The Breakfast Club
It seems that the residents of Des Plaines, Illinois, didn’t listen to Simple Minds’ lead singer, Jim Kerr, when he begged and pleaded for people not to forget. Maine North High School, which was opened in 1970, closed down a mere eleven years later in 1981 – a very short lifespan for a public school building. Since that time, the structure has been used as a police station, a lottery payout office, a regional office of the state level EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and a film set. For '80s movie buffs, the closing was a blessing in disguise, as it was used as the primary location for two John Hughes’ classics: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
and The Breakfast Club.
The city of Des Plaines features three other high schools, aptly named South, East, and West. I suppose there just weren’t enough students to warrant maintaining North as well. Thankfully for Hughes, the school featured a gargantuan gymnasium that was easily transformed into the iconic library of the fictitious Shermer High School in The Breakfast Club.
If you haven’t seen this film, you must. That’s an order. It delves into themes of social stereotypes, as well as the struggle of the American teenager to fit in and to be understood by adults, specifically, parents and teachers.
The story tells of five kids from different social cliques who find themselves stuck together in a Saturday detention. Their preconceived notions of one another gradually dissolve, though, when they begin to open up about their true inner selves. The lesson is not to judge a book by its cover; there is often more to all of us than what we portray on our surface.
Maine North High School, Des Plaines, Illinois
From the moment the first two chords hit, "Don’t You" is one of the most recognizable pop songs in the history of the recording industry. Also at its medium tempo, it is one of the few songs that you have to get up and dance to (or at least bop up and down in your car) whenever it comes on. Heavy on the drums and '80s-style synthesizers, the song brings on a wave of nostalgia to anyone who grew up in the decade (one of the most fashionably confused ever: Kerr wears a blazer with shoulder pads and rolled-up sleeves in the music video). In the lyrics, he asks if you’ll call his name while you’re walking away, implying that the tune is predominately a break-up song. At the very least, it signals a definitive end to something; though not the song’s continued popularity.
Unlike most of their other tunes, Simple Minds didn’t compose "Don’t You." It was written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff, who penned a few of the other Breakfast Club
soundtrack songs. Kerr, who was against recording songs his band didn’t write, has grown to appreciate its (and the film’s) impact on culture. In 2014, he told Songfacts that, “it’s great when things come together and work so well. It's been a pleasure to see how much joy that song gives to a lot of people.”
It’s hard to forget a film with as much impact as The Breakfast Club.
It is often considered one of the quintessential films of the 1980s and one of the best of 1985 (though personally, I think it pales in comparison to Back to the Future
). So even though the city council didn’t listen to Simple Minds, the fans sure did, as this, their title track from the movie, hit number one in both the United States and Canada and continues to find its place on classic rock and mainstream radio stations. Contemporary audiences still can’t seem to get enough of Simple Minds’ best hit song.
~ Justin Novelli
Don't You (Forget About Me) Songfacts
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