There is something special about fighting
for your life against post-apocalyptic bandits while Dean Martin croons “Ain’t That a
Kick in the Head” that sets the Fallout games apart from other franchises. Even though
the games are set in the far-off future, the series always goes out of its way to create
a universe that is essentially a nightmarish version of the 1950s’ that never ends. The
songs heard in the wasteland sets this tone perfectly, and it’s clear that the developers
paid close attention to the music of the era, paying homage to these classic artists throughout
the series. Lets start with the obvious. Most fans will
probably know that Fallout New Vegas’ Mr. New Vegas is voiced by singer and entertainer
Wayne Newton. This is, of course, a reference to Newton’s well-known status as Mister
Las Vegas in the real world. A title he gained by being a popular attraction for decades,
and by performing an estimated 30,000 shows in the city. Mr. New Vegas actually references
Newton’s music at one point. “This is Mr. New Vegas, and I hope I’m not
comin’ on too strong” This is a nod to Wayne Newton’s 1965 hit song “Comin’ On Too
Strong”. That’s not the only hidden musical reference
that Mr. New Vegas makes though, he also quotes the leader of the Elvis-inspired gang The
Kings, saying ‘The King, voiced his displeasure, calling NCR citizens, quote, ‘the devil in
disguise.’ He added he didn’t want to see any NCR in the ghetto, and called for a mass,
quote, ‘return to sender’”. While that may sound odd to your average gamer, it was
actually a reference the Elvis Presley songs “Devil in Disguise”, “In the Ghetto”
and “Return to Sender” respectively. Sticking to New Vegas, many players will probably
recognize the game’s group of entertainers, the Rad Pack Revue, as a reference to the
Rat Pack, which included Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., as well as a few
other guys that no one really cares about. Speaking of Frank Sinatra, not only is his
cover of the song “Blue Moon” featured in the debut trailer for New Vegas, but he
also has a number of quests named after his many hit songs, including “Ring-a-Ding-Ding”,
“Come Fly With Me” and “My Kind of Town”. So while both Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra’s
work make appearances in the game, it is Sammy Davis Jr. who has a fairly major character
based off him: Tommy Torini. Not only were both popular singers and the only African-American
in their groups, they were also both missing an eye. Sammy Davis Jr. lost his in an car
accident and, like Tommy Torini, wore an eyepatch while performing. After awhile though, Davis
decided to permanently switch out the patch for a glass eye. Fallout 3 contains some of the best musical references thanks to Vault 92, which was specifically
designed to preserve musical and artistic talent after the bombs fell. The vault is
located just outside of Old Olney, many fans believe this to be a deliberate reference
to James Hubert Blake High School, which is located in that area Olney, Maryland in the
real world. The school specializes in art and is named after the influential Jazz artist,
Eubie Blake. While inside Vault 92, you may come across
a terminal mentioning a past resident of the vault named Gordie Summers, this is a very
subtle reference to Gordon Summers, whose name you may not recognize at first. That’s
because he went on to be better known as Sting, lead singer of the ‘80s band The Police,
as well as a popular solo artist in his own right. If you’re still not familiar with
him, you’re probably at least familiar with The Police’s best-known song, “Every Breath
You Take,” the lyrics to which are astoundingly creepy.
That’s not the only reference hidden in the vault. The character Zoe Hammerstein,
a young classical musician whose slow descent into madness are chronicled in her terminal
entries, is actually named after Oscar Hammerstein the second, a Broadway lyricist and and songwriter
who won eight Tony awards but is now best known for his work on the classic musical,
The Sound of Music. Hammerstein must have a been popular with the Bethesda development
team because that’s not the only place his influence is felt in the game: the Tex Beneke
song “A Wonderful Guy”, that plays on Galaxy News Radio, was co-written by Hammerstein
in 1949. As the Overseer of Vault 92, Richard Rubin
was the de facto leader of all the musicians left after bombs fell. It is probably no coincidence
then that he shares his name with Rick Rubin, a major music mogul and producer who has worked
with tons of big names, including Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, ZZ Top, Lady Gaga, Lana Del Ray
and Kanye West, as well as being the founder of Def Jam Recordings, a label that helped
hip-hop become mainstream. I don’t know if anyone could claim to be the master of
the musical world, but Rick Rubin definitely comes close. You thought you knew Fallout, but hopefully you’ve learned just a thing or two more.
Do you know of any other historical or literary references we didn’t cover here? Share them
in the comment section below and we might include it in a future episode. If you like
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