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SoundTRAX: "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"

John Candy has his arm around a clearly uncomfortable Steve Martin.
MCA Records
/
Paramount Pictures

SoundTRAX is a dive into notable music from iconic films and TV shows every Monday-Thursday at 8:10.


It's Thanksgiving week and you think I'm not bringing Planes, Trains and Automobiles into the mix? Madness!

The buddy comedy starring Steve Martin and the late John Candy turns 36 this weekend and is mandatory viewing at my house this time of year.

(Take it easy film snobs, I know it's not an art film but it never fails to make me laugh.)

John Hughes was writer, producer and director, and few filmmakers could inject heart into a comedy like he did.

Martin plays Neal Page, a super-serious business executive who, through a series of misadventures, gets stuck trying to make it home for Thanksgiving with the help of lovable but annoying shower curtain ring salesman, Del Griffith, played by Candy.

The "odd couple" relationship and chemistry between those two comedic legends is terrific, Kevin Bacon makes an iconic cameo, and there are forever quotable moments from Edie McClurg as a car rental agent, and Dylan Baker as Owen, who, along with his equally intense wife, gives the guys a ride in the back of his truck.

The film's official soundtrack, for me, is more notable for what's inexplicably not there.

No "Mess Around" by Ray Charles? No "Blue Moon of Kentucky" from Bill Monroe?

And it's bad enough that even though both John Hughes and Paul Young wanted Young's hit version of the Daryl Hall-penned "Everytime You Go Away" to be in the movie, Young's label refused, so it was performed in the film by English band Blue Moon. Yet no version of the song ended up on the compilation.

But there are plenty of bright spots.

Ira Newborn scored the film and frequently revisits "Red River Valley" with "Red River Rock" performed by Silicon Teens. Steve Earle & The Dukes put their spin on the country classic "Six Days on the Road," Dave Edmunds contributes "Gonna Move," and The Dream Academy composed a touching theme song for Candy's misunderstood character.

But for today's SoundTRAX selection I'm going with a tune originally recorded in the early 60s by Patsy Cline. The cover in the film helps to illustrate, well, what is and what isn't a pillow.

From Planes, Trains and Automobiles it's Emmylou Harris with "Back in Baby's Arms."

Mel is the WFPK morning host. Email Mel at mfisher@lpm.org.