The 1 Song In Reservoir Dogs That Quentin Tarantino Couldn’t Live Without

The cast of Reservoir Dogs in suits and sunglasses

Quentin Tarantino is known to have brilliant soundtracks for his movies, and there was one song in Reservoir Dogs that he was determined to include.

Quentin Tarantino’s movies have become known for their flawless use of music, and there was one song in Reservoir Dogs that he just couldn’t do without. Tarantino made his feature directorial debut with the 1992 crime movie, followed by a number of stellar works that took his talents to the pinnacle of filmmaking. Among his most memorable cinematic moments are such perfectly soundtracked scenes as the dance contest in Pulp Fiction and, of course, Shoshanna’s preparations to burn down the theater in Inglourious Basterds.


Kicking off that tradition from the start, Reservoir Dogs also has some incredible music moments. The bloody, dialogue-heavy feature follows a heist crew thrown together to carry out a robbery, which doesn’t go according to plan due to one of the members being an undercover cop. Starring Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, and Michael Madsen, the movie exudes Tarantino’s now-recognizable stylized vision. That includes its use of music, and it’s partly thanks to one song in particular that he desperately wanted for the movie and which has become greatly associated with Reservoir Dogs.

Related: The Reservoir Dogs Remake You Probably Don’t Know About

Why Tarantino Needed “Stuck In The Middle With You”

Mr Blonde tortures a cop in Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Tarantino was set on having “Stuck in the Middle with You” by Stealers Wheel in Reservoir Dogs. One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is set to the tune and depicts Mr. Blonde (Madsen) torturing another character — so graphically that it even caused Wes Craven to walk out of the movie. Tarantino told those auditioning for the Mr. Blonde role, as they read for that particular scene, they could set their performance to the Stealers Wheel song or something else of their choosing (via Rolling Stone). Most chose the former, and from the first audition, Tarantino knew that that was the song it had to be.

Reservoir Dogs’ Entire Music Budget Went To The Song

Close up of Quentin Tarantino's profile in Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Tarantino was so set on using “Stuck in the Middle with You” that he spent his entire music budget to license the one song (via the BBC). When Tarantino approached EMI for permission to feature the track in Reservoir Dogs, music publishing exec Pat Lucas asked how much his music budget was. He told her: $13,000. She told him that was the song’s cost. It was a small amount considering what can be charged for a single song, yet paying it was a risk, as there would be nothing left for any other music.

How Reservoir Dogs Paid For The Rest Of Its Music

Cafe scene in Reservoir Dogs

One of Michael Madsen’s best Tarantino characters, Mr. Blonde became immortalized through his torture scene, which was enhanced by “Stuck in the Middle with You.” But after that song was acquired, the question of how the rest of Reservoir Dogs music would be paid for arose. Tarantino realized if he could persuade a company to release a soundtrack album, he could take the money from its advance and pay for more songs that way. It all came together in the end, with Tarantino securing the Stealers Wheel track and a plethora of other songs, including “Little Green Bag” by George Baker Selection, which iconically plays over the suave opening walk.

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