"The music acts like a Greek chorus to comment on the events taking place." Walter Murch

American Graffiti is one of the first films to use music almost exclusively from records. Initially Mr. Lucas selected almost 80 popular "era" songs from his personal collection, but the $80,000 budget could only afford 41 licenses, so many songs were scrubbed including Elvis Presley's. He used music to create a realistic, documentary feel, whereas in most films, music is used to build drama.

Sound artist Walter Murch re-recorded all of the songs to create the reality of the situation. Speakers were placed between buildings, on streets, in the gym, etc., so that, for example, music coming from a passing car actually sounded so.

When Laurie and Steve begin the snowball dance at the Freshman Hop dancing to Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, the music enhances the viewer's perception of the emotional situation between the two of them. Acoustically, it begins with a big gymnasium feel. Then, as the scene focuses on their intimacy, it is compressed to sound more like what people would hear inside of their heads.

The music (Barbara Ann) reaches its most ethereal crescendo in the scene where, after Curt is kicked out of Bobbie's car, he runs up the street in an attempt to catch the white T-bird and ends up standing alone in an intersection (Western and Kentucky Streets in front of what is now Couches Etc., Petaluma).

Rock Around the Clock --- Bill Haley & the Comets
Sixteen Candles --- The Crests
Runaway --- Del Shannon
Why Do Fools Fall in Love --- Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers
That'll be the DayBuddy Holly
Fanny MaeBuster Brown
At the HopFlash Cadillac & the Continental Kids
She's So FineFlash Cadillac & the Continental Kids
The StrollThe Diamonds
See You in SeptemberThe Tempos
Surfin' SafariThe Beach Boys
He's the Great ImposterThe Fleetwoods
Almost GrownChuck Berry
Smoke Gets in Your EyesThe Platters
Little Darlin'The Diamonds
Peppermint TwistJoey Dee & the Starlighters
Barbara AnnThe Regents
Book of LoveThe Monotones
Maybe BabyBuddy Holly
Ya YaLee Dorsey
The Great PretenderThe Platters
Ain't That a ShameFats Domino
Johnny B. GoodeChuck Berry
I Only Have Eyes for YouThe Flamingos
Get a JobThe Silhouettes
To the AisleThe Five Satins
Do You Wanna DanceBobby Freeman
Party DollBuddy Knox
Come Go with MeThe Del-Vikings
You're Sixteen, You're BeautifulJohnny Burnette
Love Potion No. 9The Clovers
Since I Don't Have YouThe Skyliners
Chantilly LaceThe Big Bopper
Teen AngelMark Dinning
Crying in the ChapelSonny Till & the Orioles
A Thousand Miles AwayThe Heartbeats
Heart and SoulThe Cleftones
Green OnionsBooker T. & the M.G.'s
Only You (and You Alone)The Platters
Goodnight, Well It's Time to GoThe Spaniels
All Summer LongThe Beach Boys