John 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.
The 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.
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
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.