angel heart soundtrack

2009-03-09 , 12:42 am


Angel Heart is a 1987 myster/thriller directed by Alan Parker. The movie is based on a novel by William Hjortsberg, and stars Mickey Rourke (before his plastic surgery disaster), Robert De Niro, and Lisa Bonet. The movie is set in 1955 in Brooklyn and New Orleans.

The movie has lots of problems — especially if you like chickens – silly puns, clunky script, glowing yellow devil eyes; however, it has to rank in the top 10 for best use of music in a film. Unfortunately, identifying and acquiring the music that was used in the movie has been extremely difficult. The officially released soundtrack is incomplete; the credits at the end of the film contain multiple errors; and actually locating the 1930′s song that was used throughout the movie has taken forever. I believe I can now reconstruct the true soundtrack (or as close to it as we are going to be able to come):


Officially released soundtrack - There are several key songs missing from the movie – LaVern Baker’s “Soul on Fire”, Dr. John’s “Zu Zu Mamou”, and the original “Girl of my Dreams” song that provides the foundation for the Courtney Pine / Trevor Jones compositions. Additionally, the correct title for the Bessie Smith song is  “Honey Man Blues” not “Honeyman Blues”; the peformer of the “Right Key but the Wrong Keyhole” is Lillian Boutté.

Angel Heart Soundtrack – Trevor Jones – (complete album)

  1. (film score) Harry Angel
    Composed by Trevor Jones; Saxophone by Courtney Pine
  2. Honeyman Blues (correct title is Honey Man Blues)
    Performed by Bessie Smith
  3. (film score) Nightmare
    Composed by Trevor Jones; Saxophone by Courtney Pine
  4. Girl of my Dreams
    Composed by Sunny Clapp; Saxophone by Courtney Pine
  5. (film score) I Got This Thing About Chickens
    Composed by Trevor Jones;  Saxophone by Courtney Pine
  6. You’ve got the Right Key but the Wrong Keyhole
    Performed by Lillian Boutté
  7. Rainy Rainy Day
    Performed by Brownie McGhee
  8. (film score) Looking For Johnny
    Composed by Trevor Jones; Saxophone by Courtney Pine
  9. (film score) Bloodmare
    Composed by Trevor Jones; Saxophone by Courtney Pine
  10. (film score) Johnny Favourite
    Composed by Trevor Jones; Saxophone by Courtney Pine

Missing songs -these are the tunes that were either left off of the official soundtrack, or are full versions of songs that were clipped, or an earlier version of a song.

Note – This song took forever to find. It wasn’t until I discovered that the singer’s name was Kenny Sargent that I was able to finally locate it.

The actual song was written by Sunny Clapp in 1927, recorded by Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra featuring the vocal by Kenny Sargent. The vocal in the film is sped up from the original 78 rpm to 83 rpm to gain a higher, more warbling effect. (Wikipedia)

Note – Shirley Stoler was originally cast in the part of “Izzy’s Wife”, but was replaced by Judith Drake. Stoler’s voice can still be heard at the end of the scene, singing the song, “I Cried For You”.

  • John Lee Hooker – Sunny Land
  • LaVern Baker – Soul on Fire
  • Dr. John – Zu Zu Mamou
  • Corelli – Fenesta Che Lucive
  • Bessie Smith – Honey Man Blues (full song without movie clips)
  • Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee – Rainy Day (earlier version of song with Sonny Terry on harmonica)
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Basin Street Blues (I was unable to find the recording of Basin Street Blues that was used in the film. It’s possible that it was played live.)
  • Virginia Liston (with Clarence Williams’ Blue Five)  – You’ve Got the Right Key, But The Wrong Keyhole

    Note – very early version of the song that was performed by Lillian Boutte in the film.

  • Virginia Liston recorded 36 classic blues selections during 1923-1926.  “You’ve Got the Right Key, but the Wrong Keyhole” has Liston joined by Clarence Williams’ Blue Five, which at the time included cornetist Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet (on clarinet and soprano), and trombonist Charles Irvis. (Allmusic)

  • Chords – Sh-Boom


Angel Heart Soundtrack (redux) – this is the complete version of the soundtrack with all of the missing songs I could identify inserted.

ost – Angel Heart Redux – Trevor Jones – (complete album)

  1. kenny sargent with glen gray & the casa loma orchestra – girl of my dreams
  2. trevor jones & courtney pine – harry angel
  3. bessie smith – honey man blues
  4. trevor jones & courtney pine – nightmare
  5. kenny sargent with glen gray & the casa loma orchestra – i cried for you
  6. trevor jones & courtney pine – girl of my dreams
  7. corelli – fenesta che lucive
  8. trevor jones & courtney pine – ‘i got this thing about chickens’
  9. lillian boutte – the right key, but the wrong keyhole
  10. brownie mcghee – rainy, rainy day
  11. lavern baker – soul on fire
  12. dr. john – zu zu mamou (edit)
  13. trevor jones & courtney pine – looking for johnny
  14. john lee hooker – sunny land
  15. trevor jones & courtney pine – bloodmare
  16. trevor jones & courtney pine – johnny favorite
  17. bonus track — preservation hall jazz band – basin street blues
  18. bonus track — virginia liston – you’ve got the right key, but the wrong keyhole
  19. bonus track — chords – sh-boom
  20. bonus track — sonny terry & brownie mcghee – rainy day (edit)
  21. bonus track — bessie smith – honey man blues
  22. bonus track — guy lombardo – auld lang syne

Short Bio:

Lillian Boutté – Lillian sang “The Right Key, But the Wrong Keyhole” on the soundtrack, and she appeared in the film as well. She was named “New Orleans Musical Ambassador” in 1986. Lillian was discovered by Allen Toussaint while singing in a gospel choir during her musical studies at New Orleans’ Xavier University.

lillian boutte

Courtney Pine – Courtney was born 18 March 1964 in  London. He is an English jazz musician. He plays the saxophone for all of the film score tracks on the album.


Trevor Jones – South African orchestral film score composer.


Glen Gray – (June 7, 1900 – August 23, 1963) Leader of the Casa Loma Orchestra which recorded “Girl of my Dreams,” and “I Cried For You.”


Kenny Sargent – Kenny is the “crooner before the war”; he is the singer of both “Girl of my Dreams”, and “I Cried for You” that the movie revolves around. He was born in 1906 and died in 1969.  Sargent was the Casa Loma Orchestra’s primary vocalist, and also played the saxophone with the band. He left the orchestra band in 1943 to begin a career as a disc jockey. (Wikipedia)


Casa Loma Orchestra – In 1927, Glen Gray’s Orange Blossoms Band was renamed the Casa Loma Orchestra, after Casa Loma in Toronto, where the band played for eight months. (Wikipedia)

In the photo below, Glen Gray is in the center, and Kenny Sargent is to his right.


Brownie McGhee – (November 30, 1915February 16, 1996) was a folk-blues singer and guitarist, best known for his collaborations with the harmonica player Sonny Terry. Brownie McGhee was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee. As a child he suffered from polio, which incapacitated his leg. (Wikipedia)

sonny-terry and brownie mcghee

Virginia ListonAn obscure but talented classic blues singer, Virginia Liston recorded 36 selections during 1923-1926.  Although Liston did not have any hits, many of her recordings are memorable.  “Early in the Morning,” and “You’ve Got the Right Keyhole” have Liston joined by Clarence Williams’ Blue Five, which at the time included cornetist Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet (on clarinet and soprano), and trombonist Charles Irvis.virginia-liston

William Hjortsberg – author of the novel “Falling Angel” which the movie was based on.



Credits from the end of the movie – Glen Gray only has one “n”; the vocals on the 2 Glen Gray songs were provided by Kenny Sargent.

  • “Girl Of My Dreams”
    Performed by Glenn Gray and his Casa Loma Orchestra
    Courtesy of MCA Records
  • “I Cried For You”
    Music by Gus Arnheim and Abe Lyman
    Lyrics by Arthur Freed
    Performed by Glenn Gray and his Casa Loma Orchestra
    Courtesy of MCA Records
  • “Auld Lang Syne”
    Performed by Guy Lombardo and The Royal Canadians
  • “Honey Man Blues”
    Performed by Bessie Smith
  • “Soul On Fire”
    Performed by La Vern Baker
  • “Zu Zu Mamou”
    Performed by Dr. John
  • “Sh-Boom”
    Performed by The Chords
  • “Fenesta che lucive”
    Composed Vincenzo Bellini (uncredited)
    Performed by Franco Corelli
  • “Sunny Land”
    Performed by John Lee Hooker
  • “Rainy Rainy Day”
    By Brownie McGhee
  • “The Right Key, The Wrong Keyhole”
    By Clarence Williams and Eddie Green
    Performed by Lillian Boutté
  • “Basin Street Blues”
    By Spencer Williams
  • “Gospel Song”
    By Anthony Evans

Soundtrack detail on IMDB – the Bessie Smith song “Honey Man Blues” is incorrectly labeled “Honeymoon Blues”.

“Honeymoon Blues”
Performed by Bessie Smith

Trivia (from IMDB)

  • Harry direct dials a seven-digit phone number from a payphone. This wouldn’t have been possible in the 1950s.
  • The movie is set in January, 1955. When Angel goes to Sarah Dodd’s Harvest clinic, he has a pistol in his briefcase, a Smith & Wesson model 38 Bodyguard, which was not manufactured until 1957.
  • When Harry Angel makes his tape recording, he gives the date as 3 January 1955. Later he quotes from the television program, “The Mickey Mouse Club” (1955) which did not premiere until 3 October 1955.
  • Shirley Stoler was originally cast in the part of “Izzy’s Wife”, but was replaced by ‘Judith Drake (I)’. Stoler’s voice can still be heard at the end of the scene, singing the song, “I Cried For You”.
  • When Harry Angel visits Margaret Krusemark for the first time, Margaret orders her maid to bring them tea; she and the maid speak briefly in French, which Angel obviously doesn’t understand. The maid is asking “Should I bring out the best cups?” and Margaret responds “No.”
  • The poem about Evangeline and her lover that everyone refers to is “Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
  • Robert De Niro’s performance is an impersonation of Martin Scorsese.
  • The line “How terrible is wisdom when it brings no profit to the wise” is drawn from Sophocles’ Oedipus The King.
  • Johnny Favorite’s birth day is the same as director ‘Alan Parker”s (14 February).

Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie - by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:



This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers,–
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o’er the ocean
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pre.

Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,
Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman’s devotion,
List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest;
List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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