The story behind Dirty Dancing songs 💃🕺 A soundtrack like no other
(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life, Hungry Eyes, She’s Like the Wind… Dirty Dancing music has that magic of songs that connect with us. This because each song of the soundtrack recollects a beautiful story, do you want to know them?
Dirty Dancing Songs
- (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life | Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes | 1986
- Be My Baby | The Ronettes | 1963
- She’s Like the Wind | Patrick Swayze | 1984
- Hungry Eyes | Eric Carmen | 1987
- Stay | Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs | 1960
- Yes | Merry Clayton | 1987
- You Don’t Own Me | The Blow Monkeys | 1963
- Hey! Baby | Bruce Channel | 1961
- Overload | Alfie Zappacosta | 1987
- Love Is Strange | Mickey & Sylvia | 1956
- Where Are You Tonight? | Tom Johnston | 1987
- In the Still of the Night | The Five Satins | 1956
- Do yo love me? | The Contours | 1962
Story behind all Dirty Dancing songs
The music of Dirty Dancing is a clever and exciting mix of early 60’s tunes, Latin instrumentals and new songs made for the film, sung by renowned artists (Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes, Eric Carmen, Tom Johnson…). Each track is specially linked to a moment in the film because its screenwriter, Eleanor Bergstein, conceived it that way. The Dirty Dancing soundtrack has sold 32 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums in history, even though the low budget of the film (5 million dollars) was about to kill the movie ✂️ Luckily it didn’t happen, and we have songs like ‘(I’ve had) the time of my life’, whose stories will surprise you:
1. (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life
- If there is a scene that is remembered from Dirty Dancing is Baby and Johnny’s final dance of. It is part of the history of cinema, and much of it is due to ‘The time of my life‘, a generational anthem 🆓
- The dance was started rehearsing using a metronome at 60 bits per second, because the music was still undecided. There were 150 candidate songs, can you imagine which was the winner? Yes, the last.
- Lyrics were written by Franke Previte, music by John DeNicola and Don Markowitz. Franke was not very convinced to do a song for a movie whose title sounded pornographic to him, but his record company insisted and he did it, being the chosen song for Dirty Dancing.
- Franke made with his band, Franke and the Knockouts, a demo, which was used in the recording of the film, because the screenwriter, Eleanor Bergstein, wanted it to be sung by a famous artist of the 60’s and they had not yet found one.
The dance scene was filmed in 3 marathon days, with Patrick Swayze suffering from severe knee pain due to an injury he had since high school. The final jump was repeated 14 times. Few seem to me if I compare them with those that my wife and I rehearsed, when we had the brilliant idea to replicate the jump in our wedding dance. I’d better not tell you about the result 😅
- They wanted the song to be sung by Donna Summer and Joe Esposito, but both turned it down.
- Then came Bill Medley of ‘The Righteous Brothers‘ and Jennifer Warnes, who also almost rejected the song because they thought it was a porn movie too 👅
- They were finally convinced being their version released on the official Dirty Dancing soundtrack in 1987. They won a Grammy, a Golden Globe and even an Oscar for Best Original Song.
2. Be My Baby
- “Be My Baby” was the biggest hit of the female trio The Ronettes, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. So much so that it is considered one of the best songs of the 1960s.
- The group’s producer is the well-known Phil Spector, famous for the production formula called Wall of Sound, which he used almost for the first time on ‘Be My Baby’.
- The track was recorded with a full orchestra 🎻🎺🎷
- It’s almost impossible to perceive, but in the choruses of this song we can find Cher and her then partner, Sonny, before they both became famous.
- The only part of Dirty Dancing where the song plays is in the opening credits, as you can see in the video.
3. She’s Like The Wind
Did you know that the song was composed and sung by Patrick Swayze himself?
- Yes he did, with his friend Stacy Widelitz, and funnily enough, he did it for another movie called Grandview USA, but they rejected it.
- During the filming of Dirty Dancing, Patrick, knowing that there was almost no budget, offered the producers the song for free, but keeping the rights. Swayze never imagined that the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing would go multi-platinum 💰
- By the way the female voice you hear at the end of the song, doesn’t belong to Jennifer Grey (Baby), but to singer Wendy Fraser.
- With permission of ‘The Time of my life‘, it’s my favorite song. The piano melody, it’s sax that shines after each chorus, Patrick’s soft voice… Goosebumps!
- It plays during the saddest moment of the movie, when Johnny is fired and walks away from Baby 😭
4. Hungry Eyes
- Did you know that the author of this song is Franke Previte? The same one that wrote ‘I’ve had the time of my life‘.
- It is a power ballad, interpreted by Eric Carmen, vocalist of The Raspberries. and creator of the mega-hit “All by Myself”, which would later be popularized even more by Celine Dion.
- All in all, “Hungry Eyes” was his biggest hit. Who would have guessed that Eric was hesitant to do it because he always thought soundtrack music has “horrible deaths”. The fact is that he recorded it and there isn’t a day that goes by that it doesn’t play on some radio station anywhere in the world 📻
- It’s impossible to forget this track playing while Johnny tickles Baby by rubbing his arm against her, as he teaches her to dance.
- “Stay” is a Doo-Wop song, you know, the sound that Bruno Mars loves.
- It was written by Maurice Williams when he was 15 years old. He had tried to convince his date not to go home at 10 o’clock but failed. That moment inspired the song, which as he said:
Like a flood, the words just came to me.
- It was first recorded in 1960 by Williams with his group The Zodiacs. Later, The Hollies, The Four Seasons and Jackson Browne released commercially successful versions.
- “Stay” is the shortest single to reach the top of the U.S. charts. Do you know how long it is? 1 minute and 36 seconds. That didn’t stop it from selling 8 million copies.
- The song was to be performed by Mary Wells, an artist known at the time for her song ‘My Guy‘, but when she arrived at the studio she had a terrible cold 🤧 and was unable to record.
- The label was in a hurry, so they figured if they went for someone with a similar name, the producers of Dirty Dancing wouldn’t notice.
- And so it was, one of the backup singers was named Merry Clayton. Mary and Merry sound very similar, don’t they? So they offered her the chance to sing the song. She accepted without hesitation and ‘Yes‘ became yet another Dirty Dancing hit.
7. You Don’t Own Me
- “You Don’t Own Me” is a 1963 song by a singer who was only 17 years old at the time, Lesley Gore.
- It is a song of emancipation. In it, Lesley tells her partner that he doesn’t own her, that he shouldn’t tell her what to do or what to say, and that he shouldn’t put her on the spot.
- The lyrics became an inspiration to younger women and are sometimes cited as a trigger for the second wave of the feminist movement in the United States ✊
- Surprisingly, the song is not sung by Lesley on Dirty Dancing soundtrack, but by a British band called ‘The Blow Monkeys‘.
8. Hey! Baby
- “Hey Baby” is a song written by Margaret Cobb and Bruce Channel, and recorded by the latter in 1961, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 where it stayed for 3 weeks.
- The song features a legendary harmonica riff, having that sixties sound that pushes you to the dance floor.
- In case you don’t remember, the track plays when Johnny takes Baby into the woods and they practice balancing on a log 🌴
- I don’t know if you noticed but the song is named after the leading lady in Dirty Dancing, “Baby“. Just a coincidence?
- Alfredo Peter “Alfie” Zappacosta, also known only by his last name, is a Canadian musician of Italian origin.
- When he was asked to compose a song for Dirty Dancing, he didn’t even know what the movie was about, but he wrote “Overload” anyway.
- Although the song doesn’t play for more than 1 or 2 minutes in the movie, its simplicity and rock ‘n’ roll feel makes you smile and want to look for an old jukebox to play another song 🎵
10. Love Is Strange
- The scene where ‘Love is Strange‘ plays was not in the script. Patrick Swayze (Johnny) and Jennifer Grey (Baby) were warming up for one of the dance scenes, frolicking and having fun.
- Unbeknownst to them, the director started filming. It was so good and natural that it stayed in the movie.
- On the musical side “Love Is Strange” is a hit by American rhythm and blues duo Mickey & Sylvia, super famous for its dialogue, which goes:
– Sylvia! – Yes, Mickey – How do you call your Lover Boy? – Come here, Lover Boy! – And if he doesn’t answer? – Oh, Lover Boy! – And if he still doesn’t answer! – I simply say… – Baby/ Oh baby/ My sweet baby/ You’re the one
11. Where Are You Tonight?
- Charles Thomas Johnston is an American guitarist and vocalist, known primarily for his rock band, The Doobie Brothers, with whom he played for 50 years.
- Johnston, who was taking a break from his band, was asked by a friend to record a song for the soundtrack of a new movie called Dirty Dancing. He said, ‘Why not?‘
- Like many of the other Dirty Dancing music writers, Johnston was hugely surprised when the album became a sensation. He joked:
Chicks loved that movie. I got a new BMW out of it. Pretty sweet deal 🚘
12. In The Still Of The Night
- “In the Still of the Night” is a song written by Fred Parris and recorded by his Five Satins in 1956.
- Although it had a moderate success when it was first released, over the years its popularity grew, even more so when it was chosen among the Dirty Dancing songs.
- It has become one of the best known and loved doo-wop songs ever.
- Here is one of the original performances of Five Satins.
13. Do You Love Me?
- We finish the Dirty Dancing music tour, with one of the first songs that plays in the movie, when Babe sees the workers dancing sensually in a private place in the resort. There’s where Baby meets Johnny for the first time 😍
- Berry Gordy wrote “Do You Love Me” and gave it to The Contours, who were in danger of being dropped from the label after their first 2 singles failed to chart. They instantly agreed.
- The song became a hit on the dancefloors, mainly because of the incredible screams of its singer, Gordon, selling over 1 million copies.
- The song refers to 2 popular dance moves from the 60’s, the Mashed Potato 🥔 and the Twist.
- We leave you with what best represents the spirit of Dirty Dancing, the dance, expressed magnificently in the intro of this song, which says:
You broke my heart, ’cause I couldn’t dance You didn’t even want me around And now I’m back, to let you know I can really shake ’em down
Did you know...?
Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey didn’t get along very well, he said:
Whilst they got on better than was generally perceived, there was still friction.
She slipped into silly moods, forcing us to do scenes over again when she’d start laughing. I didn’t have a whole lot of patience for multiple retakes.
Val Kilmer was initially offered the role of Johnny, and both Sarah Jessica Parker and Sharon Stone auditioned to play Baby. When filming began, it was confirmed that Billy Zane was to play Johnny, but he was fired when it was realized he had no chemistry with Jennifer Grey 😂
Patrick Swayze hated the name of the movie, but the alternative was far worse: ‘I Was a Teenage Mambo Queen’.
The film is almost based on real events. The screenwriter, Eleanor Bergstein, based it on her experiences: her father was a doctor, her family spent summers in a villa-hotel like the one in the movie, she used to get into trouble as Baby and was even called “Baby” there. Finally Bergstein had an experience with a dance instructor who was much older than her, sound familiar? 😆
🤔 Google most searched questions about Dirty Dancing music
What is the name of the song from Dirty Dancing?
Although everyone knows it, many do not remember the name of the great song that is danced at the end of Dirty Dancing. Its official title is ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life‘, although most of us simply say ‘The Time of My Life‘.
What kind of music is Dirty Dancing?
Dirty Dancing music can be included in the Pop, Rock, R&B and Soul genres. It is based on 60’s music, Doo-Wop songs and Latin instrumentation, an irresistible combination!
Who sings the song 'Time of My Life' from Dirty Dancing?
Bill Medley of ‘The Righteous Brother‘ featuring Jennifer Warnes. Although it was composed by Franke Previte, of ‘Franke and the Knockouts‘, John DeNicola and Don Markowitz. The latter were in charge of setting Franke’s lyrics to music.
Where is the movie Dirty Dancing set?
Dirty Dancing was filmed in the United States, in the state of Virginia, more specifically in the town of Pembroke where there is a vacation resort called ‘Mountain Lake Hotel’, which as its name suggests, is in the mountains. If you want to know it and experience the feeling of being inside Dirty Dancing you can stay at the Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia, where 3 weekends a year they organize the Dirty Dancing experience.
When was Dirty Dancing made?
Its official release was in August 1987, becoming the highest-grossing independent film to that time with more than 200 million grossed. Up to 43 studios rejected the project until the video company Vestron Pictures agreed to produce it for 5 million dollars and not one single dollar more. The filming, which took place between 1986 and 1987 and lasted 3 months, is full of anecdotes about how they managed to cut costs 😅
Find more music related to: Alfie Zappacosta | Bill Medley | Bruce Channel | Eric Carmen | Jennifer Warnes | Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs | Merry Clayton | Mickey & Sylvia | Music 1956 | Music 1960 | Music 1961 | Music 1962 | Music 1963 | Music 1984 | Music 1986 | Music 1987 | Original Soundtracks | Patrick Swayze | The Blow Monkeys | The Contours | The Five Satins | The Ronettes | Tom Johnston