Soundtracks I Have Loved: The Great Outdoors

Soundtrack: The Great Outdoors
Year Released: 1988
I Bought It On: Cassette
Do I Still Own It?: Yep. [Question now discontinued, because I realize now that I still have all of these]
How Does It Hold Up?: Eh, not too bad

Track List:

1. Land of a Thousand Dances (Part 1)--Elwood Blues Revue featuring Wilson Pickett
2. Hot Fun in the Summertime--Elwood Blues Revue featuring Sam Moore
3. Big Country--Joe Walsh
4. Cabin Fever--David Wilcox
5. Land of a Thousand Dances (Part 2)--Elwood Blues Revue featuring Wilson Pickett
6. Big Bear--Bomb the Bass
7. Beaver Patrol--Pop Will Eat Itself
8. Dragboat--Elwood Blues/Tom Scott
9. Hot Weasel--Elwood Blues/Peter Aykroyd
10. Hey, Cowboy!--Thomas Newman and the Lazy 13

As you may have gathered from this series and other posts here, I'm probably not the guy you want to ask for a movie recommendation. When it comes to movies, I'm what is generally referred to as a moron. I don't have much use for dramas. Action movies aren't really my bag. If a movie is widely considered a classic, chances are I haven't seen it.

But a movie with Dan Aykroyd and John Candy, written and produced by John Hughes, well, now we're talking.

So it was with great joy that, in the summer of 1988, I set out to see The Great Outdoors. I was not disappointed. In fact, I tend to think I saw it twice that summer, but my memory refuses to yield 100% confirmation. At the very least, I saw it at the Orpheum in Tannersville, NY, while on summer vacation. I recall my mother thinking it wasn't very funny, but she eventually came around after a viewing a few months later on VHS. She was, and likely still is, a big fan of the jet-ski scene. How could you not be? And how could that not be one of the scenes someone uploaded to YouTube. C'mon, nerds, get to work. I'd do it, but I've gotta write these blog entries that no one reads.

At least someone had the good sense to record the Old 96er scene off the television.

My other non-soundtrack memory of The Great Outdoors is from eighth grade. Because I was such a good egg (and the Staten Island Catholic School Spelling Bee Champion that year, thank you very much), our teacher, Mrs. Scalegnio, trusted me enough to let me pick the movie we watched as our end-of-the-year treat. Because I went to a Catholic school, most of the movies we were allowed to watch were innocuous movies that contained nothing that could possibly offend the Young Catholic Mind. I can recall screenings of The Neverending Story, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (which I was sick for), and The Trouble With Angels, which I think is the one where we decided we'd had enough and wanted to pick the movie next time.

So, I came up with a few choices (I can't remember what else I came up with, but I'm pretty sure one was Walk Like A Man, which, though I haven't seen it in 20 years and can't remember much about it, I can't possibly defend), running through the movies in my head and trying to make sure there were no objectionable parts. I think the class decided on The Great Outdoors, and I was likely pleased with that outcome. I couldn't recall anything offensive, and since it was rated PG, I figured I was safe.

Then the movie started, and I was reminded of some objectionable--or at least objectionable to an eighth-grade teacher--scenes I'd forgotten about. Like the one where Chet Ripley--John Candy's character--is taking his wife's bra off. And the occasional salty language, like when Roman Craig (Dan Aykroyd) tells Chet that hot dogs are made of "lips and assholes" or when he heads to the bathroom by way of saying, "Time to introduce Mr. Thick Dick to Mr. Urinal Cake" (the latter of which is now one of my favorite movie lines but apparently went right over my head back then). And then there's the scene where Mrs. Ripley and Mrs. Craig (played by Annette Bening, in the only movie I've ever seen her in) talk about how the latter occasionally has to find, ahem, gratification by sitting on the washing machine.

I think Mrs. Scalegnio turned red a few times.

As these scenes began and I realized what I had forgotten about, I would start coughing uncontrollably to cover up the offending dialogue. I don't think I was very successful, and sometimes I could only keep the coughing charade going for so long. Whatever. At least we saw one decent movie in eight years.

Enough of that. Let's move on to the soundtrack, which has helpfully been uploaded by YouTube user SoundRarity (who has also uploaded the Twins soundtrack, which somehow escaped my purview and includes 2 Live Crew's painful cover of "Yakety Yak" [the original, by the way, opens The Great Outdoors but doesn't make it to the soundtrack]), so you can enjoy it in all its glory.

And there is indeed some glory here, though some shine brighter than others. The usually reliable Joe Walsh isn't so hot on "Big Country," which Wikipedia tells me was the original title of the movie, and Thomas Newman (him again?) probably could've trimmed a minute from "Hey Cowboy!". But those are the worst of the bunch.

I don't think I need to hear David Wilcox's "Cabin Fever" more than once a decade, but it aint a bad song. And Pop Will Eat Itself's "Beaver Patrol" is not without its charm. But the contributions of Wilson Pickett and Sam Moore carry the soundtrack. Granted, I'm not entirely sure why there needed to be two versions of Pickett singing "Land of a Thousand Dances," but, really, can you ever have too many? And the 11-year-old me was probably pretty excited to hear another version of the song after the epic cover by the WWF's finest on The Wrestling Album. Hard to top that one, but Pickett tries his best to reclaim the tune. Good video, too, featuring Dan Aykroyd's return to choreographed music video dancing.

And, as for Moore, I think the soundtrack's version of "Hot Fun in the Summertime" (not sure who's doing the rest of the vocals, because no one's credited) is better than the original. Sorry, Sly.

I suppose it would be cooler if I said one of these two songs was my favorite on the album, but we should all know by now that cool passed me by a long time ago. So I will gladly admit that my favorite song on the soundtrack is "Big Bear" by Bomb The Bass. To be fair, though, Annette Bening makes the song (she utters the titular phrase).

And in case you wanted the scene from the movie (another classic), here's a snippet:

And so ends my salute to the soundtracks of John Hughes Movies No One Ever Really Talks About. The next installment of SIHL (and most remaining installments, I think) will stay in the 1980s, though, so be prepared for more nostalgic reminiscences of when I actually went to the movies.

Until then, keep an eye on Reg for your Storm Tracker updates.

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