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Soundtrack Saturdays • Dirty Dancing

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everyone knew what you were talking about when you were spouting nonsense about Baby and how nobody puts her in the corner.

By the time 1988 rolled around, everyone, and I do mean everyone knew what you were talking about when you were spouting nonsense about Baby and how nobody puts her in the corner. Yup, if you haven’t guessed it, this week’s Soundtrack Saturday will deal with the soundtrack to the classic 1987 movie, Dirty Dancing starring the late Patrick Swayze and his pre-op co-star, Jennifer Grey.

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For those that don’t remember the film, it’s a chick flick about summer loving between bad boy dance instructor Johnny Castle and innocent/not-so-innocent debutante Francis “Baby” Houseman. The soundtrack when it was released was a mixture of R&B hits from the 1960’s and brand new songs for the then late 1980’s age when the film was released. For as timeless and infinitely classic as this film is, when I was watching it as a young kid, it didn’t dawn on me that the producers and music supervisor alike cared not for time consistency. Why, if this movie is supposed to take place in 1963, does the soundtrack feature songs from the 1980’s? Laziness? Was it more about the story than the music within? That’s impossible though. The music was an uncredited character in the movie. Yes, it’s a romantic flick that just happened to feature music and dancing of an exotic nature, but why are we crossing musical eras? I guess the producers didn’t want people to forget that this movie was released in the late 1980’s, thus the very late 80’s songs.

Baby first meets Johnny at the employees quarters while carrying a watermelon while sweaty Johnny Castle cuts it up with his dance partner, Penny (you remember Penny. She’s the one that had that back alley abortion that ultimately thrust Baby into the dancing spotlight.)

Forgiving the musical mashup, as I sit here and rediscover the Dirty Dancing soundtrack for myself, each scene of the film pops into my skull to accompany the song that’s playing at any given moment. Like right now, listening to “Do You Love Me” by The Contours totally takes me back to the scene near the beginning of the film when Baby first meets Johnny at the employees quarters while carrying a watermelon while sweaty Johnny Castle cuts it up with his dance partner, Penny (you remember Penny. She’s the one that had that back alley abortion that ultimately thrust Baby into the dancing spotlight.)

The Dirty Dancing soundtrack is notable for other reasons as well. The soundtrack features the song that just screams the title back at your face. That’s right. The song? “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes (Okay, so maybe the song doesn’t scream the title, but any way you look at it, there’s no way to think of Dirty Dancing without also thinking about that song.)

Patrick Swayze was a regular renaissance man. Who knew?

Also included on the soundtrack is the song that’s featured in the opening credits, “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes. “Be My Baby” is a tricky one because if you grew up in the 80’s like me, then you know “Be My Baby” because of Dirty Dancing, but Scorcese aficionados remember it more fondly in the film, Mean Streets. I don’t. Actually, I don’t remember much about Mean Streets except how overrated it is, so yeah, sorry Scorcese fans, “Be My Baby” will always be associated with Dirty Dancing.

How can we speak on the Dirty Dancingsoundtrack without mentioning Patrick Swayze’s turn as recording artist? That’s right, lest we forget, Patrick Swayze also had recorded a song for the soundtrack. The song? “She’s Like The Wind“. The song was co-written by Swayze and back in 1987 reached #3 on Billboard Hot 100 and it shot up to #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Patrick Swayze was a regular renaissance man. Who knew?

Today, fans of Dirty Dancing are hard pressed to separate the film from the soundtrack because both exploded all over the late 1980’s and whenever one of the songs from the soundtrack comes on the radio, it’s difficult not to think about Johnny, Baby, and the rest of the gang at Kellerman’s. Miss the music? Miss the memories? Well feel free to hook yourselves up here. Relive the music, the magic, and the memories of Dirty Dancing today!

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