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Right in to the Danger Zone

Happy Top Gun Day! 30 years ago the amazing, awesome, incredible movie Top Gun was released.

TG poster

Top Gun has a special place in my family’s heart and my own in particular. I remember watching it the for first time with my parents, both of whom were in the Navy (though retired before the film was released). Dad spent many years on aircraft carriers and at the opening scene on the flight deck, he said with a voice full of nostalgia,

“I can still smell the jet fuel.”

That comment has stuck with me, even now almost 30 years later. Dad’s naval career loomed large in our childhood and this little peek into what it was like for him was a piece of treasure for my young imagination. And my mom was stationed at Miramar (where the real Top Gun program was located) when she became pregnant with me, so maybe I’m genetically bound to have a soft spot for this movie. 😀

top gun

Can you imagine anyone else as Maverick? 

I could wax poetic about the film for quite some time, but since this is a music blog, we’ll stick with the awesome soundtrack. The Top Gun Soundtrack was the first album I bought with my own money—appropriately purchased on a military base. This was before I discovered the glories of heavy metal (which happened circa early 1989) and I LOVED this tape. And I STILL love it. What’s not to love?  Kenny Loggins taking us into the Danger Zone and Playing With The Boys (a potent combination! 😉 ), Cheap Trick flying on Mighty Wings, Marietta leading us to a Destination Unknown, Steve Stevens giving us an incredible Anthem, and of course Berlin ready to Take My Breath Away.

Danger Zone has become its own legend and legacy, including being the favorite song of the world’s best (worst?) animated spy, Sterling Archer. You haven’t lived until you’ve asked if you are in a “Zone of Danger”. 🙂  According to the interwebs, Kenny wasn’t the first choice for the song, but I think we are all grateful he was the final choice (can you imagine Toto singing it??)!

Who doesn’t at least momentarily wish they were a fighter pilot every time you hear this song?

While a deep cut on the album, Marietta’s Destination Unknown is such a perfect song for the movie (and yes, the decade – super ‘80s vibe) that also resonates with me on a personal level. More than once, I’ve followed the lure of the unknown destination and this song reminds me that sometimes you gotta take risks (preferably with the appropriate soundtrack).

Steve Stevens, the well-coiffed and prolific guitarist, has, in addition to rockin’ the Top Gun Anthem, spent several decades as Billy Idol’s guitar player and collaborated with some other artists you may have heard of, including Michael Jackson, Robert Palmer, P!nk, Joni Mitchell (!), and Vince Neil. I bet you can’t help but sing along with this. Bum-bum-bum-budah-budah-bum-bum…

Cheap Trick
(do they need an introduction?) brought us Mighty Wings, which ran over the credits, making even a rolling list of names exhilarating. I know I feel a raging fire in my heart tonight.

, who actually did have modest success with other songs, brought us the “Love Theme”. The video for Take My Breath Away is at 16 million views and counting—a tribute to the appeal of the song and probably the appeal of Tom and Kelly in the video (sigh). Like the rest of the soundtrack, it is impossible to separate the songs from the movie and this song has become shorthand for quick, passionate (possibly illicit) romance.

And one for the road. The Righteous Brothers always set the mood, don’t they? (I absolutely couldn’t resist!)


Thank you for joining me on this journey into the Danger Zone and down memory lane!


For those who are feeling the need…the need for speed:

The movie is available for streaming currently with Amazon Prime and purchase via iTunes.

The soundtrack is available for streaming on Spotify, for purchase and streaming on Amazon, and purchase on iTunes.