The Best Music From Fallout


We’re in the final stretch, guys. Fallout 4 will arrive in just three days. The hype train is barreling full steam ahead, and I don’t mind feeling caught up. The last two games in the series are easily the most played in my adult life. Also, have you seen that launch trailer?

The above screenshot is from my last play through of Fallout: New Vegas. My character is a hard-nosed woman named Scotch, who often travels with a flying eyebot and a cowgirl who chugs whiskey. I’ve got 234 hours logged, according to Steam, and I’d be happy to double that if there weren’t so many other great games to play.

I’m avoiding replaying the old games in this final stretch, but not in an effort to cultivate a fresher experience. Instead, I’m trying to finish Witcher 3 in a last-ditch weekend effort. This game is easily the best open world I’ve experienced since the last Fallout game, a universe more rich with storytelling than any game before it. Sure, the world is massive and full of things to do, but it’s the sharp writing and rich sense of narrative that makes this game special. If you’re a literary type who enjoys games, often lamenting their shortcomings in this area, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I mention this game only to show how high the stakes are. Bethesda could release the same old game in a new setting and it would be fun, but 8 years since their last developed Fallout game, the world has changed. A handful of games have shown that even chaotic, open ended structures can yield moments of beauty, insight, and wonder. I remember how wrapped up I got with Fallout 3 and New Vegas and think, they’re going to nail this. I have high hopes that the sequel to the only other open world I’ve been totally drawn into will deliver on the storytelling front.

Because I was ridiculous and ordered that Pip-Boy edition, I’m even looking forward to wearing an actual, no-shit Pip-Boy on my wrist one single time before probably putting it on display at the office. If any coworkers are reading this, consider it fair warning for your inevitable eye rolling.

I felt like indulging in a bit of nostalgia today, listening to some of my favorite songs from the last two games. I’ve got to seriously credit the former for getting me into Billie Holiday, now one of my favorite vocalists of all time. I always enjoyed hearing her, to be sure, but I never understood the stark beauty of her music until hearing it in that game. Billie’s heartbreaking laments soundtracked my often aimless wandering through a desolate, bombed out wasteland, the most striking juxtaposition of music and visuals I’d ever known in a video game.

The seven following songs are my very favorites from Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas:

Roy Brown – Butcher Pete

“He’s choppin’ up all the womens’ meat!” This one always painted a weird smile on my face. Is it just a metaphor for a guy who’s a ladykiller or is this really a jaunty pop tune about chopping up women all over town? I picture the shocked reaction to a song like this playing on the radio today and I like it.

Billie Holiday – Crazy He Calls Me

Billie is a goddess and proves it with one song. It’s not even close to my favorite tune of hers at this point (I’m more a fan of her final release, Lady Day) but it remains a steadfast reminder of the first moment I realized I was about to become a huge fan.

Danny Kaye with the Andrews Sisters – Civilization

This one is cartoonish, silly, and calling it culturally insensitive would be a massive understatement, but hot damn is it catchy and fun.

The Ink Spots – I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire

This is the song that introduce the world to Fallout‘s resurrection. The Ink Spots have a very specific template, and they follow it rigidly, but nobody does stately swing like this. It’s simply a gorgeous, understated love song that defines timeless.

Marty Robbins – Big Iron

This is real-deal cowboy music. It’s not country; it’s straight up guns and spurs balladry, and it’s addictive. I find myself singing along, and of course, I know the story of The Stranger and Texas Red. It’s perfect for the western atmosphere of Fallout: New Vegas.

Eddy Arnold – It’s A Sin

Just listen to the lyrics. This is one of the saddest songs of all time, I shit you not. This tune opens the depths of regret in such a catchy sounding way; you’re gutted before you know it.

Peggy Lee – Johnny Guitar

This is it, my favorite song from the Fallout series. This is an eruption of timeless, aching beauty. I used this song on a mixtape with modern artists like Slowdive and Björk, if that says anything to you.

I probably missed an important song or two. What are your favorites from the series? Am I missing out on music from the first two games? I played the original Fallout but it’s been so long, I don’t remember the soundtrack.

The wait for Fallout 4 has been a relatively painless one, since it was announced just this past summer. I wish more companies would do that, and spare us the years-long cycle of hype and disappointment. I know some friends are exploring the capital wasteland and the Mojave right now, but I’ve got some Witchering stuff to do.

3 thoughts on “The Best Music From Fallout

  1. This is awesome. The 3D Fallouts made really good use of periodic music in building their unique atmosphere. The 2D Fallouts had a pretty interesting ambient score as well. I can’t stop thinking about FO4 now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wasn’t sure if the old games had licensed songs or not, but I didn’t remember any regardless. You’re spot on though, the music truly helped build that atmosphere almost as much as the visuals themselves.

      On a related note, I can’t stop thinking about FO4 now either, but my pip-boy edition shipment was delayed! So I’m doing the next best thing, listening to some new music.


  2. Pingback: Oneohtrix Point Never “Ezra” | Optimistic Underground

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