Top Tracks: 5 songs from BACK TO THE FUTURE

As a longtime fan of Back to the future movie (forget the sequels), I was both suspicious and excited about the musical. Now that the original cast recording is available for all to see, I can at least confirm that the music retains that groovy rockabilly sound from the film and adds a 21st century touch. Below are my best tracks from the album.

“Cake”

Following the end of Marty McFly in 1955, his welcome to an eerily familiar Hill Valley is an ode to the musicals (and hilariously outdated ideals) of the 1950s. Townspeople sing along to lyrics like “These filtered cigarettes are new (so new ) / And even doctors say they’re good for you” and “For home insulation, asbestos is the best (is the best) / It keeps you warm and warm (so hot. . .),” which earns a fun laugh. Plus, the pitter-patter cadence of the entire song is a good time.

“Pretty Baby”

This lovely song sung by Lorraine (Marty’s mother, who doesn’t know that Marty is her son traveling from the future) strays a bit further in time from “Cake” to incorporate the sounds of doo-wop. She thinks she’s falling in love with a boy named Calvin Klein (“it’s written all over your underwear!”) but it’s obviously more complicated than that. With the backing vocal harmonies of a The Supremes-esque trio, what could be a creepy, inciting love song is more of a nod to the joy of meeting cutes.

“Future Boy”

This number, sung by Marty (Ollie Obson) and Doc (Roger Bart), is a highlight that really pushes the plot forward. At the start, Marty sings that he got stuck in 1955 – he’s got a life to live in 1985! – and embodies the feeling we all have when we are stuck in an impossible situation to solve. Then, after discovering the answer, the change in tone allows Doc to reverse the song, turning it into a growing number of confidence. They’re going to bring Marty home!

“Get there in mind”

As Marty tries to hide from his mother, he realizes he must make his father, George, the man Lorraine will fall in love with. This duo with nods to 70s rock is as cool as Mick Jagger. Lyrics like “When you play, have fun / Look like you’ve already won” and “Stop apologizing / Be whatever you want to be” are mottos to stick to. There are a number of spoken gags in the song, helping the listener visualize the song on stage even if they haven’t seen the musical.

“Deep Divine”

Pour yourself a glass of whiskey, sit back and press play on this R&B-jazz hybrid. Marvin Berry (Cedric Neal) is soulful and looking for love – and you can feel it in this issue. Although less of a plot song, it epitomizes the new sound that was beginning to emerge in the mid-twentieth century. It’s a key theme that runs through the show and an important inclusion. Plus, the steady bass mixed in with the trumpets and piano make it the perfect addition to any late-night playlist.


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Grace D. Erickson