It's hard to argue any year other than 1939 as the best year for movies: Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Stagecoach, The Women, Ninotchka, The Rules of the Game - and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Fortunately, I'm not here to discuss that particular year.
I've talked before about who I'd want to play me in the movie of my life, but I never talked about what the story would be. Covering the entirety of it would make no sense; I'm not famous, nor have I done anything that has significantly changed the world (yet!). I would choose instead to spotlight one particular year and fashion a narrative out of that. There are several that would do, but the one I keep coming back to is 1986.
It's memorable for a variety of reasons. It's the year the Mets won the World Series, of course, and that was a defining moment in my childhood. It was also the year I entered high school, and that precipitated a number of changes in the way I thought about myself and the world around me.
|Okay, so maybe 1986 wasn't that great.|
In 1986 I listened to a whole lot of Top 40 radio, though by year's end that would change as I slowly started getting into classic rock. I was aware of movie soundtracks, and even if certain songs were from movies I was too young to see, thanks to videos, I could get a fairly good sense of what they were about. The following movies had some of the best songs that I remember well from that year:
- Top Gun. Duh! I still have this soundtrack on vinyl, and it's nothing but hits, "Danger Zone" and "Take My Breath Away" being the biggest. I remember being disappointed that "Danger Zone" didn't make it to number one on the charts - if I recall correctly, I believe it plateaued at number two! I also remember thinking how strange it was that Berlin's Terri Nunn had blonde hair with black tips at the bottom. Dyed hair was still a relatively new concept to me, and between Cyndi Lauper, Boy George, Annie Lennox and dozens of big-hair metal bands, there were plenty of examples of them to be found.
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I was a sleepaway camp counselor in 1995 when the Beatles Anthology was released, and all summer long, kids as young as six, seven, eight years old had the Beatles on the brain. So it was with us in 1986 when "Twist and Shout" got a big boost thanks to this film. The Beatles, man, they just never go out of style. I have a friend in her 70s who claims to not like them, but I suspect it's only a mildly passive dislike at worst and not an out-and-out hate.
- Stand By Me. Oooh, man, I can recall it like it was yesterday, how big Ben E. King's classic hit was amongst us eighth-graders when this movie came out. I had a father who played old-school soul all the time, so I may have been a bit more familiar with this song than my classmates, but still, we all loved this song so much. We liked the movie, of course, but the song just felt special somehow even without the movie. Between this, Ferris, Soul Man and Jumpin' Jack Flash, it was a good year for old songs getting a new lease on life thanks to movies.
- Transformers: The Movie. "You got the TOUCH! YOU GOT THE POWERRRRRRRRR!!!"
Also, Weird Al.
- Pretty in Pink. Yeah, I was in love with Molly Ringwald like the rest of teenage America in 1986, and this film had another killer soundtrack, with "Pretty in Pink" and "If You Leave" being the big highlights. I wouldn't really begin to appreciate new wave music until later on in high school, though.