As the only major movie writer-director who used to be a rock journalist, Cameron Crowe boasts better soundtrack-compiling qualifications than most. His 1992 Singles gave America its premier grunge sampler. But for Jerry Maguire, he and music supervisor Danny Bramson stuck mostly with classic rockers, albeit with an ear toward obscurities (his having written Biograph’s liner notes didn’t hurt in unvaulting a Dylan outtake). The only new solicitations went to Crowe’s ”favorite acoustic guitarist” — and wife — Heart’s Nancy Wilson, and to Aimee Mann; the rest is familiar artists’ less familiar fare. Would any less pop-savvy filmmaker have the nerve to score Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger’s first necking scene with…Paul McCartney’s ”Singalong Junk”? Below, Crowe explains his creative decision-making. — Chris Willman
”The movie was written to start with ‘Magic Bus’ from the Who’s Live at Leeds. There was a bit of backwards guitar at the beginning that seemed right for Jerry’s entrance. When Cruise became interested in the part, we rehearsed the entrance with a cassette blasting. Perfect. He committed the next day.
”Then came time to film. All we could find was the new, remixed version of the album where the backwards guitar had been replaced. I couldn’t find my original cassette. We scrambled and found a cutout copy of the original, backwards guitar intact, and that’s what we played on the set.
”Cruise was anxious to film with the actual music playing loud. His Name Is Alive was on a boom box next to the camera when we filmed the writing of the Mission Statement. The love scene, of course, was shot to the Mingus music.
”I had in mind ‘So What’ from the Stockholm concerts with Miles and Coltrane. But when I put it on that day, it was too languid and wasn’t as good as Mingus’ ‘Haitian Fight Song,’ which sounded like a herd of elephants mating. We’d already filmed the nanny saying the music was on a tape of ‘Miles and Coltrane’ — so we later dubbed [the nanny] saying ‘And I put some Mingus on there too.’ ”The cross-merchandising of music and movies has bred a monster — the ’90s movie that is wall-to-wall music and none of it means anything. This album is religiously a souvenir; everything appears in the order you hear it in the movie. Hopefully you can get the journey of the character Jerry Maguire in the music. I still remember my sister coming home with the soundtrack to The Graduate. Listening to it in her room felt forbidden, like the movie. For me, that’s the perfect soundtrack album: a little bit of the movie you were able to smuggle into your home.”