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How does a song by the quirky ‘80s band Fishbone figure into one of the most iconic scenes in movie history?
Music can make a movie scene memorable as much as acting, lighting, or costumes. Some scenes are so associated with a certain song that it’s crazy to think that that song was not the first choice of the filmmakers. Imagine Casablanca without “As Time Goes By,” for example, or The Muppet Movie without “Rainbow Connection.” Or Cameron Crowe’s 1989 romantic comedy Say Anything without Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) standing outside of his lost love Diane Court’s (Ione Skye) window, hoisting a boombox playing “their song”: Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”
The romantic, soulful song is such a perfect fit…but it wasn’t the song Crowe, a former music journalist, intended. He wrote the scene to fit with Billy Idol’s 1986 song “To Be a Lover.” But when Crowe and Cusack started filming the scene, they realized that it didn’t work for the moment—or the movie—at all.
It’s got romantic lyrics…but it’s a dance-pop song. So, the crew of Say Anything shot the soon to be famous “boombox scene” with Cusack hoisting the boombox over his head and playing something even more inexplicable and inappropriate: “Bonin’ in the Boneyard,” a fast-tempo, upbeat Prince-esque song by the quirky L.A. band Fishbone.
Unsurprisingly, that song didn’t work well either. As Crowe told Moviefone in 2011, Cusack’s character didn’t seem passionate or romantic, but “like a crazed Fishbone fan who just happened to be outsider her window.” He ultimately went with “In Your Eyes,” a massive hit from 1987 for Peter Gabriel.
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