Friday, June 4, 2010

Inspiring Soundtrack ~ DIRTY DANCING (1987)

You didn't live in the 1980's if you weren't absolutely obsessed with Dirty Dancing and it's amazing soundtrack. I must have rented this film at least 100x when I was a kid. At just 5 years old, I was completely infatuated with Dirty Dancing and all it's outstanding music. I must say that for a film which takes place in 1963, it surely feels like an anthem for children of the 80's.

My mother was a professional dancer when she was younger. Naturally this film appealed to her and she immediately went to see it when it came out into theaters. Who else would she take along but her little partner in crime, me! Being I was so young, she must have wondered whether I could appreciate the film as much as she would. Not only did I completely fall head over heels in love with
Dirty Dancing, the soundtrack instantly became my most favorite at the time, one that I couldn't stop listening and singing to for years on end.

The film mixes songs from the late 50's to early 60's, along with original music. It's soundtrack was so unbelievably successful that a volume 2 came out a year later which featured songs missing on the first album. You can bet that I owned both. However, all the main original hits we have come to cherish from
Dirty Dancing are on the first soundtrack:

1. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" (Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes)
2. "Be My Baby" (The Ronettes)
3. "She's Like the Wind" (Patrick Swayze)
4. "Hungry Eyes" (Eric Carmen)
5. "Stay" (Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs)
6. "Yes" (Merry Clayton)
7. "You Don't Own Me" (The Blow Monkeys)
8. "Hey! Baby" (Bruce Channel)
9. "Overload" (Alfie Zappacosta)
10. "Love Is Strange" (Mickey & Sylvia)
11. "Where Are You Tonight?" (Tom Johnston)
12. "In the Still of the Night" (The Five Satins)

The volume 2 features the rest of the oldies played throughout the film along with some instrumentals:

1. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" (instrumental) (The John Morris Orchestra)
2. "Big Girls Don't Cry" (The Four Seasons)
3. "Merengue" (Michael Lloyd & Le Disc)
4. "Some Kind of Wonderful" (The Drifters)
5. "Johnny's Mambo" (Michael Lloyd & Le Disc)
6. "Do You Love Me" (The Contours)
7. "Love Man" (Otis Redding)
8. "Wipe Out" (The Surfaris)
9. "These Arms of Mine" (Redding)
10. "De Todo un Poco" (Michael Lloyd & Le Disc)
11. "Cry to Me" (Solomon Burke)
12. "Trot the Fox" (Michael Lloyd & Le Disc)
13. "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (The Shirelles)
14. "Kellerman's Anthem" (The Emile Bergsteign Chorale)
15. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" (instrumental) (The John Morris Orchestra)

I'm listening to the music right now as I write this blog entry and it is making me extremely nostalgic! You know you have a perfect soundtrack when you can listen to the songs 23 years after it was released and be taken straight back into the film as if you just watched it yesterday. It also takes me back and reminds me of the feeling of being 5 years old again in 1987.

Before I truly begin the entry though, I want to say thank you to the two Music Supervisors who worked on
Dirty Dancing, Danny Goldberg and Michael Lloyd. They both were able to incorporate the music to the scenes so profoundly. Starting with the bright hot pink opening credits, black and white slow motion scenes of couples dancing with direct dirtiness, which we would later come to watch in normal speed, set to "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes. It was a flawless way to open the film. It showed the audience a taste of what they can expect, along with "Be My Baby" playing loudly, which I am sure was done intentionally on behalf of the main female character's name. I'm very big into lyrics of songs in films making sense to the storyline, or at least making as much sense as possible, and I notice things like that. "Be my little baby..." Great choice!

What makes the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing so unique, was the fact that even though it took place in 1963 and it had numerous 60's tunes playing throughout, the film was filled with current original new songs. There were six tracks total which were first released in the 1980's. They include, "Where Are You Tonight", "Hungry Eyes", "Overload", "Yes", "She's Like The Wind", and last but certainly not least, "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life".

All of the music in
Dirty Dancing is nothing short of amazing, but of course there are the tunes that I was always very partial to since I was a child. It is difficult to pick and choose which songs to write about in detail from such a remarkable soundtrack, but here are the songs that really brought the visuals to life and always stood out to me...

(In order of placement in film)

"Hungry Eyes" ~

First of all, I love film montages which show progression and time passing. Especially when they are done right with an immaculate song playing over the visuals. A great montage is every Music Supervisor's dream, or at least I think it is, because it gives the chance for us to truly let a song shine for a decent length without dialogue. Just pure images and music. Dirty Dancing's usage of "Hungry Eyes" during it's montage was perfect. It flowed with the visuals, it matched the beats of the dancing and the lyrics were right on the money. This was a pivotal moment in the film where the viewer feels that there could be a budding romance between Baby and Johnny and with lyrics like "I feel the magic between you and I", it just worked without fault. The end of the montage with Baby laughing and Johnny becoming frustrated was actually genuine between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze (may he rest in peace). The director liked the authenticity so much between them, he decided to keep these cuts in the film. Thank god he did because it made "Hungry Eyes" and the montage even more superior.

I remember listening to this song on the soundtrack all the time and loving how it had a rock edge. I knew it differed greatly from the other tracks in
Dirty Dancing, as it was tougher and much more rugged. The song wasn't really one that you got up and danced along with, but I knew at only 5 years old that rock spoke to me. When you hear this song today, it's definitely on the softer side for rock standards, but against all the other music in Dirty Dancing, it was heavy. The song was placed during the scene when Johnny and Baby walk outside to his car in the pouring rain after having a small fight. They come to find that Johnny's keys are locked inside and so he pulls a short pole from the ground and breaks the back window of his car. Baby screams out from the front passenger seat to Johnny, "You're Wild!" while breaking out in laughter. It's a great scene and "Overload" had that perfect amount of edginess to it that showed Johnny as your classic bad boy.

Begins at 1:26

"Cry To Me" ~

Oh my god, the love scene in
Dirty Dancing where "Cry To Me" played, is without a doubt one of theee most steamiest scenes I've ever seen on film. With absolutely no sex or nudity shown and very few kisses, this sensual moment is hot hot hot! It just goes to show that sometimes less is more when it comes to sexiness. I truly cannot think of a better song that could have been used here besides "Cry To Me". With lyrics that include "Don't you feel like crying? Well here I am my honey, Oh, come on you cry to me", this 1962 hit sung by Solomon Burke, brings out the heated passion between Baby and Johnny and the chemistry between them is titillating. Through seductive dancing and the alluring "Cry To Me" erupting out of the record player, this scene is pure fire! I wonder what my mom thought of her 5 year old watching it :)

"Love Is Strange" ~

This scene where Johnny and Baby lip sync the lyrics to the 1957 Mickey and Sylvia song, "Love Is Strange", is probably one of the most well known from Dirty Dancing and is a definite favorite for many. It's been reported that Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey were simply messing around with one another before filming of the actual takes took place. The director thought it worked so well that he kept it as the real scene.

I feel there are better songs in Dirty Dancing than "Love Is Strange", but with the way this track was executed on screen, one cannot help but take a liking to it. If the story is indeed true that the actors were just being themselves and acting playful, then that would highly explain the magic that the scene possessed. It felt like these two people were so comfortable together and were able to just relax and have fun. Baby crawling toward Johnny on the ground lip syncing " Baaaaby, ohhhhh baaaaby, my sweet baby, you're the one" is a monumental movie moment at it's finest. By the way, I'm beginning to wonder if all the songs in the film that have "Baby" in the lyrics was done intentionally...maybe?

This song was used twice in
Dirty Dancing. First time when Baby's sister, Lisa, walks over to her boyfriend Robbie's room, only to open the door and find him sleeping with one of the older women staying at the resort. It is then played again during the closing credits, which begin similar to the opening with the slow motion black and white dancing clips. "Yes" wasn't placed over any remarkably visual scenes, but the song is fast paced, fun, and energetic which clearly make it easily enjoyable after all these years. I always loved getting up and dancing to this song. There is just something about the beats and lyrics that make me beam. Speaking of the lyrics, I just have to give it up again for the Music Supervisors of Dirty Dancing. "Yes" has lyrics which include:

Yes, we're gonna fall in love
And it feels so right
Yes, we're gonna make love
Gonna be tonightI can just imagine
Hugging and teasing and
Loving and squeezing all night

I've made up my mind
That he's gonna be mine
I'm so glad I waited, whoa, oh

Why did I tryTo figure out why
Everything can't be anticipated
I can't wait to tell him

Lisa explains to Baby her plan of going all the way with Robbie and that he "doesn't even know yet". These lyrics are perfection when it comes to the Lisa/Robbie storyline and was an ideal choice of song for that scene. Kudos to the Music Supervisors, Danny and Michael.

Music only:

"She's Like The Wind" ~

This song was always one of my most favorites from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. I guess I'm just a sucker for a good power ballad. Embarrassingly though, it wasn't until a few years after it was released did I come to realize that Patrick Swayze was singing the lead vocals. Swayze actually co-wrote the song originally for another film he starred in in 1984, but it went unused and was eventually chosen for Dirty Dancing.

To this very day, I still hear "She's Like The Wind" on the radio quite a bit. I think the emotional impact that this song evokes is what gives it leverage and also by the way it was used in the film. Any Dirty Dancing fan will immediately be drawn back into the emotions between the two lead characters during the "goodbye" scene, which clearly screamed out poignant sentiments. The music evoked so much passion and was a perfect appetizer to the main course of what came next...

"(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" ~

Years before David Cook sang about the time of his life following his season 7 win on American Idol, Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes sang about theirs in the most beloved song from Dirty Dancing, "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life". To say this track was popular would actually be an understatement. It was massive! The song went onto win the 1988 Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Song, as well as a Grammy that same year.

Utilizing "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" for the final dance sequence between Baby and Johnny, completely summed up the entire film and made the ending very special. The song was so appealing, so satisfying, so beyond perfect. Besides the actual melody and incredible choreography that went along with it all, the lyrics were utterly precise. Watching Baby and Johnny's final dance with no dialogue and just hearing the words to the music, was electrifying. These two characters did indeed have the time of their life together that summer and they certainly did owe it to each other. It may sound cheesy, but it really relays to what the film is actually all about. Two people who come from entirely different backgrounds, fall in love. It's a classic romance about forbidden love, but with a small twist of falling hard through the power of music and dance. They both needed one another to feel complete and "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" conveys that to the viewers. It's heartwarming to see the positive progression of two characters and how everything comes full circle. The ending of Dirty Dancing and "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" always put a smile on my face and made me get up and start to dance. Hey, what girl didn't want to wear a flowing dress and twirl their little heart out just like Baby? Perfect conclusion to a wonderful film.


What I honestly love about Dirty Dancing, besides all the dry humping on the dance floor haha, was that it truly is a musical in all it's right, but not a silly musical where people break out into singing and dancing at the drop of the hat. It's a film that uses it's quintessential soundtrack to transform Baby from a goody-two shoes teenager, into a full out strong woman. Baby was a great heroine. Fearless, unashamed and feisty. Because of her, Johnny was able to find the courage to demand the creative control he so longed for in dance and in his life. The positive message that Dirty Dancing gives has always struck a chord with me and it's no wonder I watched the film as many times as I have in my 28 years. I guess one can say to never underestimate the power of what music can do for your well being.


SONGS THAT INCLUDE "BABY" IN THE LYRICS ~ I'm sticking by the idea that this was done intentionally even though most love songs do include that word :)

Bolded songs MAJORLY include "Baby".

"Be My Baby"
"Where Are You Tonight"
"Do You Love Me"
"Love Man"
"Hey! Baby"
"These Arms Of Mine"
"Cry To Me"
"Love Is Strange"
"You Don't Own Me"
"(I've Had) The Time Of My Life"

R.I.P. Patrick Swayze
1952- 2009

1 comment:

  1. I really admire Jennifer Grey's tribute to Patrick Swayze. She's doing Dancing with the Stars for him, class.