Sunday, April 8, 2018

"St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" by John Parr

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2367
Date:  06/22/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  When producer/songwriter David Foster was put in charge of developing the soundtrack to the upcoming film St. Elmo's Fire, he reached out to rocker John Parr for some assistance. Foster liked Parr's work including his recent self-titled debut album that featured the #23 Pop hit "Naughy, Naughty." The pair then set out to come up with a theme song specifically for the film. Yet, instead of using the film and/or its script as inspiration for the song, Parr and Foster looked to another source, Canadian athlete Rick Hansen (see below). Once written, the pair would record the tune for the film's soundtrack. It would be selected as the first single from the associated album and issued out just a few weeks prior to the film's debut. Although it was a bit of a slow starter, the song gained traction after the film's release and after folks began to discover the real inspiration behind the song. It would eventually reach the top spot on the Pop chart while getting to #2 at Rock and #4 at AC. It would help the soundtrack album get to #21 and go gold.

ReduxReview: Without its backstory, who knows whether this song would have still been a big hit. I think it would have done well, but with the movie not a big box office blockbuster (it finished #23 for the year), it might have quietly hit and disappeared. However, the Hansen story tie-in certainly drew attention to the song and definitely had a hand in making it a hit. It turned the song from being a standard film tune into something inspirational. Even when this song became a hit, no one cared about the movie. The Brat Pack flick was a critical dud and no one flocked to the film because of this song. Basically, Parr and Foster found the perfect inspiration at the right time and came up with this 80s classic. Foster gives the tune a noisy, yet exciting production and Parr sells the tune with all he's got. Some folks think it's rather corny, but in the pantheon of inspirational rock themes, I think this one hangs right in there with other biggies like "Eye of the Tiger."

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) When songwriting began on this track, Foster showed Parr a video of Canadian athlete Rick Hansen, who was paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 15 following an accident. Hansen wanted to draw attention and raise money for spinal chord research and began a journey in his wheelchair. Called his "Man in Motion" tour, Hansen traveled about seventy miles a day in his wheelchair from place to place spreading the word and gathering donations. Initially, his efforts didn't garner a lot of press or attention, but after the song became a hit, he was put in the spotlight and soon he had traveled over 24,000 miles in various countries and raised over $26 million.  2) Although this song was eligible, the hit did not receive an Oscar nod for Best Original Song. There are folks that have speculated that the reason for the snub had to do with the song's inspiration. Academy rules state that a song must have been written specifically for the film, which this was. However, what made it a grey area for a lot of folks was the fact that the song was based on Hansen and had nothing to do with the film itself. In essence, it seemed like the song was not written for the film. Whether Hansen's story truly worked against the song is unknown, but all the attention certainly helped Hansen and his cause.



  1. 10/10 for me. An 80's classic! But I didn't care too much for the movie.

    1. Yeah, the movie was a stinker but at least we got this song out of it.