Tag Archives: Cameron Crowe

Roger Daltrey – Circus Magazine

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We’ve got a brand new addition to the Journalism section today as Cameron chats with The Who’s Roger Daltrey in this 1974 interview from Circus Magazine. Roger certainly was prophetic and this is over 40 years ago! You can also see how his philosophy has rubbed off on bands with longevity such as Pearl Jam. Enjoy!

Roger Daltrey Tells Why The Who Will Never Break Up

A sleek 747 jetliner rose from the rain-drenched runway of the San Francisco International Airport and swung across the night sky towards Los Angeles. Roger Daltrey stared reflectively out the plane’s window at the flickering lights outlining the Bay area. Many hours earlier, at the Cow Palace, The Who played before the first American audience they had seen in years.

It was ten years since the mop-topped microphone twirling singer first established a raucous band of English mods known as the High Numbers. Included in this noisy band was a solemn bassist named John Entwistle, a clowning drummer named Keith Moon and a beak-nosed guitarist named Pete Townshend. After a minor hit with a single called “I’m The Face,” the group’s name was changed to The Who. The rest, from instrument smashing to Woodstock to Tommy, is—as they say—history.

“Ten years,” Roger said as he turned away from the window and sighed incredulously. “Ten years of this.” He paused for a moment to adjust the paraphernalia in the seat pouch before him. Still an energetic ball of fire, Roger Daltrey is far from a weathered old rock and roll conversation piece. Just like his fellow band members, Daltrey is a professional in every sense of the word. “I used to wonder,” he mused, “how The Who have been able to stay together this long. Now I know. We all know. Pete, Keith, John and I have learned to stick together when times are at their toughest. We learned that when things are tough it’s precisely the time to stay at your closest.”

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Mar 14, 2018

Remembering John Mahoney

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Remembering John Mahoney

While filming his 1989 debut, Say Anything…, director Cameron Crowe found himself working with esteemed character actor John Mahoney. Mahoney, who died February 4th, 2018, was a formidable stage performer before portraying Jim Court, the divorced father of Diane (Iona Skye) who becomes embroiled in an IRS investigation while simultaneously trying to deter his daughter’s budding romance with Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack).

While the role ostensibly made Mahoney the film’s antagonist, Crowe tells Rolling Stone that the actor arrived on set “with a bounce in his step and a twinkle in his eye” and “brought joy to every scene and every take.” Most of all, the director remembered the actor’s brilliant laugh, which rang out long after they finished shooting one of the film’s most intense and emotional scenes.

John Mahoney came into our Say Anything… world with a bounce in his step and a twinkle in his eye. He had mighty Chicago cred too. He’d come from the esteemed Steppenwolf acting troupe, was already friends with John Cusack and had just performed in John Guare’s House of Blue Leaves on the Broadway stage. Mahoney brought joy to every scene and every take. The more dramatic and powerful the performance, the louder his unmistakable laugh as soon as I called “cut.”

You see, John Mahoney’s laugh wasn’t just a laugh. It was a two-note foghorn; a call to arms that said, “That’s right, when it’s good, it’s fun!”   The biggest Mahoney laugh might have been when we shot the scene in which Lloyd (Cusack) visits Jim Court on the prison yard, bringing him a final letter from his daughter Diane (Ione Skye). The scene was fraught with tension. We discussed many different tonal versions, deciding on a quiet one. We stood out by the barbed prison fence. Action.

“How you doing?” Lloyd asks Jim Court, almost tenderly. Mahoney then used all the character frustration and love and pain he’d been building for the entire shoot of the movie and just yelled: “I’M INCARCERATED, LLOYD!” That moment and John Cusack’s reaction is one of those moments I’ll be forever grateful for. They sure made a young director feel good. And when the take was over, you know what happened. The Laugh. And it was loud.

A few months later, I ran into John Mahoney again. I was in my neighborhood McDonald’s and felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around. It was Mahoney. He saw the curious look on my face. This consummate actor, born for the stage, just standing waiting for a Big Mac. The laugh was unforgettable. With skill and hilarity and soul and pain and a dash of mystery, John Mahoney always did make unforgettable look easy. I hope this made you laugh, John, wherever you are, feeling all this love from so many. Bravo, my friend.

Courtesy of Rolling Stone – Cameron Crowe – February 6, 2018

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Feb 24, 2018

Singles 25th Anniversary

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25 years ago today, Singles (finally) debuted at a theater near you. If you haven’t done so, explore the Singles section of The Uncool where you’ll find Deleted Scenes from the script, Locations Then & Now, a collection of foreign posters and so much more. We hope you like the (never before seen) alternate shot from Poster shoot above and the negatives from Citizen Dick at the Java Stop below!

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Sep 18, 2017

Steely Dan Thrills Early and Often

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Happy Friday. We dug this out of the archives today as one last tribute to Walter Becker and Steely Dan. This short piece is from the February, 1973 issue of Zoo World as the band reflects on their new found success with their first hit single, “Do It Again” of their new record, Can’t Buy A Thrill. 

Steely Dan

“Well, I imagine you’ve seen it,” Steely Dan manager Gary McPike sighed as he withdrew a well-fingered, almost crumbling, clipping from that morning’s Los Angeles Times.

It was a critical review of the band’s recent appearance at the Whiskey. A quick scan revealed it wasn’t as crippling a write-up as the concerned McPike’s attitude may have implied. The music was fantastic, contended the reviewer, but the band’s drab attire was inexcusable. This lack of showmanship, concluded the piece, revealed an inherent disregard for the audience.

“I like movement,” remarked Wait Becker, the group’s bassist and one half of their composing team, “and I’m all for the visual side of rock ’n roll, but the music is the most important thing. When the visual aspect gets in the way of the music. I’d rather forsake it.”

It’s not as if Steely Dan hides behind their sound equipment while performing their set, however. Lead singer, David Palmer, performs as spirited a set as anybody else, and the rest of the band does their share of bopping as well, but some people you just can’t please.

“As far as that one review is concerned,” added Donald Fagen, organist, sometime lead-vocalist, and the other half of the aforementioned writing duo, “I think the person who wrote it has an unusually high interest in men’s fashions.” Fagen pauses a moment to laugh, then continues, “I mean if a person is that disinterested in the music, I’d just as soon they go elsewhere.”

Steely Dan is a new band. Emerging out of the ruins of several other bands that barely missed making it or just plain never did, (their present line-up (Jeff Baxter on guitar, Jim Hodder on drums, Becker on bass, Fagen on keyboards and Palmer on vocals) was settled upon as recently as last August. Their first dose of recognition came with an irresistible single by the name of “Do It Again.” Steely Dan passed that first hurdle on their way to large scale success, which was a new experience for the former members of Jay And The Americans and Ultimate Spinach. So Steely Dan has reached a position in four months, most bands can’t reach in years.

Perhaps most responsible for the group’s following is the extremely accessible composing talents of Becker. Do It Again, according to the writers, was not intended to be a single. “In fact,” Faqen-one of your more obvious New Yorkers – continues, “we didn’t try to record or write any of our tunes catering to any particular market. But, as it turns out. I guess we’re just naturally commercial.”

Can’t Buy A Thrill, Steely Dan’s impressive debut album, looks like it’ll produce several more hit 45’s before the band’s follow-up Lp hits the stands in a couple months. But, the question appears to be, does the group intend to be a singles band or an albums band.

“Both…I hope,” Becker responds. “We try to make every cut as good as we can, not really thinking whether it’s adaptable to AM or not.”

Needless to say, things have not always been on the up-and-up for the Becker-Fagen team. Writing together long before their involvement in Steely Dan, the two kept themselves alive for two years by playing in Jay And The Americans’ back-up band.

“We worked about two weekends a month on that job,” remembers Becker. “That paid the rent. The rest of the time we just hung out, wrote songs and threw them out the window. Our publishing company was actually non-existent, and we ended up writing songs for other people who never did them. We wrote some songs for Barbra Streisand…she actually did one of them, “I Mean To Shine.” It’s on her Barbra Streisand album. “We wrote songs for Dusty Springfield. I don’t think she ever got to hear them. Then we wrote some non-pop songs that no one got to hear.”

“Denny Doherty recorded one of our songs,” Fagen mutters, “but the album it was on never got released. His contract had ended.”

From there the two migrated down to Los Angeles from New York, where they met the other future members of Steely Dan, formed the band and began work on Can’t Buy A Thrill.

With the fickleness of the record industry and it’s audience being what it is, how does it feel, you may be wondering, to be in the depths of frustration one day and be topping the charts and accepting superlative praise the next. How does it change an artist’s life? Donald Fagen and Walter Becker can only speak for themselves.

“Well,” begins Fagen, “I used to have a lot more leisure time…like all the time…”

“As for me,” Becker interrups in a bored monotone, “I gained twenty pounds.”

Courtesy of Zoo World – Cameron Crowe – February 3, 1973

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Sep 15, 2017

Saying Farewell to Walter Becker of Steely Dan

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Sad day today as we’ve lost another great musician and human. Our best to Walter’s family, Donald Fagen and the Steely Dan community. They were, in their own particular and wickedly subversive way, the Coen Brothers of Rock. Here is Cameron’s ’77 story about Steely Dan.

Steely Dan Springs Back: The Second Coming

Their new album, held throughout product-glutted summer for just the right moment, accidentally came out the same afternoon as the new Rolling Stones LP. Their first tour in three years was canceled. They haven’t had a hit single since 1974’s “Rikki Don’t Lost That Number.” And still, their sixth and most esoteric effort yet, Aja, is one of the season’s hottest albums and by far Steely Dan’s fastest-selling ever. Suddenly, against all the odds, it’s Steely Dan fever.

They are the unlikeliest super-group – perhaps because there is no group. Two blurry character named Walter Becker and Donald Fagen write and construct the songs, then hire highly skilled studio musicians to execute the parts. They even play themselves, but less and less, it seems, each album. (“It wouldn’t bother me at all,” says Becker, “not to play on my own album.”) The infrequent product of their labors is labeled a Steely Dan album. Any further details are subject to Becker’s and Fagen’s notorious distaste for facts.

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Sep 3, 2017

Raspberries – Pop Art Live

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I got some pretty cool news to share today. More than 30 years after the original members of Raspberries last played together, Omnivore Recordings is releasing a 2-CD/Digital set entitled Pop Art Live on August 18, 2017. The show captures their November, 2004 reunion show at Cleveland’s House of Blues. Along with “Go All The Way” (featured in Almost Famous), 27 additional Raspberries classics will be included. Cameron provides his thoughts in the liner notes, along with longtime Raspberries experts Bernie Hogya and Ken Sharp. As always, it will be available at your favorite independent record store or through Amazon. We will share Cameron’s piece when the triple LP colored vinyl is released in November.

 

 

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Aug 17, 2017

Billy, How Did You Do it?

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Billy & Cameron. Photo By Neal Preston

We lost the great Billy Wilder 15 years ago today. I thought it would be great to remember him with this 2005 Sight & Sound piece that Cameron wrote. It’s new to The Uncool and we hope you seek out a Wilder film to watch tonight!

Billy, how did you do it?

‘Elizabethtown’ director Cameron Crowe pays tribute to Billy Wilder

 The first Billy Wilder movie to ever grace my family’s living room was Some Like It Hot. I was too small to catch all the subtext of those cross-dressing musicians, but this much was clear: something was going on inside that movie. A subversive sense of humour was at play, and those big laughs rocked our house. Later, someone pointed out that the same man made Sunset Blvd., another movie we all watched together as a family. Both were late-night ‘movies of the week’ on TV. The magic was palpable, even on that small screen.

I decided to become a film-maker to protect a script I’d written called Say Anything… A number of other directors had passed on it, and the script was about to fall into the hands of someone who cared a lot less about it than me. Wilder, a journalist who became a director for similar reasons, was one of the first masters I turned to in preparing to direct. Most writer-directors seeking inspiration eventually go to Wilder. I worked through his pictures one by one. His work was like a drug – character-rich stories filled with laughs and story turns so deft you could get a body rush sitting in the theatre. Eventually, I got to The Apartment, sadly after my father had passed away. Halfway through, it was already my favourite. When I heard the last line of the movie, “shut up and deal”, I realised where one of my dad’s favourite phrases had come from.

Part of the great fun of being a fan of Billy Wilder is that your favourite Wilder pictures change over the years. For me, sometimes it’s Love in the Afternoon; other times it’s A Foreign Affair; but usually I return to The Apartment. The characters, the score, the melancholy and the perfection of the script and performances… It’s hard to top. though the fizzy comic wallop of Some Like It Hot sure gives it a run for its money.

In my experience of interviewing him, Wilder usually chose Some Like It Hot or The Apartment as his personal favourite. His reasons he said, were mostly script-based. He just loved the structure and the successful collaborations with his writing partner Izzy Diamond. He often mentioned the ‘cracked mirror’ scene in The Apartment as one of his favourite moments in any of his films He explained that these pictures and Sunset Blvd. “just worked”. Of his audience favourites, the only one that seemed to displease him was Irma la Douce. As for his favourite actors, he always mentioned Lemmon and Matthau and, with an extra twinkle, Charles Laughton.

Double Indemnity survives because of its masterful victory of tone and performance and direction. For a still young director, it was a work of sly bravura. And Wilder’s favourite element – the inner ‘love story’ between Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson – gives the movie its freshness and a dark kick. Many try for this tone; few get there.Wilder used to say that a masterful comic actor like Cary Grant would forever be beaten at the Oscars by a less talented, furrow-browed serious actor with a “physical ailment of some kind”. It was his way, I think, of waving the flag for what he felt to be a far more difficult exercise – comedy. He was a great fan of modem pictures that had a certain graceful comic perfection, like the Japanese film Shall We Dance?. He also loved the deep-tissue satire of American Beauty. As for his own legacy, Wilder sometimes scoffed, “Why would anyone care about me?” But, in fact, he’d noticed the parade of younger film-makers who cited him and made a point of telling me it genuinely surprised and touched him. “A lot’?” “A little,” he’d answer with a trademark flick of his eyebrow that indicated the opposite might also be true.

As Wilder once said of Audrey Hepburn, “there is only one”. But his lessons to other modern directors are clear: protect your script and your characters; observe the values of script structure… Take a look at the work of Wilder’s own heroes, from Ernst Lubitsch to William Wyler, and then go out there with a camera and tell your stories with glee and a ferocious lack of false sentimentality. But most of all, “don’t bore them”.

Courtesy of Sight & Sound – Cameron Crowe – October, 2005

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Mar 27, 2017

Happy Birthday to Mr. James Taylor!

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Photo by Timothy White

Photo by Timothy White

James celebrated his birthday yesterday and he is still going strong. He’s been on the road touring for the past few years with his latest album, Before This World. He’s wrapping that tour up in South America, but will back on the road this Summer with Bonnie Raitt in the US. Let’s jump back in our time machine to Cameron’s 1976 story from the L.A. Times.

James Taylor: Just a Homebody Who Finds No Warmth in the Spotlight

The young man edged closer and stared for a moment to make sure the lanky figure in the corner of the restaurant was indeed James Taylor. The man then tore a soiled bandage from his own forehead and began shrieking that Taylor had just miraculously healed him.Within seconds, the other customers in the restaurant were gawking at the shy singer-songwriter. Taylor sighed quietly and buried his head in his hands. All he had wanted was a burger.

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Mar 13, 2017


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