Monday, October 17, 2005

Crowespective: I am a golden god

Play it: Rssmbld Sndtrck - Almost Famous
Play it: Almost Famous 101 - Patrick Fugit's lesson
Play it: Almost Famous - LP's young William flips through

The success of Jerry Maguire afforded Cameron Crowe the luxury of finally being able to write the story that he knew best... his own. Almost Famous (originally called, Untitled, but studio nixed idea) is based on his own life story as a teen who gets the opportunity to write for Rolling Stone Magazine and follow an up-and-coming band, Stillwater (the actual group that Crowe first toured with was The Allman Brothers - Gregg Allman kept accusing him of being a narc.)

Not only does he get back to what he knows best (rock journalism and... well... himself) but he also gets to pay tribute to his hero and mentor, Lester Bangs , who is one of the all-time great rock journalists (read Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung and then Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste.)

While LedZep has yet to make themselves digitally available, the rest of the soundtrack is well represented (34 songs - there were 50 total in the film for a music budget of $3.5 million!) and the legends of classic rock that Crowe followed at the time are all there. The Allman Brothers, Free, Black Sabbath, Neil Young, David Bowie, The Guess Who, and of course the Crowemoment of all the folks singing Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" on the bus. It's been rumored Crowe gave actor Patrick Fugit a list of albums to listen to in preparation for his role as William Miller, Crowe's young alter-ego. (Play it: Almost Famous 101 - Patrick Fugit's lesson.) Not surprisingly, this list is similar to the LP's William Miller (Fugit) flips through near the beginning of the movie (Play it: Almost Famous - LP's young William flips through.)

Peter Frampton serves as a guitar consultant (taught Billy Crudup to play,) which is a sort return favor for Crowe writing the liner notes on Frampton Comes Alive! .
Pearl Jam reappears again in the form of guitarist Mike McCready providing the guitar track for Stillwater's songs, and Red House Painters' Mark Kozelek not only plays bass, but appears in the movie as the bass player for Stillwater.

Definitely a movie that's worth many repeated viewings... there are a lot of classic rock references thrown in throughout the film that are easily missed:

The Allman Brothers: The opening scene we briefly see a ticket stub from an Allman Brothers concert. Later, a b&w photo of the fictional band Stillwater echoes the Allman Brothers' famous Live at the Fillmore East album cover. The character Red Dog is named after one of the Allman Brothers' famous roadies.

Led Zeppelin: When Russell (Billy Crudup) cries out, "I am a Golden God!" this is a reference to Robert Plant, who reportedly said the same thing staring over the Sunset Strip. Sapphire (Faruza Balk) says "does anybody remember laughter?" which references a phrase that Plant threw into live performances of "Stairway to Heaven."

The airplane turbulance scene: Russell starts to sing Peggy Sue (referencing Buddy Holly's famous death in a plane crash) and the whole scene references a near-fatal crash Crowe had while travelling with The Who.

When Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) is driving William to the hotel to meet Stillwater, there is a reflection on the windshield that resembles the cover of Pink Floyd's album Dark Side of the Moon.

The shot of the crowd at the start of the first Stillwater concert (with the roses on the stage and fan flashing a peace sign) is based on the cover of Neil Young's Time Fades Away.

Eric Stolz watch: "We broke the streak," says a chagrined Crowe. "We couldn't quite find the right part. I wanted him to be Bowie. I thought that would be great. But I got the word back that I was going in the wrong direction, size-of-part wise." A marquee that would appear when the band's bus came into Cleveland would read: "Coming Aug. 9, Miles Davis. Coming Aug. 10, Gram Parsons. Coming Aug. 11, The Crazy World of Eric Stoltz." "I figured no matter what happens, Eric's in. But we spent too long shooting the "Tiny Dancer" sing-along scene. And I lost the marquee shot." Crowe vows to make up for the oversight in his next movie. "Eric will do a double cameo." (The Uncool)

IMDB's soundtrack listing for Almost Famous

Crowespective: Show me the money (Jerry Maguire)
Crowespective: Love Seattle style (Say Anything, Singles)
Crowespective: Big splash, then big bomb (Fast Times..., The Wild Life)
Crowe, Elizabethtown & MMJ

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Shawn Anderson said...

Rssmbld Sndtrck: Almost Famous

* "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" - Alvin & The Chipmunks
* "America" - Simon & Garfunkel
* "Sparks" - The Who
* "Search And Destroy" - Iggy & The Stooges
* "Paranoid" - Black Sabbath
* "Roundabout" - Yes
* "Your Move " - Yes
* "Feel Flows" - The Beach Boys
* "River" - Joni Mitchell
* "Sweet Leaf" - Black Sabbath
* "Every Picture Tells A Story" - Rod Stewart
* "Easy To Slip" - Little Feat
* "Go All The Way" - The Raspberries
* "Mr. Farmer" - The Seeds
* "One Way Out" - The Allman Brothers Band
* "Albert Flasher" - The Guess Who
* "Simple Man" - Lynyrd Skynyrd
* "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" - Neil Young With Crazy Horse
* "Burn" - Deep Purple
* "Tiny Dancer" - Elton John
* "Dear Jill" - Blodwyn Pig
* "Reeling In The Years" - Steely Dan
* "Looking At You" - Mc5
* "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
* "I'm Waiting For The Man" - David Bowie
* "Slip Away" - Clarence Carter
* "The Wind" - Cat Stevens
* "Wishing Well" - Free (Rock)
* "Peggy Sue" - Buddy Holly
* "Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters" - Elton John
* "Cover Of The Rolling Stone" - Dr. Hook
* "My Cherie Amour" - Stevie Wonder
* "Colour My World" - Chicago
* "Cortez The Killer" - Neil Young/Crazy Horse

Shawn Anderson said...

Almost Famous 101 - Patrick Fugit's lesson

* "God Only Knows" - The Beach Boys
* "White Room" - Cream
* "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" - Crosby, Stills & Nash
* "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" - Miles Davis
* "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" - Bob Dylan
* "Castles Made Of Sand" - Jimi Hendrix
* "A Case Of You" - Joni Mitchell
* "Who Needs The Peace Corps?" - Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention
* "Jumpin' Jack Flash" - The Rolling Stones
* "Oye Como Va" - Santana
* "Pinball Wizard" - The Who

Shawn Anderson said...

Almost Famous - LP's young William flips through

* "God Only Knows" - The Beach Boys
* "Combination Of The Two" - Big Brother and the Holding Company
* "White Room" - Cream
* "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" - Crosby, Stills & Nash
* "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" - Bob Dylan
* "America" - Simon and Garfunkel
* "I Can See For Miles" - The Who
* "Castles Made Of Sand" - Jimi Hendrix
* "Night: Nights In White Satin" - The Moody Blues
* "Pinball Wizard" - The Who

Anonymous said...

In what young william flips through, you forgot Led Zeppelin II.

Shawn Anderson said...

Led Zep isn't available in Rhapsody (nor any digital distribution method.) As a result, it's not in the playlist.