On Saturday, August 6, 2016, it will be the seventh anniversary of the passing the brilliant writer / producer / director / 80s film hero and a personal hero of mine, John Hughes. John was in NYC when he died of a heart attack at the far too young age of 59.
Many of John’s films are among the top of my all-time favorite movies list. One of those films is John’s biggest film of the 80s, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, from 1986. John Hughes was an amazingly talented producer and director, but I think it was his writing that I noticed most of all. John was an insanely gifted writer. It was rumored that he wrote 1984’s SIXTEEN CANDLES over a weekend, and it took him just a week to write FERRIS.
John Hughes moved to the Chicago area when he was 13, and he resided in The Windy City for a good portion of his life. Many of his films are set there, or in the surrounding areas, and as for the filming for FERRIS, John once said, “Chicago is what I am. A lot of FERRIS is sort of my love letter to the city. And the more people who get upset with the fact that I film there, the more I’ll make sure that’s exactly where I film. It’s funny – nobody ever says anything to Woody Allen about always filming in New York. America has this great reverence for New York. I look at it as this decaying horror pit. So let the people in Chicago enjoy FERRIS BUELLER.”
Well, many people in Chicago, and in New York, in America and the world did enjoy FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF. It ended up being the tenth highest-grossing film here in the U.S. for all of 1986 (fellow Paramount film TOP GUN was No. 1).
I know I’ve said this in the blog before, but John Hughes was the most influential person in music for me that I DIDN’T meet. In 1984, The Dream Academy, at the time a London Alt-Folk Pop band without a record deal, recorded two cover versions (one vocal and one instrumental) of a then-new song by the Manchester, England Alt-Rock band The Smiths – “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want.” Little did The Dream Academy know that within two years, the instrumental version of The Smiths song they covered would be cemented in film history, as it appeared in a pivotal and moving scene of a teen film at The Art Institute of Chicago.
In the film commentary John Hughes did for FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, he said that The Art Institute of Chicago was “a self-indulgent scene of mine – which was a place of refuge for me, I went there quite a bit, I loved it. I knew all the paintings, the building. This was a chance for me to go back into this building and show the paintings that were my favorite.” It’s also one of my all-time favorite scenes from any film.
After The Dream Academy’s self-titled debut album and singles had been released in 1985 and 1986, their cover(s) of “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” were released as a stand-alone single around the time FERRIS BUELLER was released into theaters, and released inbetween their debut album and their second album, 1987’s REMEMBRANCE DAYS. The single was even a minor hit in their U.K. homeland.
Over the past 20 years on my little 80s radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), there have been various tributes to John and the music from his films. On the Sunday following his passing in 2009, I vowed to dedicate a show every August as a tribute to John. On Sunday, August 7, 2016, it will be my eighth and last John Hughes tribute on STUCK IN THE 80s and WMPG. And in every year, every tribute show I’ve done for John, the instrumental version of The Dream Academy’s brilliant cover of “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” is always played.
Harkening back to the year 2000, when blank, recordable CDs were a new thing, and Napster was letting people share music before the plug was pulled, I knew a couple of friends that were on Napster, and they had the capability of recording CDs. Both versions of this song were on my list, but especially the instrumental version. This goes above and beyond the museum scene in FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF – it just moves me every time I hear it.
I was moved by the song when I saw FERRIS in the theater the first time in 1986, for the 30th anniversary in the theater this year, anytime I watch it at home, and it will move me again when I play it Sunday night. I was already enjoying the music of The Dream Academy by the time FERRIS was in theaters, but when I heard their “Please Please Please” cover, between that and “Life Is A Northern Town,” I was forever madly in love with The Dream Academy and their music. Lord knows it won’t be the first time I admit that.
Since there’s never been an official FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF soundtrack (John didn’t think people would be interested), there’s been talk of finally releasing one for the 30th anniversary of the film’s release. And it better the hell have this version on there, and maybe the other one too. It has been 30 years, after all, and the instrumental version has never seen a proper album release, and isn’t even on iTunes. So, I look forward to finally having an official copy in my collection.
In the meantime, for John, I miss you and I love you and am grateful for your films, your writing, producing, directing, introducing me to incredible music I prolly would never have learned about on my own. And, to borrow from a line in your own movie, you’re a righteous dude and then some. And, you were right – as I’m getting older, I realize more and more that life does move pretty fast. You’ll be happy to know I’m doing my best not to miss it. Take care and be good, wherever you are…