November 1985: Echo & the Bunnymen Release SONGS TO LEARN & SING
By 1985, UK post-punk band Echo & the Bunnymen were already a cult sensation in America. The group's most recent album at the time, Ocean Rain, had even cracked the Billboard 200, reaching as high as #87 on the strength of singles like "The Killing Moon" and "Seven Seas."
While mainstream success in the States proved elusive, the group's underground status was huge, with the band playing packed theaters full of trench coat-wearing fans eager to soak up the majestic musical melancholia and singer Ian McCulloch's moody vocal styling.
On November 11, 1985, Echo & the Bunnymen capitalized on that growing fame with Songs to Learn & Sing, a collection of the group's singles from their four previous studio LPs.
The singles collection arrived with a new song: "Bring on the Dancing Horses." Elegantly produced, the track smoothed over some of Echo & the Bunnymen's more abrasive edges with swelling strings and layers of synths. The tune proved to be something of Trojan Horse, as it was slated for the soundtrack to John Hughes' instantly classic teen movie, Pretty in Pink. It generated a slew of new fans for the band, many of whom snapped up Songs to Learn & Sing as larger crowds clamored to see the band perform live. The placement helped Songs to Learn & Sing crack the Top 200, peaking at #158.
"It's about the way people would sooner look at statues than themselves. We revere things that tell us about ourselves," McCulloch told Songfacts about the "Bring on the Dancing Horses." "It's that thing of how we think art is very important. A life without art, who knows what that would be like? We think the Mona Lisa is this thing that's valuable, when something else isn't."