Life Moves Pretty Fast: John Hughes R.I.P.

Ferris_Buellers_Day_Off_037The_Breakfast_Club_273Sixteen_Candles_134John Hughes died of a heart attack today while on a morning walk in Manhattan. He was 59. As someone who grew up in the ”80s, his films are pretty much ingrained in my teenage memories. I’ve seen Sixteen Candles more times than any other film (probably upwards of 100), and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off isn’t far behind that. He directed less than you may remember  — though he wrote the scripts for Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful, they were both helmed by journeyman Howard Deutch — and hadn’t been behind the camera since 1991’s forgettable Curly Sue., After mega-success writing Beethoven and Home Alone, he mainly scripted a lot of shmaltzy kid movies (dare I even bring up Baby’s Day Out?) when not working as a script doctor. And the last ten years, he’s been mainly known as a recluse. (Sound familiar?)

But Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (and Planes, Trains & Automobiles) are among the most quotable movies of the ’80s. 
As much as the lines of dialogue remain in my repertoire, John Hughes movies shaped my musical taste. Not just the soundtracks. I remember tracking down Cabaret Voltaire because Ferris had a poster of them in his room, and similarly I bought Easterhouse’s Contenders after seeing a poster for it in Eric Stoltz’s room in Some Kind of Wonderful.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off soundtrack struck a chord partly because they never released a soundtrack for it — though they were originally going to. If you watch the credits of the film, it says “Soundtrack available from Hughes Music/MCA.” I can’t tell you how many times I went to the mall record store in the summer and fall of 1986 asking about the soundtrack. I finally gave up and decided I’d compile my own. Songs like “Twist and Shout” and “Danke Shoen,” or even Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s “Love Missile F1-11” and Yello’s “Oh Yeah” weren’t to hard to track down, but the but bulk of music used was on the rare side. “March of the Swivelheads,” the instrumental version of the English Beat’s “Rotating Head,” was only ever released as the b-side to the “Too Nice to Talk To” 12.” Similarly, the Dream Academy’s vocal version of “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” was findable, but no so much the instrumental version used in the film. And then there was The Flowerpot Men’s “Beat City” and Blue Room’s “I’m Afraid,” which were recorded specifically for the film and were only ever released as opposite sides of a 7″ distributed solely to members of the John Hughes fan club. I was not a member.

Blueroom Any time I went into a record store, I would seek these out, and I found almost all of them but those Flowerpot Men and Blue Room songs eluded me. I think the Flowerpot Men’s (not the ’60s group of the same name) only official release was a Peel Session, and Blue Room’s only other released song was on the
Pretty in Pink soundtrack. But then in 1999, Napster happened and I thought “hmm, maybe I can find them there” and 20 seconds later my 13-year quest to complete the Ferris Bueller soundtrack was done. At the time I thought, “now what?”

I always figured Rhino or Shout Factory would do a soundtrack I always meant to do a post on this, and certainly now seems like the time. I’ve since acquired that John Hughes Fanclub 7″ (thanks, Erich!) but have never found a real copy of the Dream Academy “Please Please Please” instrumental. But I did get an mp3, so here are all the “rare” songs from Ferris Bueller OST. You can dig up the Beatles, Yello and Wayne Newton on your own.

MP3: The Flowerpot Men – Beat City

MP3: Blue Room – I’m Afraid

MP3: The Dream Academy – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (Instrumental)

MP3: General Public – Taking the Day Off

MP3: The (English) Beat – March of the Swivelheads

And a Sixteen Candles bonus MP3: The Thompson Twins – If You Were Here 

We’ll miss you, John. If there’s a heaven, I bet it looks like Shermer, Illinois.



  1. "As much as the lines of dialog remain in my repertoire, John Hughes movies shaped my musical taste. Not just the soundtracks."
    TOTALLY. I can't be more articulate than that, especially since I am very sleep-deprived, but I feel the same way. For me, I went bananas with the Pretty in Pink soundtrack. And even though there was a soundtrack, there were so many songs in the film that didn't appear on the album. For instance, I remember searching for cassettes by The Rave Ups because they weren't included on the soundtrack.
    Man, I love Beat City. Such a good track.

  2. I remember you trying to track down those tracks back in the day! Ironically, I thought of your search for the FBDO sound track when I saw the obit on Yahoo. Sad to see an 80's icon pass.

  3. I love you, Bill. Thanks to you I FINALLY have this Dream Academy cover of one of my favorite Smiths songs. Sad that it comes at the passing of this fine man.

  4. '… if you don't stop and look around once in a while you might miss it.'
    So awesome! thanks for this Bill

  5. Can you do the same for Sixteen Candles too please? A proper soundtrack was never released either, just a "sampler" on cassette.

  6. They released the Sixteen Candles soundtrack on vinyl too, I own it. But yeah, only six songs I think.
    It's difficult because there's the film soundtrack, and then the re-done soundtrack for the VHS/DVD which had some good songs too. But maybe this will be a weekend project.

  7. Love this. I can't help but think how it would feel to have your cheese left out in the wind.

  8. Been looking for that Flowerpot Men song since I saw Ferris Bueller in the theatre, thanks! and the instrumental version of Please Please… by Dream Academy is on the 12" of the vocal version. There is one up now on ebay for auction and it seems the dealer is having a hard time finding bidders…

  9. "Beat City" was one of those songs I looked for like crazy, then just sort of forgot about it. I was only reminded when I'd come across Ferris on tv (which ironically is every time Ive stayed home sick). Awesome post, Awesome songs.

  10. I bought Stephen Tin Tin Duffy after seeing the poster on Watts' wall in "Some Kind of Wonderful."

  11. So cool of you to post these … before he died, i looked around forever to find these songs … to no avail. Thank you, thank you for posting them.

  12. I am a lover of fast food, for a question of time and work much consumption of such foods, and this has led me health problems, so I had to measure myself to it, but really it is delicious.
    Norma D. Baxter
    1582 Sugar Camp Road
    Owatonna, MN 55 060

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