“What do you like about music?”
This has to be one of the most underrated movie dialogue featured in the movie ‘Almost Famous,’ written and directed by Cameron Crowe. It is the story of a teenage journalist who gets a chance to travel and cover a rock band named ‘Stillwater.’ The movie’s soundtrack includes rare songs of some of the greatest artists and is a favourite among many fans.
For this week’s Album Talk we ‘goodfellas’, Narendra Kusnur and I, got on a call to discuss the soundtrack of ‘Almost Famous.’
Note: Language may be altered to suit the platform’s requirements.
Me: The ‘Almost Famous’ movie soundtrack won the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album. All the 17 songs featured on the soundtrack are superb. Apart from them, the additional music which doesnt appear in the original release has gems like Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”, Led Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop”, Deep Purple’s “Burn” and many others.
Kusnur: The first CD had only the credited 17 songs. The friend who recommended this movie said that I will like it as it is about a rock music journalist and a band. Some of the songs in the movie sounded familiar while others were unheard by me. I had heard “America” by Simon & Garfunkel, “Every Picture Tells a Story” by Rod Stewart and one song sounded like Led Zeppelin which was actually one of their rare ones called “That’s the Way.”
Listen to “America”
Me: Zeppelin never permitted their songs to be featured on a soundtrack but made an exception for this movie. Jimmy Page was made to watch the rushes of the movie and he loved it so permitted them to use the song.
Kusnur: There’s also “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John which I had never heard. Apparently the song was quite famous at a time but then faded away. This movie revived the song. Then there was the original song which the band in the movie, Stillwater, plays live.
Me: That was “Fever Dog” by Nancy Wilson.
Kusnur: The soundtrack features some very big bands with largely unknown songs of them. I had heard “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers Band’s “One Way Out” and a couple of others. There were songs by well-known groups which I hadn’t heard, like Beach Boys’ “Feel Flows.” At the time this movie was released, there was a trend of using rock music for movie soundtracks.
Listen to “Simple Man”
Me: This trend picked up in the early 90s and lasted a decade almost.
Kusnur: It started with ‘Forrest Gump.’
Me: ‘School of Rock.’
Kusnur: ‘Wonder Boys’ too.
Me: Just like you, when I first saw this movie, I could relate to the sound and voices on the songs but didn’t really know most of them.
Kusnur: It was a nice move to use rare songs of popular artists.
Listen to “Every Picture Tells a Story”
Me: The soundtrack seems to be a compilation of songs from Side-B which were ’almost famous’.
Kusnur: Except “America” and “Every Picture Tells a Story” maybe.
Me: It’s a stellar line-up which also includes The Who, David Bowie, Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens. Nancy Wilson, Thunderclap Newman, Clarence Carter are the lesser known ones.
Kusnur: They had a limited audience. Nancy sung the original song very well.
Me: The songs have been used quite nicely in the movie narration.
Kusnur: The movie is fully rock’n’roll. Of course we as music journalists, get excited while covering a band or a live gig just like the one in the movie.
Me: There is a dialogue in the movie by the character of rock journalist played by Philip Seymour Hoffman which goes,
“You cannot make friends with the rock stars. That’s what’s important. If you’re a rock journalist – first, you will never get paid much. But you will get free records from the record company. And they will buy you drinks, you will meet girls, they will try to fly you places for free, offer you drugs… I know. It sounds great. But they are not your friends. These are people who want you to write sanctimonious stories about the genius of the rock stars, and they will ruin rock and roll and strangle everything we love about it.”
Kusnur: Even if you aren’t their friend, they will still want you to write only good things about them.
Until next week!