Friday, September 24, 2004

I can't believe I gave my panties to a geek.

Seemingly like all [okay, maybe not the Amish] women of my generation [and Kevin Smith], I once had an unhealthily obsessive relationship with the movies of Illinois' own John Hughes. I saw myself in all the freaky female protagonists and longed for the day when my handsome, popular prince charming would lure me out of my black nail polish and tattered clothes and lead me to the promised land of open-mouthed kisses and makeup the color of things actually found in nature. And guess what, my pretties? That shit doesn't happen. The wiry geek with headgear doesn't get to fuck the prom queen. The dreamy wrestler never makes out with the bi-polar liar with dandruff. It's all a sham. And, despite all these inexplicably doe-eyed Gen Xers who in retrospect still give Hughes icon status, ultimately Hughes' little fantasies were no more significant to me than all millions of cheesy Cinderella stories out there today. Well, except for the fact that I know the dialogue of every Hughes flick by heart. (Seriously, Hollywood, I don't care about presidents' daughters and how tough it is for them to find romance, so just stop!)

But there's one thing about John Hughes movies I still appreciate: the music. That's not to say that all of the music he used was good, by any means, but at least it was different from the pop machine utilized in other movies of the era, most of which were stuffed full of Kenny Loggins, Carly Simon and Bob Seger. And, as connoisseurs of Hughes' soundtracks well know, he and his minions loved the covers.

Some Kind of Wonderful:
SKOW is, ostensibly, my lingering favorite of Hughes' films, if only because it's far more realistic for two outcast friends to eventually hook up when one's nonsensical dreams of dating the popular gal fail. And that "practice" kiss scene between Eric Stoltz and Mary Stuart Masterson still makes the 12-year-old inside me completely melt.

  • March Violets "Miss Amanda Jones" (Rolling Stones cover)
    Ah, the energy that's building when this song plays. Amanda is getting ready for her date with Keith, which she really has no desire to attend. She's flicking her hair around under her dryer and Keith's dad is riding him about college, which he no longer has the savings for because he spent all of his damned money trying to impress this dopey, spineless sycophant Lea Thompson expertly plays.

    I was not previously familiar with The March Violets when this movie came out, nor am I quite down with them now. The quick Internet research I performed a minute ago leads me to believe that many people consider them a goth band, but having only heard this cover, I have a difficult time believing that since this sounds only slightly darker than Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine." But whatever. It is what it is.

  • Lick the Tins "Can't Help Falling in Love" (Elvis Presley cover)
    I think I have to credit this cover with introducing me to how distinctly different a cover can sound from its original and, thus, spurring me on to investigate other cover songs. This quirky, dancey little Celtic folk version of Elvis' ubiquitous ballad always made me picture Leprechauns dancing around a May pole on a glenn somewhere. Or maybe I was just having "Safety Dance"-video flashbacks.

    Ferris Bueller's Day Off:
    When I was in the 8th grade, I took a weekend painting class at the Art Institute of Chicago. One day, the instructor didn't show up and I wound up wandering around the museum (past some of the same paintings Ferris & Co. pondered in the film) trying to find my mom and my friends who'd come up with me that day. After doing the Museum thing, we headed off to do the shopping thing. But as we neared State Street, there was unexpectedly a mass of people milling about. It looked as if there were a parade, but nothing was moving. We asked a random passerby what was going on and, lo and behold, we were told, "They're shooting a new Matthew Broderick movie." Of course, we promptly joined the crowd and wound up spending the day as unpaid extras in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and at one point found ourselves toward the front of the faux float about a foot away from Broderick as he lip-synched "Twist and Shout" about a hundred times. Eventually, we wound up toward the back of the float, and, of course, are not seen at all in the movie, but it was a cool experience.

  • Dream Academy "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get what I Want (Instrumental)" (Smiths cover)
    Hughes apparently really liked this song, as versions of it wound up in both of his 1986 films. The original was in Pretty in Pink, which Hughes wrote but didn't direct and this pretty instrumental cover was in the aforementioned Art Institute scene of FBDO and was pretty and perfect.

    Pretty in Pink:
    Yes, I related to Andie in PIP. Yes, I thought she should've gone with Duckie instead of Blaine. Yes, I liked this movie at the time. Yes, I still watch it from time to time when I catch it on cable.

    Now for the "but": But its message sucks. Sure, Andie doesn't change who she is to get Blaine to fall for her, but the coolest character in the damned movie, Iona [Annie Potts], has to become a fucking yuppie in order to find love. And what about Blaine is so appealing? Yeah, Andrew McCarthy's kinda cute in that dopey, dough-faced way, but the Blaine character in no way deserves Andie. In the version of this movie that exists in my mind, the movie doesn't end with Andie and Blaine kissing in the parking lot. It my version, it ends about a month later when they break up because they have absolutely nothing in common. Then Andie dates Duckie a while until he comes out of the closet. Then she goes away to college and has her heart broken a million more times by people she actually had real connections with. You know, like guys in bands.

    Yes, I'm bitter. No need to point this out to me, I already know.

    But, again, the chosen music was pretty good for the most part. Indeed, it introduced me to New Order and, therefore, Joy Division. Ditto Echo and the Bunnymen. So, there's merit there. (And others agree, as the PIP soundtrack has at least two cover tributes, see here and here.) I remember reading an interview with Hughes and Ringwald before the release of the movie in which they discussed how none of the music in the film was an afterthought. They also discussed Hughes' decision to use Ringwald's favorite band, The Rave-Ups, in the club scenes. Curiously, however, those tracks were not offered on the soundtrack, which always kinda pissed me off.

  • Danny Hutton Hitters "Wouldn't It Be Good?" (Nik Kershaw cover)
    This cover always seemed pointless to me. I was aware of the Nik Kershaw version only because, after seeing its video the first time on Friday Night Videos at my friend Sherie's house in Bloomington, Sherie promptly ridiculed me for never having heard it. I guess what's big in Southern Indiana isn't always what's big in major cities. Go figure. And, Sherie's ridicule aside, I didn't get what the big deal about it was. I found it to be mediocre pop snoozefest on par with John Waite's "Missing You," which I likewise hated despite its obviously ironic lyrics.

    Anyhow, this version isn't much more exciting than the original except, I guess, that it's performed by the band of a former Three Dog Night singer. If that's the sort of thing you find exciting.

    Next time: I'll post covers of some of the original songs from Hughes soundtracks.
  • 1 comment:

    amy said...

    I swear to GOD I remember Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want by the Smiths in the part where Duckie is sitting in front of that graffiti wall and/or tossing cards in the hat. I've thought that for YEARS. I just rewatched it and they didn't even PLAY the song as far as I could hear, unless it was in Andie's car.

    Am I crazy?