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It’s far and few the number of times a song can define a generation — and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s ‘If You Leave” did just that.

From the brilliant mind of Chicago’s very own, John Hughes, ‘Pretty in Pink’ is a movie that defined a generation in the mid-80s with its coming-of-age story both on screen, and musically. The song sets the stage for the iconic ending of the movie at a high school prom.

The most interesting fact about that song and scene is that it almost didn’t happen.

According to OMD’s Paul Humphreys, it was a last-minute request from John Hughes.

“He asked us to write a song for Pretty in Pink, we spent months writing and working on it. We flew to Los Angeles with our reel of tape of our recording of the song. We had a couple of days to mix it and then we were to start a massive American Tour. We landed (and this is before cell phones) and we had a message at the hotel saying “John Hughes, call me, call me” and so we called him from the hotel and he said ‘I’m sorry guys, but I changed the whole ending of the film and your song doesn’t work, can you write us a new one?’ and I was like are you kidding me?,” said Humphreys.

“We haven’t slept, we straight to a studio and went 24 hours basically writing a new song, we wrote ‘If You Leave’ off the cuff and quickly demoed it, sent it John, went to bed, four hours later we get a call from Hughes saying ‘Yeah, love it, get back in the studio and record it,'” said Humphryes.

“If You Leave” single from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack

“If You Leave” reached No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and was a prom soundtrack for generations that followed. People often wonder what was the song it replaced in the movie. That dubious honor belongs to OMD’s “Goddess of Love.”

OMD has enjoyed the success of that song and many others as they celebrate their 40th-anniversary. With over 40 million records sold, 40 years in the music business, and a new album in the works, OMD is back out on the road this year, landing in Chicago on May 6th at the Rivera Theatre.


For tickets to the show or to learn more about the band’s storied history, click here.

For more Chicago Scene fun, follow @tomwgnchicago on Instagram.