Back to the Future Part III Soundtrack Tracks in Order of Appearance

Warning: geekery ahead.

For some reason, the tracks on the soundtrack for Back to the Future Part III do not appear in the order in which they appear in the movie. They’re in movie order on the Part II soundtrack, but for some reason that’s not the case with Part III. I guess when they put together the Part III soundtrack, the producers thought the tracks sounded better in a different order.

But sometimes you just want to experience the movie through the music, and you want to hear the tracks in order. So I’ve managed (I think) to figure out the order in which the Part III tracks appear in the movie:

1 – Main Title
6 – Indians
3 – Hill Valley
4 – The Hanging
14 – We’re Out of Gas
12 – Doc to the Rescue
5 – At First Sight
17 – Doubleback
13 – The Kiss
10 – The Future Isn’t Written
7 – Goodbye Clara
15 – Wake Up Juice
11 – The Showdown
16 – A Science Experiment? (The Train Part I)
2 – It’s Clara (The Train Part II)
9 – Point of No Return (The Train Part III)
8 – Doc Returns
18 – End Credits

If you own the soundtrack, you can create a playlist of the tracks in the above order on iTunes or whatnot. Then you can just close your eyes and imagine your way from 1955 to 1885, and then back to good ol’ 1985.

I’m posting this in case anyone happens to Google the title of this post or something similar. I did my own Google search and couldn’t find anything.

Sick, and Catching Up

Blogging has been light lately. As I wrote previously, I started to feel sick shortly after we landed at LaGuardia at the end of our vacation. Over the past week I’ve nursed a pretty terrible cold: scratchy throat, then laryngitis, then congestion and coughing. Plus a low fever that lasted two or three days. Friday seemed to be the peak; I’ve slowly been getting better since then. I’m sure I caught it from Matt, since he got sick a couple of days before we left for Disney World and was coughing almost the entire time we were there, and we shared a water bottle the whole week (there was some kissing, too). I worked mostly from home last week and barely left the apartment, except for two nights when I dragged myself out because we had theater tickets (Middletown at the Vineyard, and A Free Man of Color at Lincoln Center). And yesterday our building’s fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate for about 90 minutes because they couldn’t figure out how to turn off the alarm.

Except for the fire alarm, this weekend was all about chilling out: exploring the new Back to the Future trilogy Blu-Ray set, reading a Walt Disney biography, reading the paper, doing crosswords, and watching TV. Last night we caught up on the last four weeks of Brothers & Sisters. Oh, Kevin and Scotty: such drama, you two.

Anyway, I look forward to getting better soon and not coughing anymore.

25 Years of Time Travel

Twenty-five years ago today, on October 26, 1985, Marty McFly went back in time. (The movie was released during the summer of 1985, but it was set in October.)

In honor of this event, the Back to the Future trilogy is being released on Blu-Ray today. I’ve ordered my copy and it should arrive later this week.

Also, last night and this past Saturday, there were special showings of the original film in actual movie theaters. I wish I’d been able to go! We had plans last night, and Saturday was our last day at Disney World. We could have seen it at the movie theater at Downtown Disney, but that wasn’t how I wanted to spend my last day there. Still, it would have been so great to see it on the big screen again. I vividly remember the first time I saw it in the theater — I chewed my soda straw in two during the climactic clock tower scene.

Happy time travel anniversary!

Happy 25th Anniversary, Back to the Future

I couldn’t let today go by without pointing this out.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the theatrical release of Back to the Future, my favorite movie of all time.

Here’s the original New York Times review, from 25 years ago today, July 3, 1985.

A few days ago, Universal Studios announced that they’ll be releasing the trilogy on Blu-Ray this fall — on October 26, 2010, the 25th anniversary of the day in 1985 that Marty McFly goes back in time.

I saw the movie twice during the summer of 1985, and since then I’ve seen it more times than I can count. I can recite almost every line of the movie in its proper intonation.

Sam: Ho ho ho, look at it roll! Now we can watch Jackie Gleason while we eat!

Lorraine: It’s our first television set. Dad just picked it up today… do you have a television?

Marty: Well, yeah, you know, we have… two of them.

Milton: Wow, you must be rich!

Stella: Oh honey, he’s teasing you, nobody has two television sets.

(Ralph Kramden appears on the TV screen in his space costume.)

Marty: Hey, hey, I’ve seen this one, I’ve seen this one! This is a classic! This is where Ralph dresses up as the man from space.

Milton: What do you mean you’ve seen this? It’s brand new.

Marty: Yeah well, I saw it on a… rerun.

Milton: What’s a rerun?


Marty: You’ll find out.

Thanks to Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale and Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd and Alan Silvestri and everyone else for creating something I’ll enjoy for the rest of my life.

Childhood Idol

What would you do if you encountered one of your childhood idols?

Last night, Matt and I went to the Public Theater to see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, a terrific, rocking, sexy show. Before we went to our seats, I went to use the restroom… and I was leaving the restroom, Michael J. Fox walked in.

Now, to understand how I feel about Michael J. Fox, you will have to remember that Back to the Future is my favorite movie ever. I’ve been in love with that movie ever since I saw it in the theater as a kid, 25 years ago. I know Michael J. Fox is not really Marty McFly, but to me he always will be. And before Back to the Future, there was Family Ties, a show I always enjoyed. And after Back to the Future, there were several other movies and another TV show, and then he went public with having Parkinson’s disease, which only made me admire him more. He’s also written a few books (which I’ll admit I haven’t read), including a new one that just came out last month.

Last week he did a hilarious cameo on The Colbert Report. So I guess he must be in New York for a little while.

So anyway, after I left the restroom, I said to Matt, “Did you know who was in there? Michael J. Fox!” I wasn’t sure if he was seeing the same show as us, because the Public has a few different theaters in the building. But after we went into our theater and took our seats, I kept turning around to see if he walked in.

Sure enough, he soon did… and he sat down at the end of our row.

The Newman Theater at the Public isn’t very big — 300 seats. The last time we were there, Stephen Sondheim sat behind us.

I think Fox was with someone (his wife?), but I’m not sure, because I didn’t want to be too glaringly obvious and lean forward and stare at him.

My dilemma then began. I hate being the type of person who goes up to celebrities and says hello. But he’s not just a celebrity to me. He’s one of my heroes. This was an opportunity to go up to one of my heroes and say hello and tell him how much I’ve admired him since I was a kid. It was just a few minutes before 8:00, when the lights go down and the show starts, and there was no intermission. So I had to decide quickly.

And… I wound up staying in my seat. I was too nervous. I wouldn’t know what to say, and I didn’t want to sound stupid, and I didn’t want to disturb him and his privacy.

So I missed my chance to say hi to Michael J. Fox.

When the show ended and the lights came up, I looked at the end of the row… and there were two empty seats. He and his theater companion were already gone, probably having slipped out unobtrusively during the curtain calls.


Pink Noise

In movies, it seems there is an ideal distribution of the length of shots that most closely approximates how the human mind perceives things. The ideal distribution is known as 1/f, or pink noise. Psychologists analyzed 150 popular movies released from 1935 to 2005 for their shot patterns.

The movie that most closely approached 1/f? Back to the Future.

Back to the Future Score Release

I received a real treat in the mail yesterday.

As some of you might know, Back to the Future is my favorite movie of all time. I fell in love with it at first sight in the movie theater in the summer of 1985. I was 11 years old and I went to see it with my best friend, and I was so tense during the climactic clocktower scene near the end of the movie that I literally chewed my plastic soda straw in two.

The film has a terrific score by Alan Silvestri, but the soundtrack album that came out in 1985 contains only two tracks of that score: the theme and an “overture,” which consists of several cues strung together to give a dramatic overview of the movie. The rest of the tracks are pop songs from the movie, like “The Power of Love.” It’s a fun album, but fans have wanted a release of the complete score for years. A bootleg of much of the score has been around for a while, but it’s of inferior quality and some things are missing.

BTTF Intrada releaseAnd then a couple of weeks ago, out of the blue, Intrada Records, a company specializing in movie and TV soundtracks, announced that it was releasing the complete score of the movie, made from the multi-track scoring session masters held by Universal Studios. It’s a 2-CD release: the first disc is the complete score, and the second disc is an earlier version of the score before changes were made. I ordered my copy and it arrived yesterday. In addition to the discs, it has a 24-page booklet with information about the movie, the music, and the recording, as well as several photo stills from the film.

I listened to the first disc yesterday and I was in heaven. It’s been almost a 25-year wait, and I’m so happy to have this now. Thanks, Intrada!

TV History

TV Book

My previous post got me thinking about how much I love TV history.

When I was a kid growing up in the ’80s, I was really interested in old TV shows. My vision of the 1950s was filled with black-and-white nuclear families; my vision of the 1960s had Technicolor housewives with secret magic powers living in leafy suburbs. And everyone from the Cleavers to Major Nelson and his genie lived in classical American homes. There was no segregation or Cold War or Joe McCarthy, no Vietnam or civil rights marches: just tidy families resolving problems in 30 minutes or less.

One day when I was 11 or 12, I was at a shopping center with my dad. We were in one of those all-purpose stores like Wal-Mart, except we didn’t have Wal-Mart in New Jersey, so maybe it was Caldor? Channel? I was browsing through the book section when I saw an enormous paperback that caught my eye: The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh.

I was enthralled. I had no idea such a book existed! It had every show, in alphabetical order, with first and last broadcast dates, regular airtimes, cast lists, and several paragraphs describing the show. For each year it also had the prime-time fall TV schedule, top-rated shows for each year, and Emmy winners in the major categories.

I bought it right then and there. In the internet era, books like this are practically obsolete, but I still have my copy. They’re up to the ninth edition now, but I could never bear to part with my edition, for nostalgic reasons.

And if you want a great summary of TV history, here’s the introduction to the latest edition, including “The Eight Eras
of Prime Time,” and this list of the number of Westerns on TV by year:

Number of Westerns in Prime Time, by Season

1955–1956: 9
1956–1957: 11
1957–1958: 20
1958–1959: 31
1959–1960: 30
1960–1961: 26
1961–1962: 16
1962–1963: 13
1963–1964: 8
1964–1965: 7

My concept of postwar American history has become more complicated since I was a kid, but I still have a soft spot for the ’50s and ’60s and all that Atomic-Age TV stuff, and I still love TV history.

No wonder “Back to the Future” has always been my favorite movie and always will be.

Courthouse Square

More on Courthouse Square, destroyed by fire yesterday at Universal Studios:

It was where Robert Zemeckis shot the electrifying clock-tower climax with Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future.” It was also the courthouse backdrop for Gregory Peck’s Oscar-winning performance in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” …

Fans of the old television series “Leave It to Beaver” may recognize the courthouse facade as where the Beav went to school.

And before it was called Courthouse Square, thanks to its use in the “Back to the Future” movies, the area was known as Mockingbird Square because of its extensive use in the 1962 adaptation of the Harper Lee novel.

The Hill Valley clock tower was added to the courthouse for “Back to the Future,” but over the years, filmmakers have removed the clock and redressed the buildings for several films, including Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds,” plus “Bruce Almighty” and “The Cat in the Hat.” It was also used in the 1960s musicals “Bye Bye Birdie” (it was where pop star Conrad Birdie performed to his adoring female fans) and “The Music Man” (as the locale of the “76 Trombones” parade finale).

Courthouse Square was one of the standing sets of the current CBS paranormal drama “Ghost Whisperer.”

Crystal Skull

We saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull last night. (Spoilers below, after the jump, although they only involve stuff from the first part of the movie.)

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved that it was in many ways a throwback to 1980s movie-making, which is what Spielberg intended, as he said in Vanity Fair a few months ago:

Rather than update the franchise to match current styles, Lucas and Spielberg decided to stay true to the prior films’ look, tone, and pace. During pre-production, Spielberg watched the first three Indiana Jones movies at an Amblin screening room with Janusz Kaminski, who has shot the director’s last 10 films. He replaces Douglas Slocombe, who shot the first three Indy movies (and is now retired at age 94), as the man mainly responsible for the film’s look. “I needed to show them to Janusz,” Spielberg says, “because I didn’t want Janusz to modernize and bring us into the 21st century. I still wanted the film to have a lighting style not dissimilar to the work Doug Slocombe had achieved, which meant that both Janusz and I had to swallow our pride. Janusz had to approximate another cinematographer’s look, and I had to approximate this younger director’s look that I thought I had moved away from after almost two decades.”

Spielberg promises no tricky editing for the new one, saying, “I go for geography. I want the audience to know not only which side the good guy’s on and the bad guy’s on, but which side of the screen they’re in, and I want the audience to be able to edit as quickly as they want in a shot that I am loath to cut away from. And that’s been my style with all four of these Indiana Jones pictures. Quick-cutting is very effective in some movies, like the Bourne pictures, but you sacrifice geography when you go for quick-cutting. Which is fine, because audiences get a huge adrenaline rush from a cut every second and a half on The Bourne Ultimatum, and there’s just enough geography for the audience never to be lost, especially in the last Bourne film, which I thought was the best of the three. But, by the same token, Indy is a little more old-fashioned than the modern-day action adventure.”

Spoilers follow.
Continue reading


Here are some musings that are not very well organized or polished, are probably naive, and might seem silly to anyone else but me. But I want to get them down.

I was having weird thoughts the other day about television, popular culture, and the passage of time, and particularly, for some reason, the vast gulf between the years 1977 and 1983. This was triggered by these compilations of TV show openings that I discovered on Sunday morning, especially the ones from the early 80s.

Why 1977 and 1983? Perhaps because of the nice symmetry — three years on either side of 1980.

In 1977, we were in the Carter era. In 1983, we were in the Reagan era.

In 1977, “Star Wars” came out. In 1983, we had “Return of the Jedi.” (Side note: a long time ago I found an online list of pop-cultural touchstones – “you know you’re a child of the 80s if…”, or something like that. One of the touchstones: when you saw “Star Wars,” you noticed all the cool spaceships. By the time you saw “Return of the Jedi,” you noticed Princess Leia’s breasts or Han Solo’s tight black pants. I was a little too young for that, being just nine years old for most of 1983.)

It’s weird that most of the TV shows we associate with the ’70s were still on the air in the early ’80s, and aging: Three’s Company, The Jeffersons, Alice, One Day at a Time, Happy Days, Benson, The Love Boat. Inga Swenson’s ’70s bowl cut was replaced by a chic, short ’80s do, and she and Benson were still trading insults. I can’t think of many ’80s shows that lasted into the early ’90s, but for some reason there’s this big ’70s-’80s overlap.

In 1977 there was disco. In 1983, there were personal computers. Remember those Charlie-Chaplinesque commercials for the IBM PC? Disco and PCs seem to belong to totally different eras.

In 1977, gay people seemed to live in a paradise. I think of Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City.” But by 1983, AIDS had begun to destroy the gay community. On the other side of 1980 lay devastation. My fourth-grade mustachioed math teacher (1983-84) would one day die of AIDS.

In 1977, the big thing in television was jiggle TV. Sex abounded. By the early ’80s, the conservative Reagan era was beginning to take hold and kids and families were coming to dominate TV sitcoms again. Diff’rent Strokes, Silver Spoons, The Facts of Life, and Gimme a Break were essentially about blended or nontraditional families; soon the nuclear family would make a comeback with The Cosby Show and Growing Pains, and Family Ties, already on the air in 1982, would become a big hit. Early-80’s TV, with its kid-filled sitcoms, seemed tailor-made for my age group; what would kids have watched in the late ’70s? The Fonz? Laverne & Shirley? (My own kid-centric experience of the early ’80s is no doubt distorting things. There were probably shows of both eras that don’t fit this mold. See Cheers.)

All of these long transitional years led up to what is, for me, the quintessential ’80s year: 1985. In 1985, my friends and I were in fifth grade, the highest grade in the elementary school, so we were sort of the equivalent of high school seniors and felt cool. My favorite movie, “Back to the Future,” came out that year. I discovered comic books. “We are the World” was the big pop-cultural thing and made us all feel happy and uplifted because, if we put our minds together, we could end world hunger!

I think the greatest year of childhood is the final year before you hit puberty. You’ve come to know who you are as a kid; your brain has developed far enough along that you can understand things well; and hormones haven’t yet begun to mess with everything you’ve come to be. In 1977, when I was three years old, we’d moved to the suburbs and into our New Jersey house. By 1985, I was 11. I’d lived in that house in that idyllic suburban town for eight years. It was home, and familiar; I’d grown comfortable in my skin and my school; I’d come to know who I was.

Over the next 2-3-4 years, it all changed. The decade aged. I went on to middle school, I was forced to skip a grade, I started to have troubling sexual feelings. In 1986, Iran Contra would damage the Reagan image and I’d discover “Saturday Night Live,” with its cynical skewering of politicians. In 1987, the stock market would crash. The ’80s seemed to go on forever, but everything after, say, 1986 didn’t feel like the ’80s to me anymore. By 1987, the ’80s were past their prime, like Christmas lights on December 29th. The ’80s for me basically ended in 1985.

I love the idea of people living at the end of the ’70s, on the cusp of the ’80s, not knowing what was in store. Hedonism would be replaced by conservatism. Self-actualization would be replaced by money. Wide neckties would be replaced by skinny ties. Disco clubs would be replaced by clubs where Wall Street Masters-of-the-Universe types would order expensive bottles of champagne.

Every decade grows old and encrusted before the people who have lived it move en masse into the next era. The people of 1977 found themselves living in a different world six years later — just as the people of 1997 would barely recognize the mood of 2003 (with the intervening impeachment, election recount, dot-com crash, and massive terrorist attack).

Ah, the passage of time.

BTTF Trilogy Chronology

As a huge Back to the Future fanboy, I can’t believe November 5, 2005 passed without my realizing its significance: it was the 50th anniversary of Doc Brown’s invention of time travel and Marty McFly’s arrival in 1955.

As a belated honor, here (because I just discovered it) is: Back to the Future: A Trilogy Chronology. In addition to a detailed minute-by-minute chronology – chock-full of notes, quotes, goofs, references, and detailed information about certain text-filled frames (such as the listings of a 1955 phone book page and the text of the front page of a 2015 copy of USA Today) – the page also has other BTTF goodies, such as Where’s the DeLorean Now?, an analysis of how many time-travelling DeLoreans exist at any given moment in time. (I’ve actually thought about that before.)

And I thought I was obsessive.


Matt and I have been getting into this new TV show on Fox called Reunion. After two episodes, it’s already become a guilty pleasure for me. Reunion is a one-hour drama that follows a group of six friends over the course of 20 years, from their high school graduation in 1986 to the present day. Each episode covers a subsequent year in the characters’ lives. Interspersed with all the flashbacks is a present-day mystery: one of the six friends has been murdered – we don’t yet know who, or by whom – and a detective is investigating it. We’ve already seen the detective interview two of the friends in their present-day, late-30s incarnations, so we know they weren’t the ones killed.

The show has an interesting structure. Most TV dramas have a continuity of action from week to week, but because each episode of this show takes place approximately a year later than the previous one, you need to play catch-up. Or, rather, the writers need to catch us up – each episode has to work in some exposition without being clunky. So far, it succeeds.

In last week’s episode, it’s 1987, and at one point, some of the characters are hanging out in Manhattan. At the beginning of one scene, we get an establishing shot of the night skyline. There, of course, are the Twin Towers, brightly gleaming against the dark sky. I had to pause the recording and stare at the image for a few seconds before I was able to move on.

One of the themes of the show was stated by one character last week: every day, we make choices that could affect our lives for years to come. No news there, of course, but it’s a theme that resonates with me. I’ve always been interested in the passage of time and how our lives change as the years go by. (See Back to the Future.)

Reunion has lots of typical soapy TV melodrama that you can find all over, say, the WB. But the structure – the flashbacks and the murder mystery – compel me to watch. And I will be watching.

Happy New Year

Happy 2005.

Welcome to the second half of the ’00s. The first half is over already! I can’t believe it.

“Back to the Future” is 20 years old. (So are these movies.) And in ten years, Marty McFly will arrive in Hill Valley in a flying DeLorean. That’s right, only ten more years at most before we get our flying cars.

So, 1980 was twenty-five years ago and 1955 was fifty years ago. Yeesh.

Anyway, I’m feeling better today. I’ve had an ear infection (not a sinus infection), and I couldn’t hear out of my left ear very well for a few days, but thanks to antibiotics I’m nearly back to normal again. Matt and I had a low-key New Year’s — we went out for dinner and then came back and watched the ball drop on TV. Half an hour later, we went to bed. Yeah, we were pretty lame.

I don’t have much to say today — I just wanted to see an entry dated January 1, 2005.

Happy New Year!

BTTF and 9/11

Yesterday afternoon, I turned on the TV and realized that my all-time favorite movie, “Back to the Future,” was on TNT, so I watched it until the end. At one point in the movie, Marty McFly is writing Doc Brown a letter to warn him that in the future he’ll be shot and killed. As he writes, he speaks the words aloud: “On the night that I go back in time, you will be shot and killed by terrorists.” But in the TNT version yesterday, he said, “On the night that I go back in time, you will be shot.” The rest of the sentence is cut out. And the phrase is even blanked out when the camera shows his words on the page. I couldn’t believe it. I found a couple of message board threads about it, and apparently that’s not the only 9/11-related cut.

Thank goodness for DVDs.

(By the way, whenever I see the phrase “” I automatically think of “buttfuck.”)

TV Anniversary Specials

Last night I watched ABC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration on TV. (Actually, I was out for the first half of it, so I taped it and watched most of it last night.) I’m a sucker for those big TV nostalgia-fests. This one wasn’t spectacular — it was awkwardly edited and had pointless, incomplete cast reunions — but it was filled with lots of great TV clips. I think ABC’s heyday was in the late ’70s and early ’80s, when it ran escapist sitcoms like “Happy Days” and “Mork & Mindy” and fun shows like “Eight is Enough” and “The Greatest American Hero.” I’m too young to remember that era very well, but these are the memories I have manufactured for myself, and isn’t that what nostalgia’s all about?

The best network anniversary special I’ve ever seen was NBC’s 60th Anniversary Celebration, a three-hour show broadcast on a Sunday night in May 1986. I still have it on tape somewhere, and I used to watch it all the time. The whole thing was liberally sprinkled with clips from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. There were a few radio excerpts, but I guess radio doesn’t translate very well to TV. Different NBC celebrities introduced each segment, but the main hosts were Malcolm Jamal-Warner and Keshia Knight-Pulliam, a.k.a. Theo and Rudy of “The Cosby Show,” NBC’s big hit at the time. They travelled through the NBC studios at 30 Rockefeller Center, and there was a musical number in the lobby of the building, with all the singers and dances dressed as NBC tour guides, wearing navy blue jackets with the NBC logo and khaki pants or skirts. And the musical number included a woman dressed as the NBC Peacock. You really had to see it.

There was an entire segment consisting of clips from “Saturday Night Live.” Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley hosted a segment on the history of “The Today Show.” Deidre Hall of “Days of Our Lives” and Pat Sajak of “Wheel of Fortune” hosted a segment on NBC daytime. Barbara Eden of “I Dream of Jeannie” appeared on a stage decorated as a big suburban home to host a loving segment on NBC sitcoms. Michael Landon of “Little House on the Prairie” did Westerns. Michael J. Fox did something. There were segments on variety shows, cop shows, news, TV movies, sports programming, children’s television, and so on. There was an even a segment that had various NBC logos morphing into each other.

The whole thing was really quite cheesy and wonderful. I have to find that tape.

I love the 1950s, or at least the 1950s as I used to see them, filtered through movies and television. I used to fantasize about going back in time to the ’50s and wandering through an empty suburban house on a random weekday, when the kids were at school and the father was at work and the wife was out shopping with her wifely friends. Nobody would be home, so I could sit on 1950s furniture and watch cheesy 1950s game shows and soap operas, and then I could go outside and wander along the suburban streets filled with big Chevys, kids on tricycles, and leafy black-and-white trees.

It should be no surprise that “Back to the Future” is one of my all-time favorite movies.

We all need a little escapism, right?