Fast Times at Ridgemont High was released on August 13, 1982. Cameron Crowe wrote the book after going undercover at a San Diego High School and later the screenplay for the film. At the time Crowe went underground, he was twenty-two. Yet, Crowe looked young and was able to stay undercover at Clairemont High School for a year. This film was the first time he’d written a script. Later, he went on to write and direct Say Anything in 1989. Some thought this movie was semi-autobiographical, like Crowe’s later film, Almost Famous. After all, many of the things that happened in Fast Times at Ridgemont High Seemed to mirror Crowes’ life as the youngest Rolling Stones music journalist. This was Amy Heckerling’s directorial debut. She later went on to write and direct Clueless. She was not the film’s first choice for director. The studio wanted David Lynch.
However, it was under Heckerling’s direction the movie came to life. The film chronicles the year of high school students Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Linda (Phoebe Cates), Mark (Brian Backer), and Mike (Robert Romanus). Many actors in the movie were unknowns who later were blockbuster successes; Nicolas Cage, Forest Whitaker, Judge Reinhold, Eric Stoltz, and Anthony Edwards. Fast Times at Ridgemont High was Sean Penn’s second movie. Yet, he played Jeff Spicoli, a burnout surfer who stole many of the scenes in the film. Another thing that made the movie a standout was its soundtrack. According to Eighties Kids, most movies have some portions that are instrumental on the soundtrack. However, Fast Times At Ridgemont High is starting to finish classic rock or rock songs famous in 1982 and remains the only soundtrack. It was Irving Azhoff who made this decision. He wanted the movie to stay true to the script and the lives of the teenagers in it. Azoff wasn’t just the producer; he was also the manager of performers like The Eagles and Stevie Nicks.
He used that influence to convince musical artists to write original songs for the movie. Additionally, Azhoff was able to bring in acts like the Go-Gos, who director Amy Heckerling loved. Since Cameron Crowe was one of the music journalists for Rolling Stone, he was also able to bring in several other performers. Even though the soundtrack featured nineteen songs, many others played during the movie, if only for 30 or so seconds. These including American Girl by Tom Petty, We Got the Beat by The Go-Gos, and Kashmir by Led Zeppelin. One song, Fast Times, was written by Heart and never used in the film. It was later released on their album Private Auditions. The songs on the list are all on the official soundtrack. These are the five best songs from the Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
5. Fast Times at Ridgemont High – Sammy Hagar
This song is played when Jeff Spicoli and Jefferson’s brother are driving down the street, smoking marijuana. Since they’re not paying attention, they crash the car into a massive pile of cement blocks. Spicolli tries to convince him that he can fix the car even though it’s completely totaled.
4. Waffle Stomp – Joe Walsh
The character of Brad is on his way to deliver food from the fish and chips restaurant where he works. Part of his uniform is wearing a pirate costume. On his way to deliver the order, he is listening to this song. He later quits the job when he is laughed at for the ensemble. The woman who laughed at him was Nancy Wilson, who later married Cameron Crowe.
3. I Don’t Know (Spicoli’s Theme) – Jimmy Buffet
Mr. Vargas is passing out failing test scores right before this song starts playing. Of course, Jeff Spicoli is running late to class. He comes into the category of making an entrance. When he is asked why he is late for class, he says I don’t know. Mr. Vargas makes production of writing it on the board. Since the scene is such a standout, it’s only natural that his theme song would be the words Mr. Varagas wrote on the chalkboard. Moreover, Jimmy Buffet was the best choice to write his theme song because his entire catalog of songs is for surfers and people with a laid-back view of life.
2. Sleeping, Angel – Stevie Nicks
This song was played during one of the movie’s most poignant scenes. One of the characters in the film, Stacey (Jennifer Jason Leigh), has sex for the first time and gets pregnant. Her boyfriend Mike (Rober Romanus) does not show even though he said he’d drive her to an abortion clinic. Even though the song is quite moving, much of the music was a segue into teenage revenge when Linda (Phoebe Cates) spraypaint expletives on Mike’s car and locker.
1. Somebody’s Baby – Jackson Browne
According to Rhino Insider, this song was the biggest hit from the movie. Jackson Browne had the song’s refrain and the music to accompany it but was lost on what direction to take the piece. He talked to Danny Kortchamar since they were both mutual friends of Cameron Crowe. When Kortchamar took a look, he saw a great song that was highly different from Anything Jackson Browne had recorded. Together, they reworked the music, and it became an instant hit. In fact, it was the only single from the movie that charted, peaking at number seven on the Hot 100. Even though the song was extremely popular, Browne declined to put it on his next album since it didn’t fit with the rest of his catalog. When he looks back, he realized t was a mistake.