Almost Famous, Band Wives Edition

First of all, let me say that the Band Wives need a tour bus. There are details still to be worked out, like full-time jobs and families and children, and how the two bands would tour together, but Mobius Jones, Day Ja Voo, and more importantly, the Band Wives, need a tour bus.

Ever since everyone started joking about how I have been stalking Day Ja Voo and Mobius Jones three years ago, people have told me I needed to watch the movie Almost Famous. There is actually an entire list of movies I have never seen, and we are working through it slowly, one by one, so I just put this one at the bottom.  Then I caught the pilot episode of Roadies, the new series on Showtime this summer by the guy who wrote Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe.  After watching this very engaging and electric first episode on Netflix (where they try to get you sucked in to try their Showtime app), I decided to put Almost Famous at the top of the list.  This morning I caught the movie, and I now see what the hype is all about.  This movie entertained me like no other in my recent movie watching history. And I want  to be Penny Lane (Kate Hudson’s character), but without all the sex. And the drugs.  OK, maybe just for Halloween.

The first scene, ironically, starts out with the background song from Alvin and the Chipmunks, “Christmas, Don’t Be Late.”  Fun fact: years later, Jason Lee, who plays lead singer Jeff Bebe in Almost Famous, would star in the Chipmunk movie franchise as Dave Seville.

He played the lead singer in the ficticious band Stillwater, but the rodents will not even let him sing?? I have enjoyed Jason Lee ever since My Name Is Earl and that show’s producer Greg Garcia always put lots of pop culture references in that show, and the one he developed after that, Raising Hope. He even put a parody of the airplane turbulence scene from Almost Famous in one of those episodes of Raising Hope, the one where Jason Lee plays aging washed up rock star Smoky Floyd and they all end up in a similar situation.

 

And how about the scene in Almost Famous after they pick up Russell from the basement party where he was hiding and partying, and the entire busful of people start singing Tiny Dancer: this is what hanging with a band is all about!  I can’t tell you how many times we have broken out in song when we are all together!

A lot of people have their own favorite parts of the movie,  including the love story between Penny Lane and Billy Crudup’s character Russell Hammond. Some enjoy the story of the protagonist William Miller (the movie is loosely based on Cameron Crowe’s own experiences) and his journey as a teen following and writing about bands.  But for me, it’s all about hanging with the band and their entourage. That is why we all gather once a month or so in someone’s living room and jam. I have been practicing on the guitar the guys got together and gave me for my birthday so that I can join in.  We are developing a binder full of lyrics of songs we love to hear the band play so we can sing along with them during these jams. You know, like a hymnal. Kind of sacred. And we are staging an event this weekend called Bands On The Run so the bands have a place to perform and to show all their fans, old and new, how amazing they are.

Let me close with some last words from Penny Lane:
“Can you believe these new girls? They don’t even know what it is to be a fan. You know, to truly love some silly piece of music or some band so much that it hurts.”

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