How “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” Saved <i>Dirty Dancing</i>

Franke Previte had some success with his band Franke and the Knockouts in the early 1980s. By 1986, he was writing songs and selling cars on the side. Then Jimmy Ienner contacted him about writing a song for a movie then in production called Dirty Dancing. The commission had to be quick and exactly right, as the film was almost finished shooting, and they still didn’t have a song for the final scene. In fact, writer-producer Eleanor Bergstein was terrified about having to shoot the most important dance of the movie without a song.
Though Previte hadn’t talked to Ienner in two years, the former head of Millenium Records was suddenly in his ear with a way back into the industry. “He goes, I’ve got this little movie, I want you to think about writing a song for it,” Previte recalls. Though he thought the offer was a dead end, Ienner insisted. “Make time, this is going to change your life.” When Previte heard the movie’s title, Ienner reassured him of the movie’s credentials, gave him a general description of the plot, and explained the parameters: The song needed to fill seven minutes and be ready in two weeks. “I’m like, Oh my god, I’ve got to write ‘MacArthur Park,’” Previte says.

But with just $100 in his bank account, Previte had nothing to lose. He called John DeNicola, a musician he’d written with before, and asked him to compose a backtrack. Previte explained the movie (“Baby meets Johnny in the Catskills”) and offered some structural notes: The chorus would begin at half-speed, he told DeNicola, and the verses would switch to double-time to become an upbeat dance tune. With those details, DeNicola called up Donald Markowitz for assistance. The two had collaborated before, and Markowitz was one of the few people he knew who had an eight-track sequencing machine. Inside his one-bedroom Upper West Side apartment, Markowitz took DeNicola’s notes and “wrote the music to it in 20 minutes,” Markowitz says. The next day, theybegan to tweak and record. “We went in there with a drum machine and bass guitar and a couple of keyboards [and] pounded out some music,” DeNicola says.

Previte did both vocal parts for the song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” so the actors and dancers could complete the film, but Bergstein wanted singers from the 1960s to sing the 1980s song in the final edit. Read the complete story of how the movie and the song came together at The Ringer. -viaDigg

Source: neatorama

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