you get the song, you get it; the concept is never expanded upon.
That doesn’t make this a bad song, mind you. There are no bad songs in Walk Hard, only bad people watching it who don’t appreciate the genius of John C. Reilly, who is a friendly goblin prince temporarily taking refuge in human form.
“Let Me Hold You Little Man”
The closest thing this movie has to a weak link. I get it! Faux-sixties activism! It just…well, it feels like a song Will Ferrell would sing. John C. Reilly can do better.
“Take My Hand”
Reilly is always at his best when he goes for MAXIMUM NAIF, and that’s what sells this song to me. His voice is gentler, plaintive almost. It’s very soothing.
“You’ve Got To Love Your Negro Man”
It’s such a deft, brutal reference. Craig Robinson’s reaction shots in particular deserve their own spot on the list.
Whatever The Name Of The Brian Wilson’s “Smile” Sequence Ended Up Being
It’s not a song that actually ends up being performed, but the snippets we get to hear are good enough to make it onto the list.
Disco Version of “Billy Don’t Be A Hero”
I can’t even remember what the original version of this song sounds like. Frankly, I don’t want to.
It has been DASTARDLY removed from YouTube, so here’s the next best thing: Dewey Cox’s lounge-y version of “Starman.”
I Don’t Know The Name Of This One
Everyone has a Bob Dylan impression, but that doesn’t make this one any less sublime.
This, to me, felt like a look into the movie’s secret heart — it’s not jokey at all, and that belies the actual love Walk Hard bears for everything it mocks. It barely makes it into the theatrical version, but it’s also legitimately catchy.
“There’s A Change Happening (I Can Feel It)”
This feels like it could have actually been on the soundtrack of The Wonder Years. “The sixties are an exciting and turbulent time, Darlene. There’s something happening here. What it is, ain’t exactly…obvious.”
As a parody, this is spot-on. As a song, it’s very nearly as good as “Sister Golden Hair.” It makes me feel like walking near an abandoned train trestle and feeling sorry for myself.
“A Life Without You (Is No Life At All)”
Oh God, there is nothing like this song. Nothing. That big, schmaltzy, over-the-top devotional 1950s-era ballad is my absolute favorite, and Reilly absolutely nails it. That little side-to-side shuffle-dance. The haunting backup trio that just keeps sing-mumbling “oh my darling, oh my darling, yeah, yeah, yeah.” The BIG FINISH. I put it towards the end of my playlist at the gym and I swear to God it’s helped my deadlift.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, more perfect than this twangy version of “That’s Amore.” The extended harmony on “amore”! The way he sings “that IS amore” instead of “that’s amore”! The little hand motions he does to indicate the sound of a bell ringing!
This is a song strong enough to build a movie around. Remember how good the song “That Thing You Do” was in That Thing You Do? Practically every song in Walk Hard is that good. He nails the generic tough-guy sound — life’s hard, keep walking, mountains and bad guys, never stop — in his gravelliest Cash voice.
“Guilty As Charged”
Oh God. Oh, God in heaven. The outfits. The trumpets. The sunglasses — Reilly’s hips — the spoken introduction — THIS SONG IS BETTER THAN “RING OF FIRE.” THERE. I SAID IT. IT’S TRUE.
“Beautiful Ride” is the only song written expressly for the emotional climax of a musical that has ever done anything for me. I was stone-faced during Glen Campbell’s farewell tour, but I cannot make it through “Beautiful Ride” without weeping in gratitude for the mere fact of existence.
And then, and then — the list of things he has to be grateful for:
Sharing the good times
Traveling not just for business
Accepting your mortality
It’s so transcendently funny, specific, and true that I lose it, every time.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.