We’ve all taken different paths to become who we are today. Every one of us can look back and pinpoint events that impacted us. Some are monumental and some at the time seemed insignificant, but the impact far outweighs the moment. For me, one of the most defining occasions was the first time I watched the film Almost Famous.
I was 11 the first time I saw Almost Famous. After months and months of begging my mom to watch it because it “looked cool in the commercials” we stumbled upon a cheap copy at a gas station in the middle of nowhere on the way to visit relatives. My mom bought it for me as a bargaining tool so I wouldn’t constantly complain about how bored I was. I don’t think she expected the movie to ever become as big of a part of my life as it did.
There’s never a period of more than a few weeks that I spend without watching Almost Famous. It’s my go to comfort movie of sorts. Whenever I get sad, need confirmation I’m doing the right thing, or even when I’m bored – this is my movie. It reaches farther than that in my everyday life. A quote from the movie is printed on my personal business card. I even use Almost Famous as a bar of sorts. If I find somebody who considers Almost Famous amongst their favorite films, I know I’ve found a kindred spirit.
There’s so many reasons to love Almost Famous. The cast is full of powerful actors from top to bottom of the bill – seriously everybody in Hollywood is in this movie it seems. Then, there’s the AMAZING soundtrack. Almost Famous has one of the highest music budgets in recent history. Each song was perfectly picked to compliment the film.
How Almost Famous Taught Me About Life
There’s much more to take away from Almost Famous than listening to “Tommy” with a lit candle will show your future. Although, I did try that as a teenager and all I saw was the posters on my bedroom wall of Nirvana – but maybe that was really telling me something all along.
1. Music is a powerful compliment in both film and life. Almost Famous is the first movie I remember the music playing as much of a role as the actual story. Pivotal scenes were more poignant and memorable because of the added music. It was a lesson that music and memory are tied. Those songs you connect back to a time or person hold a special place because of the intertwined connections. Music adds a dimension to a moment that it stands out.
Maybe THE best use of music complimenting a movie is included in an Almost Famous scene, showing the connection between music and life. Towards the end of a tour, the band and crew are all frustrated, worn out, and sitting in silence while the tension continues to rise. Until that is, the music makes them lose their bad feelings for a small moment in time where they all come together in an impromptu performance sing-a-long of “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John.
2. You are not alone, there are other people in the world where music is their everything. When I was younger, for a long time I felt like the odd duck out. Music was popular, but even my closest friends got annoyed and thought it was weird how much music seemed to impact me. I was the kid who could talk endlessly about why I enjoyed a certain song, who wanted cds for presents, and knew way too much about anything music related. Almost Famous showed me that loving music so intensely was not strange and there are others out there like me. At 11, knowing I wasn’t alone was the most comforting thing I had seen.
3. Follow your passions, even if they aren’t conventional because they’ll make you happy. William is a fledgling fifteen when he leaves home to go after his dreams, against his mother’s wishes. Sometimes the laid out path that everybody wants for you, isn’t what will make you happy. It may be the scariest thing you’ve ever done, but you have to follow your passions. Who knows, you may even be able to make a career out of it – but you’ll only know if you take the jump.
4. Write to tell your story. Only you know the truth about the things you’ve experienced and how you view the world. Even if other people may not like what you write, you need to write for you.
5. Rocker boys with long hair will always be a downfall because they’re just too damn pretty. I should’ve known I was in trouble when I totally understood the appeal of Stillwater. Over a decade later and rocker boys with long hair are still my biggest trouble. I find them far too intriguing than what is probably considered good for me.
6. Be careful with your heart. Penny keeps chasing after Russell, even though it’s obvious he isn’t good for her. In life you’re going to fall in love with all sorts of people, but if someone doesn’t treat you with the respect and care you deserve – that person is the wrong person for you to love. It won’t bring you anything but hurt and heartbreak. Also, it probably helps to not go after married men.
7. The bad patches in life where it all doesn’t seem worth it are inevitable, but you’ll find a way through them. After William has finished writing the piece for Rolling Stone it seems the world drops out below him. We’ve all hit rock bottom, it’s a part of life. The thing that gets you out is determination. It’s easy to get down and feel like there’s no way out, but you can’t give up. The good will come around eventually.
8. Music and art can inspire and bring people together. Don’t ever brush the possible impact off. Throughout history these things have brought upon change and revolution. There is much more to them than a simple hobby or something to listen and look at. Music and art are two of the most powerful things we experience in life. It’s not uncommon for people find themselves and their “family” through them. I know I have.
9. Hardcore fans are not someone to mess with. I know people laughed at Vic Munoz and his obsession with Led Zeppelin, but these fans do exist. I probably have actually become Vic Munoz in some respects. From One Direction to Guns N’ Roses there are a group of “super” fans who are intense and love the band more than anything. They’ve traveled together, seen the band perform more than what is considered normal, and will defend their love of the band to the grave. Their obsession may seem silly, but to them it’s something much bigger. Don’t be an asshole.
10. You can’t get away with swearing in front of your mother by switching just one letter. Feck is still fuck in her mind, so you’re better off just avoiding saying it at all. No matter how frustrated you may get, through all her weird eccentricities she’s just trying to do the best for you. One day you’ll look back and be able to accept that.
11. Nothing ever feels quite as magical as a concert. There’s a buzz and electricity that just fills you as the music surrounds you. No other high compares in the same way. Unfortunately, the concert will always end so the best you can do is soak it all in while you can.
12. You are uncool no matter how cool you think you are, embrace it. The more time you spend trying to be cool, the more you’ll be surrounded by fake people who really don’t care about you. Be exactly who you are, every uncool drop and you’ll find the people who will love you most.
13. Don’t Wait on your Morocco. Penny Lane talks to William throughout the film about her future plans of someday traveling to Morocco. Don’t keep putting off your plans and dreams as a whim in the future. Do it now because you never know if you’ll miss out on your own Morocco.
BONUS: Harry Styles would raid the wardrobe of this film in about a split second, as would I. Upon re-watching it again recently this is all I could think about. There’s so many fun, outrageous prints, silk and sheer. Plus that faux fur jacket, gimme.
(all gifs via)
Just for fun, here’s my three favorite quotes.
“They don’t even know what it is to be a fan. Y’know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.” -Sapphire
“Music, you know, true music not just rock ‘n’ roll, chooses you.” -Lester Bangs
William: What do you love most about music?
Russell: To begin with? Everything.
The third quote is the one on the back of my personal business card, if you cared to know.
The only thing I learned from Almost Famous that I disliked? Touring was about a million times more bad ass in the 1970s than today. Fight me on that.
Do you have any movies that impacted who you are today? What did you learn from it?
P.S. – Check out The Happiness Perspective on finding your own version of success.
Until next time,