I have always loved how the richest, most influential people in the world are largely storytellers. Jennifer Lawrence, George Lucas, Brad Pitt, Sofia Vergara, J. J. Abrams, Vince McMahon—to name a few. But being a movie fan I sometimes forget that some of the richest most influential people are also the poets: Kerry Underwood, Bruno Mars, Wiz Khalifa, Kati Perry, One Direction, Rhianna. We all know how much importance we place on our music. Is there any one of us who didn’t have a musician on our wall at some point in our childhood?
Almost Famous is semi-autobiographical. It turns out Cameron Crowe actually wrote for Rolling Stone as a teenager, and like William Miller in the story, he met many of his heroes as he toured with bands like The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Can you imagine the wealth of stories he would have touring with these bands?
I’m not sure what the soundtrack to my life would include, but my earliest memory of loving a song was “Rhinestone Cowboy.” I also remember listening to LP’s and 8-tracks on my parents’ stereo with a wide variety of genres: Charlie Pride, Anne Murray, The Beach Boys, The Oakridge Boys, Trooper, several “The Best of Country,” and Captain Kangaroo’s Christmas album with Mr. Greenjeans. My favourite was a best of the 60’s various record that had “Surfin’ Bird” on it. That’s right. I was listening to that song before Peter Griffin made it mainstream! I’m a Surfin’ Bird hipster.
And any time our family was all together in the car, you could be sure of three things: 1) someone who yell “punch buggy”, 2) dad would crack open the window and light up an Export A, and 3) the radio would be on. So I was always familiar with what was on the charts in the pop/rock scene. But it was my brother who helped me discover my own favourite poets.
One day he was singing “Come On Feel the Noise” and couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard that song. So guess what he did? Aw come on, you know. Anyone who is 40 or older sure as heck fire knows what he did. He made me a magnifi-mundo mixed tape, that’s what he did. I remember it having Billy Joel’s “Pressure” as well as “Don’t It Make You Feel Like Dancin’” by the Headpins, “Freeze Frame” by the J. Geils Band, “Eye in the Sky” by the Alan Parsons Project, and maybe even the Payolas’ hit “You’ve Got the Eyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyys of a Stranger!” And, of course, Bryan Adams was introduced to me. That was when it happened to me. Adams’ face, my wall.
When I was a pre-teen I heard a rumour that there was such a thing as “Christian rock.” Though our family knew of people who thought this too was the Devil’s playground—he uses “Christian rock” to trick you into listening to his own soundtrack and before you know it you’ll be worshipping him and back-masking in his evil glory—we were pretty sure it was ok. I was becoming a fan of Petra, a band that my friend Dwayne would play for me, usually through the receiver of the phone. So, for Christmas I got one of their albums from my parents. I couldn’t wait to hear their rockin’ God-glorifyin’ greatness, and when I popped the tape into the trusty ol’ ghetto blaster, the first song I heard was “The Colouring Song.” Now if you listen to this song (you can click on the title and hear it on Youtube) you will not hear what I was hoping to hear: some form of KISS or AC/DC singing songs that make religion seem cool. Instead, it sounded like minstrels had strolled into town strumming and singing something straight from the Canterbury Tales! I was horrified then, but I’ve grown to really like that song.
Since that time my musical tastes have both changed and stayed the same. I still love Bryan Adams, Phil Collins and Billy Joel. I also have grown to enjoy The Who, Rich Mullins (greatest songwriter of all time), Bob Dylan, Motorhead, Eminem, The Rankin Family, even Kei$ha. Hey! HEY! I see you rolling your eyes! Cut it out, Kei$ha’s cool!
Believe it or not, I won’t be giving any top ten list or playlist, but I would like to share that the song at the top of the charts on the day I was born in 1972 is a song I still love to listen to: America’s “Horse With No Name.”
Congratulations, Almost Famous. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Abigail Breslin! The most wonderful surprise of watching Little Miss Sunshine was discovering this adorable little darling. Her movie acting début, btw, was playing Mel Gibson’s daughter in M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs.
Best Actor: James suggested Steve Carrell and I couldn’t agree more. The Oscars are infamous for snubbing comedians, but I think Carrell is starting to change that. He is believable in any character thrown at him. And man, if you can play an idiot in a TV show and a literary scholar in a movie and both are completely believable, you’re a friggin good actor.
Best Quote: “I’m getting pulled over! Everyone, just… pretend to be normal.” — Greg Kinear as Richard in Little Miss Sunshine.
There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all