It’s hard to know when it will hit or what could trigger it. Whatever the case, it gets us thinking about a simpler time. A time that we’re able to look back on fondly and somehow filter out the bad leaving only the positive memories. It’s a lens through which we see the past or, in this case, hear the past.
When I was a kid, there were a number of things we listened to in the car. My parents, being the ones in the front seats, were the ones who chose what we listened to. Kids today have iPads with AirPods and they can watch and listen to anything they want as long as it doesn’t violate whatever parental locks have been put into place on their tablets. Back in the day, we may have been blessed with a Walkman that my sister and I had to take turns using if we wanted to listen to a cassette tape that no one else wanted to hear. Otherwise, it’s whatever the adults are choosing…
There were only a handful of radio stations that made Mom and Dad’s cut. But what I remember most is the movie soundtracks they would pop into the tape deck that we would listen to on repeat. In my memory, this went on for years. In reality, it was probably only a few months for each of those soundtracks. Being the late ’80s, these were definitely cassette tapes. CDs weren’t a thing in the Peck household until the mid-90s at best.
Enough preamble… Here are the five movie soundtracks that stand out when I think about riding around in the car as a kid.
I certainly would not have been allowed to watch this movie when it came out in 1988. It is not a movie for an 8-year-old. But the film did give us a pretty amazing soundtrack. Did my Mom buy it because it had a picture of a young Tom Cruise on the cover? Possibly… Was it a mutually agreed upon purchase by both parents because of the songs included? Maybe… Did they just get it from Columbia House because it had The Beach Boys’ classic “Kokomo”? Most likely… But “Kokomo” wasn’t the only classic to be found on this album. We had Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”, Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti”, and Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” among so many others.
2. Dirty Dancing
Come on… When you think of Dirty Dancing, what song immediately comes to mind? “She’s Like the Wind”, of course. Just kidding… Patrick Swayze’s big hit has its place, yes. But what you probably think of is “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. If you don’t think of that song you’ve never seen Dirty Dancing or the big dance number at the end of the movie. Again, this soundtrack has so many classics: “Be My Baby”, “Hungry Eyes”, “Hey Baby”, “Love Is Strange”, “In the Still of the Night”… I mean, where does it end?
3. The Big Chill
This is another movie that I was definitely not old enough to see (as I was three at the time). But my folks, I’m pretty sure, loved it. And that translated into the movie’s music, as well. Because it’s all Oldies. And, I’d say, a good 75% of the time when the radio was playing, it was on the Oldies station. So with this, we get Marvin Gaye and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, Procol Harum and “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles with “The Tracks of My Tears”, The Teptations and “My Girl”. Seriously great soundtrack.
Okay, sure, Beaches is basically a Bette Midler album. But, to be fair, all of the songs come from the movie Beaches, a film which is probably underrated by today’s audiences. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but it might be one of those that you watch when you’re ready to settle in for a good cry. But yeah… it’s all Bette Midler all the time. She does “Under the Boardwalk”, “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today”, “The Glory of Love” (not the Peter Cetera joint from Karate Kid Part II), “Baby Mine”, and of course “The Wind Beneath My Wings”.
5. The Muppets Greatest Hits
Okay… technically this isn’t a movie soundtrack. But it had songs from the various Muppet movies that had been released up to that point. And it had songs from Jim Henson related television shows, too. Obviously there was “Rainbow Connection” and the Muppet Show theme song. But there was also the Fraggle Rock theme song and the Muppet Babies theme song and the Sesame Street theme song. And that opens the door for “C Is For Cookie” by Cookie Monster, “Rubber Ducky” by Ernie, and “Good Things Happen In the Dark” by the entire cast of Muppet Babies. From The Muppets Take Manhattan we got “Saying Goodbye”, which is usually a tearjerker. And from the less popular Great Muppet Caper, we had “Happiness Hotel”, which was a fun one to sing along with. Who am I kidding… they were all fun. And it was a two volume set. Hours of listening enjoyment.
Yes, there have been other movie soundtracks that have come and gone over the years as I’ve grown into adulthood and learned to recognize what kind of music I like and dislike. Some other favorites include, but are not limited to: Sleepless In Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, We Bought a Zoo, Guardians of the Galaxy, and most of the animated movies that Disney puts out (but especially Tarzan, am I right?).
What movie soundtracks do you remember listening to as a kid when you were bopping along in the back seat of the car? Do any favorites stand out to you like the above titles did for me? Let me know what you listened to down in the comments below!