Great Uses of Songs in Movies: The Big Chill, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” the Rolling Stones

Sometimes in films like The Big Chill the best way to say goodbye is to say it with something familiar like You Can’t Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones. It’s more than the fact that this song is so  great, it’s that it’s one of the most perfect ways to say goodbye to an old friend, not to mention that it’s something that carries a great deal of feeling that can’t be denied. It also carries a very definite message that can be applied to life in many different ways. The more you want, the more you strive for, and unfortunately the more that you get, the more you figure out that you don’t really need.

We enter this world in a number of different ways, and while we all follow the same star we all get there by different means. What happens between the beginning and the final ending however is so varied that it people can’t be expected to be as predictable and as capable of recognizing this universal truth until that final day comes. Once that moment hits we all seem to sit back finally and discover that all we’ve worked for and all we’ve amassed is really nothing when weighed against the idea that we’ve had what we needed all along. That might seem a little vague and far-reaching but in truth it’s about as close to the truth as it can be. We’re born with what we need to survive, and as we go through life we’re either given what’s needed to continue that course or we discover what we need in order to keep moving throughout each day until we reach the terminus of where our life could continue or finally end.

What we need vs. what we want is a constant struggle of all human beings no matter if we get it or if we don’t. It’s the nature of all humans to want something, no matter if it’s that next breath of air or the answer to a question that we just can’t solve on our own. In the movie the people that come together for their friend’s funeral have no idea what they want, though they have an idea. The trick however is that while they know what they want at that given moment they have no idea what it is they need in order to get it. What they need is companionship in the face of loss, and while they have it, they don’t always seem to recognize it. The passing of a dear friend is a tragedy that tends to pull people together and make many people realize what they still have and what’s really important in their lives. In short it reminds them of what they need, which might not be what they want.

The death of someone that means a great deal to a number of people tends to make many people evaluate their lives and just what they’ve done and what they have. Once they come to realize what it is that’s important they tend to also discover that you can’t always get what you want, but you tend to find that you have everything you need.

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