People might like the meager, monotonous soundtrack of Death Stranding, but it’s tragic that Hideo Kojima didn’t dig a little deeper.
Rebuilding America The Right Way
If Hideo Kojima was any kind of real artist he would have dumped the hipster Low Roar crap and the mumbling teenager music and replaced it with some real American classics. After all, if you’re going to rebuild America, why not start with some music that makes you fall in love with the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Let’s get right into it. For each song I’ll explain why it’s a fitting choice.
Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn – Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man
Aside from being a perfect song in every way, this classic American song tells the story of two lovers separated by geography, including a giant river that we never see in Death Stranding. Without having actual states and recognizable terrain, what happens to a song like this? It turns out that every part of America has a rich culture filled with stories, songs, and memories that could inspire even a boring emo like Sam Porter Bridges to wake up and face the day like a real American man, not a moody brat dragging his feet and afraid to touch people. Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn know how to touch people, and it’s with their music.
Willie Nelson – On The Road Again
On the road again. Going places I’ve never been. Seeing things I may never see again. Willie Nelson understood that America is a land of mystery and discovery, eternally fascinating and transforming. That’s why he says “I can’t wait to get on the road again” instead of complaining and needing to be tricked by a guy with a skull mask and a hologram to go out and connect with people. Maybe if Kojima knew anything about America he would include this song and let players go out and enjoy that road less traveled without a big sob story to weigh it down.
Metallica – Turn The Page
Continuing on the same powerful theme, this immaculate rock ballad from Metallica captures the other side of Sam’s journey: the tragic loneliness of the wandering man. It does this entirely without degrading into a tiresome lullaby the way Silent Poets and the other kids featured on the Death Stranding soundtrack do. It also has key clever lines like the one about how people are always staring and asking, “Is it woman, is it man?” I won’t spoil why that’s relevant, but people who’ve played the game will know what I mean. :)
Holly Dunn – Daddy’s Hands
A lesser-known but timeless gem of a song that perfectly fits with the themes and story of Death Stranding, Daddy’s Hands is a breathtaking recollection of a father told by a daughter who remembers his hands. Is there any game that more strongly emphasizes hands and fatherhood? As I sit here crying softly, I can’t figure out whether it’s from the emotional power of the lyrics, or the fact that Hideo Kojima has no clue about how to convey messages and metaphors in his overcomplicated trainwreck of a plot. “Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was crying.” If that’s not a perfect theme for BB and how we take care of it when it’s upset, I don’t know what is.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Road Trippin’
Fully loaded we got snacks and supplies. It’s time to leave this town, it’s time to steal away. Let’s go get lost in a town in the USA. Sam is always fully loaded with supplies, and the desire to go get lost is exactly what players feel when they see the big vistas on the horizon. Sadly the game’s geographical expanse is so tiny that there’s never a chance to really get lost. The song also mentions drinking the stars, which is something impossible for players because for some bizarre reason it’s never night time, so we never get to see the gorgeous night sky that the American open prairies are famous for. But it would still be a great addition.
Johnny Cash – I’ve Been Everywhere
Come on, you know you want to hear this in Death Stranding. Just listen to that golden voice and tap your feet to that rhythm. Sam Porter Bridges wishes he could hold a match to the Man In Black, who has truly been everywhere. He’s crossed desserts bare, man (which don’t exist in Death Stranding) and breathed the mountain air, man. He’s traveled every road in this here land, as he makes clear, and this is the example we should want to follow. Of course he doesn’t mention South Knot, Central Knot, West Knot, East Knot, North Knot, Northeast Knot, Southwest Knot, Lake Knot, High Knot, Low Knot, Inner Knot, and Outer Heaven Knot, because he’s talking about actual places with history and culture that have some value.
If you really want to have something more contemporary and youthful, how about In Hell I’ll Be in Good Company, by The Dead South? It’s still a perfect ramblin’ song, perfect for keeping one foot in front of the other, but it also includes lyrics about a dead wife and a message about being in good company when he’s dead. A message about being together in the afterlife is a great match.
Who built the road? Sam Porter Bridges, that’s who. But the song belongs to Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, who team up for this sultry duet about picking up the pieces of a disaster and moving on.
Oh, I hope we more than survive
With trembling visions that terrify
So who built the road, who turned it all around
Picked through the wreck, scrambled in the dust
We can always hope that Hideo Kojima reads this article and learns from his mistakes with the soundtrack. He should just put these songs into the game as DLC and inject a little soul into the mix. Or should I say, add some “Ka”? Ha ha.