Cameron Crowe's soundtrack legacy
He popped Peter Gabriel’s ”In Your Eyes” into John Cusack’s boom box for Say Anything…‘s most classic scene. He tuned the tour-bus radio to Elton John’s ”Tiny Dancer” for a memorable sing-along in Almost Famous, a movie about his teenage years as a real-life rock journalist for Rolling Stone. Cameron Crowe is a maestro of the movie soundtrack, and Elizabethtown represents one of the hardest DJ’ing gigs of his career. ”We actually play more music in Elizabethtown than in Almost Famous,” the director says. ”I felt that I took it to the max, because if we were gonna make a movie that was a love story, a tribute to my dad, and a love letter to [Kentucky], we needed music to set a tone and bind the stories together, to integrate them into one yarn.” When he was writing Elizabethtown, Crowe kept a notebook full of song lists to go with every scene, and by start date, that notebook was thicker than the shooting script.
Nowadays, of course, everything from Wes Anderson movies to The O.C. is fueled by eclectic pop soundtracks, but Crowe helped usher in the concept as far back as 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which he wrote. He remembers ”pounding on tables” at Fast Times studio meetings, advocating for a soundtrack that hailed ”from the world of the people that the movie’s about.” Two decades later, Crowe now likes the directorial competition involved in picking the best tunes for movies. ”When Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson started coming with their movies, I’d watch them and go, ‘Damn, Tarantino used the Delfonics record? S — -! I thought that was mine, I had it in my back pocket,”’ Crowe laughs. ”But he kicked ass with it. And there’s a part of me now that wants to volley back to some of those guys and say, ‘You inspired me, now check this out,”’ he says, referring to his new soundtrack, which includes another signature Elton John tune, ”My Father’s Gun,” as well as a new cut by My Morning Jacket, Kentucky rockers who also appear in the film. ”It’s just fun,” insists Crowe, ”to be part of a job where you can honor the music you love and make movies, too.”