Music and movies have long existed for me on tracks that are often parallel and at times intersect, as each pushed off the other in new directions.

This year has seemed especially strong for the intersection of movies and music. By which I don’t mean musical scores, though, indeed, there have been many fine ones, but instead songs used in movies, whether deeply familiar or brand new. All year long songs jumped from theater loudspeakers straight to the emotional core of audiences.

What follows is in no way intended as a “best of” consideration of 2015’s movie music. Rather, it is something of a wayward map, following the trail as a song from one movie leads to another, creating unexpected connections, resonances and layers. The movies provide a framework for musical discoveries.

But first a confession: I first saw Jim Jarmusch’s “Mystery Train” because the Clash’s Joe Strummer was in it. And I recently picked up the first Heart album because of a song used in “The Diary of a Teenage Girl.”

When I first began to write about movies, I decided to hold onto music for myself, to allow my fan’s passion and intuitive curiosity to remain as unclouded by other concerns as possible. I would become a professional movie writer, but I would remain an armchair music fan. The music remained mine.

Early in “Straight Outta Compton,” director F. Gary Gray’s telling of the rise of the Los Angeles rap group N.W.A, a teenage boy lies on his bedroom floor, album sleeves scattered under his head like a halo. With headphones on, he is lost in the world of the music swirling in his mind, and his fingers move along the air to the piercing keyboard lines heard in the Roy Ayers Ubiquity track “Everybody Loves the Sunshine.” That young man would go on to be the group’s musical mastermind Dr. Dre, and many of those albums, by Ayers, James Brown, Parliament and more, would be the foundation of the sounds he would create.

The moment captures the personal, interior nature of music, the way in which it can bypass the mind to speak directly to an inner spirit. Moments later in the film, another young man, group member Ice Cube, is passed on the street by a cluster of motorcycles. They move in slow motion, with a power and poetry underlined by the music on the soundtrack, one of the new tracks by Dr. Dre included in the film.

That imagery of motorcycles in slow motion would return again later in the year during a pivotal moment in the movie “Creed,” writer-director Ryan Coogler’s reinvention of the world of Rocky Balboa in which the unknown son of Rocky’s rival-turned-friend Apollo Creed strives to make a name for himself. In a masterful reclamation of the training montage that had gone from powerful to parody across the Rocky sequels, Coogler shows young Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) running the streets of Philadelphia as local bikers rev and pop all around him and a collaboration by composer Ludwig Göransson and rapper Meek Mill pounds from the soundtrack. It is one of the boldest, most transcendent moments in any film this year, something familiar transformed into something fresh.

“Magic Mike XXL” also uses music to signal a return. In the movie, the character played by Channing Tatum has left stripping behind to focus on his business making custom furniture. He is alone in his workshop when the song “Pony” by Ginuwine comes on the radio. It had been the song for his signature dance number in the original “Magic Mike,” and here its slinky groove becomes his siren song, calling to him. He first moves lightly in rhythm to the song, giving his work on a metal grinder some extra oomph, before he fully commits to dancing all about the room, bounding off stools, making moves on a table and getting nasty with a drill. It is thrilling stuff, highlighting the deep emotional connection to the music for both the character and for audiences too.

The heady sci-fi film “Ex Machina” mines comedic lightness and a harrowing bit of character detail from a specific song selection. In a scene in the middle of the film, a tech nerd played by Domhnall Gleeson is becoming suspicious of Oscar Isaac’s tech mogul’s motives for summoning him to a remote estate. The swirling, silky R&B of Oliver Cheatham’s 1983 hit “Get Down Saturday Night” begins to play, and Isaac, drunk on beer and ego, announces, “I’m gonna tear up the … dance floor, dude, check it out” and proceeds to do just that.

No 2015 clip reel would be complete without some of Isaac’s synchronized moves alongside actress and dancer Sonoya Mizuno. The scene is thrilling and fun but also unnerving and a bit freaky. And that was even before audiences were fully aware of the actors’ roles in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” in which Isaac plays hero Poe Dameron and Gleeson the villainous General Hux. But here music is a force all its own.

Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young” features Adam Driver as a young man driven by his ambitions at any cost, a role that from another post-“Star Wars” perspective might be seen as “Kylo Ren: The Early Years.” Baumbach’s movie opens with on-screen text from Henrik Ibsen’s 19th-century play “The Master Builder,” in which two characters express concern over whether to open the door for the arrival of the next generation.

The story that follows engages those same themes played out in modern day, as a fortysomething played by Ben Stiller is befuddled by changing times, technology and ways of thinking, and struggles to remain emotionally open. The film’s closing credits include Paul McCartney’s buoyant 1976 tune “Let ‘Em In” with its positive exhortation in the lyrics that answers Ibsen’s question whether to open the door.

The film also makes use of songs by Lionel Richie and Foreigner, which might have once seemed corny but here are heard as cool hangout tunes. To get suitably pumped-up before a meeting, Driver plays Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” – itself famously used in “Rocky III” – and Stiller’s character notes, “I remember when this song was just considered bad.”

That sense of reclamation through the unexpected union of music and images reaches across to television as well. One of the strangest, most beautiful moments in the ill-fated second season of “True Detective” is a dream sequence in which troubled cop Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) envisions himself in a bar where a pompadoured singer mimes to Conway Twitty’s 1983 version of the Bette Midler hit “The Rose.” Curiously, the image of the singer in a blue spangled suit is taken from the cover art to a different Twitty album, 1975’s “The High Priest of Country Music.”

There are many other key songs and emotional moments from the year, such as Brian Eno’s “The Big Ship” being heard in both “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” and “The End of the Tour,” or the college-town melancholy of early R.E.M. tracks also used in “Tour.” Daft Punk songs are laced throughout “Eden,” and a Chi-Lites tune is put to uproarious use in “Chi-Raq.”

Like a door that once opened never closes, once a song enters your life it often tends to stay there. Not long after “Compton” came out, I picked up a copy of the Roy Ayers Ubiquity LP with the track featured in the movie. Not long after that I was driving down La Brea Avenue one afternoon and I heard the distinctive song outside my car. I rolled down my window to figure out where it was coming from and realized it was emanating from a customized vintage car just behind me at a stop light.

In a flash it all came together, the song, the movie, this moment. I absent-mindedly gave the car an awkward thumbs-up of recognition as it rolled past me. Because I knew the song I felt an unexpected sense of connection, and I knew the song because it had been in a movie.