The Walk of Life Project hinges on a simple, pure, and extremely goofy question: what would happen if you laid Dire Straits' 1985 hit "Walk of Life" over a handful of iconic final sequences from the last half-century of movies and TV? I know it's the brainchild of Peter Salomone, a film nerd and ostensible fan of hyper-popular '80s pop-rock, and I don't want to know much more. If there's an inciting incident or a complicated backstory, I don't want to hear about it. I want to pretend this idea bubbled up out of the earth, immaculate and ready for deployment.
Salomone contends that "Walk of Life" is "the perfect song to end any movie," and he tests that hypothesis by laying it over 50-plus classic endings. Bill Murray whispers in Scarlett Johansson's ear and leaves Tokyo behind, riding off into the sunset on Mark Knopfler's wistful synth-organ melody; the titular Friends decide to grab one last coffee at Central Perk while Knopfler sings about some dude busking in the subway. "Walk of Life" closes out comedies and dramas, sci-fi odysseys and character studies, happy moments and sad ones. It works with Inception just as well as it works with The Lion King.
Why does this work so well?
Why? Why does it slot so seamlessly into movies that've already earned a place in the cinematic canon with their unaltered endings? I know I begged for blissful ignorance above, but I'll offer up a few potential explanations anyway. "Walk of Life" was a huge hit, and it was part of an album that sold tens of millions of copies around the world. You might not know the words or the details, but you've heard the song. It's almost universally familiar. It's not really about anything, so its subject matter isn't going to distract you. It's widely applicable and totally benign. Did something (anything) happen to a character? That's just the walk of life! What isn't?
The melody is malleable enough to fit into any context: it can sound happy, sad, suggestive, hopeful, or funny, depending on the context. It changes to fit the shape of the movie it's augmenting. And now that I've spent a bunch of time listening to it over all of these movie endings, I'm almost scared to visit my local theater this weekend. My next five movies are going to be haunted by that organ.