Very few people can say they've had the sort of prolonged streak of perfection in their work that John Hughes enjoyed from, say, 1983 (the screenplay for National Lampoon's Vacation) to 1988 (She's Having a Baby). And while he shaped my generation's worldview during that span -- specifically via Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller's Day Off -- I will take issue with one professional decision he made during that time span.
He never put together an official Ferris soundtrack for wide release. He did send an unofficial version to fans who made it onto a mailing list by sending in fan letters. (How was I not on this list?) You can buy those secondhand all over the Internet, but you can't just download one from iTunes.
In an interview with Lollipop, he said: "In fact, the only official soundtrack that Ferris Bueller's Day Off ever had was for the mailing list. A&M was very angry with me over that; they begged me to put one out, but I thought, 'Who'd want all of these songs?' [Aside: Me.] I mean, would kids want 'Danke Schoen' and 'Oh Yeah' on the same record? [Again, yes. I would.] They probably already had "Twist and Shout," or their parents did, and to put all of those together with the more contemporary stuff, like the [English] Beat -- I just didn't think anybody would like it."
[Respectfully, sir, you were wrong.]
Anyway, in celebration of today being the 30th anniversary of the day Ferris took off from school (and the day that Cameron was in Egypt's land), here are the highlights that would have been on the soundtrack that should have been.
Sigue Sigue Sputnik: Love Missile F1-11
When Ferris' parents head off to work and he throws open the curtains in his room, this jam gets us in the mood for the day that is to come. It plays in the background while he rigs the decoy in his bed and hops in the shower. "Love Missile F1-11" was the first single from the band's debut album; this fact alone illustrates that Hughes had a keen ear for new music.
The Flowerpot Men: Beat City
After Ferris and Cameron successfully spring Sloane from school ("Do you have a kiss for Daddy?"), the three of them make their way to downtown Chicago. As the engine revs on Cameron's dad's 1961 Ferrari GT California, you can actually see Cameron's blood pressure rising. Good thing they found a safe place to park the car.
The Dream Academy: Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
This version is the best-known cover version of the original by The Smiths. It's a masterful choice to set the mood as the three of them tour the Art Institute of Chicago -- hand-in-hand with an elementary school field trip, even -- and find quiet, reflective moments that paint the characters in a deeper light.
The Dream Academy: The Edge of Forever
Cameron just launched his dad's car out of the glass garage (but don't worry, he says, "it's gonna be good."). It's time for Ferris to bid goodnight to Sloane before he races his family home. This song tucks neatly and quietly under their farewell -- so much so that you may have missed it before.
Here's a list of the other songs that would have been included. Have a listen, why don't you? After all, life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.