1992 was not only a banner year for movies, it was also a banner year for movie music – more than the Academy Award category for Best Song could adequately capture with only five nominations. They were:
“Beautiful Maria of My Soul” from The Mambo Kings – Music by Robert Kraft; Lyrics by Arne Glimcher
“Friend Like Me” from Aladdin – Music by Alan Menken; Lyrics by Howard Ashman (posthumous nomination)
“I Have Nothing” from The Bodyguard – Music by David Foster; Lyrics by Linda Thompson
“Run to You” from The Bodyguard – Music by Jud Friedman; Lyrics by Allan Rich
“A Whole New World” from Aladdin – Music by Alan Menken; Lyrics by Tim Rice)
That’s all – five songs covering three movies from the year. What else could have been nominated? Below is one idea:
Penny Marshall’s summer blockbuster A League of Their Own is nearly perfect – it’s hilarious and heartwarming throughout, with great leading performances from Geena David and Tom Hanks and a breakout part for Rosie O’Donnell. But you know who else is pretty great in the film? Madonna, as “All the Way” Mae Mordabito. And to no one’s surprise, she also contributed a song to the film, the bittersweet “This Used to Be My Playground,” which she co-wrote with frequent collaborator Shep Pettibone.
The song, in which the speaker revisits sites and scenes from their childhood, was well-received by critics and earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song. It also reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100; it was Madonna’s tenth chart-topping single, and broke her tie with Whitney Houston to become the female artist with the most number one singles at that time. (Of course, later that year, Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” would reinstate that tie and shatter numerous other records, and the film it appeared in, The Bodyguard, would occupy two slots at the Oscars.) The accompanying music video, directed by Alek Keshishian, who had also helmed her Truth or Dare documentary, depicts a man viewing a photo album, as Madonna sings in different settings from within the various pictures intercut with scenes from League.
But wait, there’s more! There’s a second worthy entry on the League soundtrack: Carole King’s equally wistful “Now and Forever,” which ended up becoming a late-career favorite for her fans. The song was originally to play of the film’s end credits, but that was promised to Madonna once she signed, so Marshall had a new opening of the movie written and filmed and put King’s song upfront. Dana Reeve, wife of Christopher Reeve, also memorably performed the song live at Madison Square Garden in honor of New York Rangers hockey player Mark Messier.
This is part of an ongoing series in which I look back at some of the forgotten movie music of 1992.