Martin Scorsese Looks Back on ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ Scene in ‘Mean Streets’

He chose the song specifically for Robert De Niro’s character’s entrance.

Jackie Kolgraf
February 22, 2024

“I think it reflects, for me, who we were at that time — who we thought we were, maybe, growing up in that area,” Martin Scorsese told James Corden of the 1968 Rolling Stones song he chose for Mean Streets.

Scorsese is the latest guest on This Life of Mine with James Corden, a new interview show exclusive to SiriusXM where guests pick the music, possessions, memories, places, people, and more that made them who they are.

On previous episodes, Jeremy Renner shared never-before-heard details of his near-death snow plow accident, Odell Beckham Jr. looked back on the one-handed catch that changed his life, and Kim Kardashian read a letter her father wrote her when she was 13.

This Life of Mine with James Corden - Special Guest: Martin Scorsese; Stream the full episode on the SiriusXM app - Listen Now button

Martin Scorsese’s Defining Song: “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”

Scorsese chose the Rolling Stones song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” to share on This Life of Mine with James Corden — a song he used in his film Mean Streets (1973) starring Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro.

“I think it reflects, for me, who we were at that time — who we thought we were, maybe, growing up in that area. You see it in Mean Streets. The song’s there, but you feel that swaggering, to a certain extent,” Scorsese told James. “A sense of danger, a great use of language … It’s being knocked around in life and making you stronger. But the most incredible rock ‘n’ roll you can imagine. That’s a very important piece.”

“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” plays in the film when the audience is first introduced to De Niro’s character, Johnny Boy, as he enters a bar with a woman on each arm. Scorsese’s runner-up song choice was “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes, also featured on Mean Streets.

When James asked Scorsese if he knows what song he’s going to use before he even starts a film, Scorsese said yes. He even had “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos playing on set when they shot the pink Cadillac and garbage truck scene in Goodfellas (1990).

“So that’s a picture you’ve painted long before you’ve ever stepped on that set,” James said.

“It all comes from the music,” Scorsese confirmed, “whether it’s the rock music of that period, whether it’s British rock like [Eric] Clapton and Cream and Derek and the Dominos or Blind Faith, even.”

Killers of the Flower Moon — the 2023 epic western crime drama based on the book of the same name that Scorsese co-wrote, produced, and directed — is nominated for 10 awards at the upcoming 96th Oscars, including Music (Original Score) and Best Picture.

Martin Scorsese talks about growing up in New York City, having a child at 56, his wife’s enduring strength, the contents of his briefcase, and more in the latest episode of This Life of Mine with James Corden, now available to stream on the SiriusXM app. New episodes premiere Thursdays at 5pm ET exclusively on Stars (Ch. 109).