Another icon of my youth is gone. Writer, director, producer John Hughes, who help define my generation with films like The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (I just watched parts of that the other day!), Sixteen Candles (that too!), Weird Science (bringing Oingo Boingo to the masses), Planes Trains and Automobiles (“Those aren’t pillows!“), and about a hundred other titles you’d recognize, died today of today in New York City, apparently of a heart attack while taking a walk. Perhaps more than Michael Jackson, or at least in a totally different way, Hughes infused music into the popular culture of the youth who would become Generation X by making movie soundtracks a source of musical discovery. Those of us in high school and even junior high at the time saw our own lives reflected in the poster covered bedrooms of characters portrayed by Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, and Matthew Broderick. Simple Minds, The Specials, Spandau Ballet, OMD, New Order, Thompson Twins, The Vapors... Hughes brought a whole library of new music to the mainstream through his movies. Sure, there were a few Kajagoogoo’s and Wang Chung’s in the mix, and if you look carefully at his song selections you’ll find an expectedly wide range of artists like Kim Wilde, Ratt, Los Lobos, Wayne Newton, General Public, Lords of the New Church, Van Halen, and The Dream Academy, but most notably Hughes made New Wave cool and inspired directors who followed him, like Cameron Crowe and Wes Anderson, to compose soundtracks as artfully as their movies. The man will be missed, but his impact on our culture will remain for a long time to come.
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