Singles – L.A. Times (#1)

‘Singles’ Scene Moves to Seattle’s Rock Beat

It sounds like trend-hopping at its worst: a movie that’s set in Seattle and uses music from the oh-so-hot Seattle rock scene.

But when writer-director Cameron Crowe (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Say Anything . . .”) started working on his latest film, “Singles,” the Seattle scene was barely known outside of Seattle.

“We actually started putting it together 2 1/2 years ago,” Crowe says of the film, a romantic tale of six young Seattle-ites that stars Matt Dillon and is due in theaters at the end of August.

Seattle’s hottest band, Nirvana, ended up not contributing music for the film (“The bigger they got, the more complicated the negotiations became,” Crowe says). Still, the soundtrack album (on Epic) is a fine sampler of Seattle bands.

The album features songs written for the film by Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam (which has followed Nirvana into the Top 10 of the national album chart), Soundgarden, Mudhoney and Screaming Trees, plus an acoustic piece by Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, and a remixed version of a Mother Love Bone song.

And, for historical perspective, the album includes “May This Be Love” by Seattle native Jimi Hendrix and a version of Led Zeppelin’s “Battle of Evermore” by the Lovemongers, an acoustic Seattle band fronted by Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson. (Crowe is married to Nancy.)

There are also a few non-Seattle treats: two songs marking the solo debut of former Replacements leader Paul Westerberg, and a new one from Chicago’s Smashing Pumpkins.

Westerberg also wrote incidental music that is not on the album (a highlight, Crowe says, is a Muzak-like version of the Replacements’ “Bastards of Young” used in a doctor’s office scene), and several other Seattle bands’ music is heard on-screen only.

Crowe’s passion for the Seattle music should be no surprise to anyone who’s followed his career. Now 34, he began as a pop music journalist in his teens (he wrote his first Rolling Stone cover story at 16). He was in his 20s when he returned to high school posing as a student to research and write the book that became “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” He wrote the screenplays for the 1982 movie version and the similar “Wild Life” two years later before becoming a director with 1989’s “Say Anything . . . .”

As a regular in the Seattle clubs–he moved there after marrying Wilson in 1983–Crowe got to know the local musicians, though he never dreamed the scene would become as big as it has.

So he resents any implications of trend-hopping.

“It’s a drag that it might be perceived as jumping on the bandwagon,” he says. “Because I was one of the first guys out there with a hammer building the bandwagon.”

Still, he has a sense of humor about it. Asked about his next project, he noted the other big success on the pop charts and quipped, “I’m heading to Garth Brooks’ hometown to make a movie about that.”

Courtesy of the L.A. Times – Steve Hochman – June 28, 1992