Rocker John Waite went to the movies in Los Angeles a couple of days ago to see Warm Bodies. His 1984 hit “Missing You” plays during a pivotal part of the Jonathan Levine film–a moment where the action shifts from the terrifying to the tender. “I was really very pleased,” says Waite. “It’s a great movie.”
For those who haven’t yet seen it, the movie is based on the Isaac Marion novel of the same name and takes place after an unnamed catastrophe has obliterated much of the planet, leaving behind a population of zombies. One in particular, R (Nicholas Hoult) eats the brains of Julie’s (Teresa Palmer) boyfriend, ingests his memories, and falls in love with her. Because he’s a zombie he can only grunt and groan, so music plays an important part in the wooing process. The soundtrack for the film is filled with welcome surprises: “Patience” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Hungry Heart” by Bruce Springsteen, “Rock You Like Hurricane” by the Scorpions and “Midnight City” by M83.
But, says Jonathan Levine, the “Missing You” addition almost didn’t happen. “I’d love to take credit for this, usually I do for music but that’s something my music editor put in. I’ll take credit for liking it,” says Levine, who had written “I Remember You” by Skid Row into the script for that scene. But, he says, “It didn’t work rhythmically and we put [“Missing You”] in and everything just clicked.”
Waite says that he wrote the lyrics to the number one song in about ten minutes. “I took the first line of the song from a baby’s song–every time I think of you–to get me going,” he says. “Then I wrote the entire thing without stopping. It was a magical thing that happens when you’re flying. I think that’s why it has some wings–it’s unpretentious. This all sounds rather lofty but it really was from the heart.”
Funny then that it should appear during a zombie movie where brains are eaten and machine guns are aplenty? “Well, you know, breakups usually do involve machine guns,” Waite says with a laugh. “I never would have thought of using that song but it was so poignant and maybe that’s why it was–because it was so unexpected.”
Waite, now 60, says his mother in England is going to see Warm Bodies in his old hometown. “She hasn’t been to the pictures in 15 years,” he says. “But she’s going tomorrow.”