Vanilla Sky – AOL

As The Crowe Flies

Dear Friends.

The recent Oscars and the passing of Hollywood legend, Billy Wilder, prompted me to disseminate a piece that I’ve been working on for a while.  It’s about Billy’s finest filmmaking protege, Cameron Crowe, and clocks in at just under 5,000 words, so I’m delivering it in a Word document.  I apologize if AOL messes up its arrival to you in any way.  I hope you dig it.


True artists cultivate their craft in an economic vacuum.  They are not barometers of the marketplace, for if they were, their art would be reduced to commodity, devoid of the purity that is the wellspring of creation.  Artists know their audience, but do not require their approval.  Inspiration, risk, passion, and devotion…the artist who embodies these traits cannot be judged on the subjective merit of his or her work.  They (we) put it out there and let the universal chips fall where they may.

Cameron Crowe did not make Vanilla Sky as celluloid hazing to gain entrance into a special filmmaking day camp where he can romp in the sandbox with other motion picture visionaries, comparing shovels and the size of their castles.  He made this consuming, bizarre, beautiful, confounding film because it represents the essence of who he is, right here, right now.  Beyond the dream play, sexual obsession, blackouts, visual acrobatics, sci-fi meandering and twisted performances, the movie is very simply a story of self-realization.  And Cameron Crowe and the journey to self are two things I know a little something about.

Cam was a fan of RIP magazine.  We met while I was doing double duty as the hard rock columnist for the industry tip sheet, HITS.  The chemistry was instant and genuine, like we’d been watching the same life movie only from different rows in the theater.  We were 70s kids, journalists, record collectors, geeks.  In his sweet Seattle homage to twenty something angst and heartache, Singles, he used my magazine in a newsstand scene where the covers of various titles tossed surreal verbal snowballs at actress Kyra Sedgwick.  The shot was sliced from the theatrical release but made the director’s cut on video.

After a year at HITS, in the spring of 1993, a rival cash- swilling promotional tabloid, The Album Network, made me a better offer so I jumped ship.  I was also looking for a stronger place to promote my syndicated weekly local rock radio show, The Pirate Radio Friend Ship.  This exciting airwave experience very quickly expanded into the nationally syndicated program, Pirate Radio Saturday Night.   The Network was far more influential at the formats of radio where my profile was high.  They offered to let me promote my show in its pages, even though it was being produced and distributed by the Westwood One Radio Network, a direct competitor to their own terrestrial syndication division.

I wanted to make a big splash when I arrived at The Album Network so I called Cameron and asked if he would interview me for the magazine.  Then I phoned Cam’s legendary touring partner from the Rolling Stone Zeppelin glory years, Neal Preston, who had shot a couple covers for me at RIP, and asked him to take my picture for the layout.  Both agreed and what resulted was a terrific piece of pulp non- fiction that I am so very proud of.  It was probably the last time either of these icons worked for free.

Cameron Crowe and his wife, Nancy “Heart” Wilson, were inexorably connected to the late 80s Grunge explosion.  From Eddie Vedder’s Singles cameo to Cam’s Rolling Stone cover story on rock’s anti-heroes, Pearl Jam, the director was the Northwest’s’ pop cultural enclave’s most trusted Hollywood entrepreneur.  RIP was immersed in the grunge scene.  I thought the music emanating from indigenous bands like Mother Love Bone (who after the death of singer Andy Wood morphed into the legendary Pearl Jam), Mudhoney, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden and, of course, Nirvana, was powerful and important.

In the heat of this northwest cultural cyclone, Cam dropped by the Westwood One studios in Culver City one evening to be my special, live in -studio guest. My engineer, the irrepressible Jamie Osborne, and I spent the entire afternoon culling sound bites from Fast Times at Ridgemont High for rapid fire into the unwitting filmmaker’s headphones.  For two hours, we talked about music, film and life with a backdrop of Spicoli-isms texturing the atmosphere like stoner yap wallpaper.

Cameron’s ascension may have surprised the Hollywood elite but those of us who knew him — the rock journalist, the good guy, the conscious observer of the human condition, the ambassador of celluloid romance — we anticipated his bust-out with loving confidence.  “My next film is a departure,” I recall him telling me.  “It’s a story about a sport’s agent.  I wanted Ed Burns or Tom Hanks for the role.  We got Tom Cruise.”  Say no more.  The stars were aligning; the bird was about to take some serious flight.  But did you know that Jerry Maguire, the motion picture that went onto do a quarter billion dollars box office and vault my friend, Cameron, into the stratosphere of filmmakers, almost bombed?  This and more I learned on that memorable drive to Lilith Faire in January 1997.

“I’m expensing a limo and promise to introduce you to Sarah MacLachlan,” I said.  “C’mon, Cam, let’s do it.”  Before I could say, “Hey, bud, what’s your problem?” he agreed and met me at the Arista Records offices at 5 pm that winter afternoon. Just before Jerry Maguire hit the streets, I sent Cam an email.  The film was opening the same day as Whitney Houston’s, The Preacher’s Wife.  I wrote something to the effect, “C.  May Jerry bend Whitney over and give her a commercial ass-fucking the likes of which she’s never seen…” or something like that.  I don’t have the note anymore.  I think Cameron still does.

I’d been in creative purgatory for over two years so my loyalty to Clive Davis was wearing thinner than the waning strands of hair on the back of the record industry legend’s balding head.  As much as I’m tempted, I will not tell the tale of rock manager, John Baruck, warning me before taking the VP A&R gig, not to stare at the back of Clive’s head because he painted it with ‘shoe polish’ on occasion.  Backstage at the 2000 AMAs, I ran into Deborah Cox.  We had a nice chat until I blurted the comment, “So Clive’s still spray painting the back of his head.”  She recoiled in disgust, chastised me for being disrespectful, and marched away.   Okay, you got a piece of it.

Anyway, Cam shows up right on time.  He has a gift for me:  A Jerry Maguire poster.  He pulls out a silver pen and inscribes what sits over my writing table in my guesthouse where this tortured pen spits and sputters.  My prize possession reads, “To Lonn:  Master of time, love, music and inspiration!  I hail you.  Cameron Crowe, ’97.”  I am humbled every day by its presence.  Someday, the humility will be lapped by motivation and I’ll actually accomplish something worthy of my friend’s most gracious accolade.

The ride to Irvine Meadows was long and memorable.  I knew my days in the record business were numbered.  I told Cameron that MTV event guru (now big shot movie producer/director Joel Gallen) and I wanted to bring the classic 60s music TV show, Shindig! back.  But we had to give it a new name because our pitch meeting with ABC — the network who supposedly still owned the Shindig! brand — went over like a cobalt balloon.   And I won’t even discuss the Fox meeting with the music-hating midget development guy best known for those insipid World’s Most Hideous Forty Car Pile Ups, etc. etc.  I don’t think I’ve talked to Joel since.

Cam and I riffed on the concept for an hour as the tunes cranked in the back of our black stretch chariot.  We saw the show as being raw, black and white, stripped down; the artists under a close audience microscope.  Not a bell, whistle, sample or overdub within a Les Paul mile.  “How about “Blast!” he said.  There was a pregnant pause, a couple of breaths and then, revelation.  “Blast!  Yeah,” I fired back. ” That’s awesome!  That’s a fucking BLAST!”

“You know, we almost lost Jerry,” he confessed an hour later down the eternally congested 405 freeway. “The sports theme trailers weren’t working.  Then, at the eleventh hour, (producer) James L. Brooks suggests a complete left turn in the pre- release marketing.  Jerry becomes a love story.  The new ads reflect Tom and Rene Zellweger’s unique relationship. God bless James Brooks.”  The rest, as they say, is history.

We spent ten hours together that day.  Cameron and I sat on the grass outside the old Irvine Meadows venue before the gaggle of goddesses hit the stage, kibitzing with the bohemian vendors and musing about the Zeitgeist of Lillith Faire (we suggested a similar festival for men but the language is not suited for this missive).  How ironic that the Limp Bizkit misogyny wave was cresting on the musical horizon, preparing to place a testosterone spike through the heart of the Earth princess parade birthed by the beautiful Sarah and her visionary manager, Terry McBride.  Two years later, Lillith made its final go round as unshaven pits buckled under the weight of tattooed arms and backward baseball caps.

“I’m writing a book about my hero, (filmmaker) Billy Wilder,” he boasted.  “A collection of interviews.  He’s the greatest there ever was, man.  This is a total labor of love.  And then I’m going to do something, uh, autobiographical.”  He told me of his new deal with DreamWorks.  He was excited about learning new tricks from Spielberg, like special effects, elements Cameron had yet to introduce into his own motion pictures.

Cameron Crowe’s career vision has always been 20/20.  He knows what stories he must tell and has methodically, with each project, gathered the creative and industrial stream to transform these dreams into onscreen realities.  Here was the man who would someday wave his director’s wand and empty Manhattan’s Times Square, yet miraculously, retain the righteous sense of goodness and fair play anathema to an industry built on greed, lies, hubris and duplicity.  Listening to him talk about his future was like sitting with the wizard, Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings, as he gazed into the crystal ball.  The only thing more powerful than Cam’s confidence is his humility.

I introduced Sarah to Cameron after the show.  He was both shy and genuinely excited about meeting her.  We hung out and chatted to friends in the crowd until the traffic had all but extinguished.  One particularly gratifying moment transpired when my longtime friend, Lisa Lowry, former assistant to sports agents, Leigh Steinberg and Adam Katz, got to rap with Cam about her boss.   Steinberg is the real life agent whom the character Jerry McGuire is loosely based on.  Lisa pulled no punches telling Cam how Leigh had milked the connection to shameless proportions.  Lisa knew the truth and got her load off big time.  She was floating higher than a Sammy Sosa round tripper.   So was I.  So was Cam.

When we returned to the Arista offices some time after 2 am, I thanked my friend for an amazing day.  My instincts told me that our lives were heading in very different directions.  He was ascending to Hollywood royalty; I was about to be unemployed for the first time in 18 years.  Though we’ve exchanged a few emails over the past four years, I haven’t physically seen him since saying goodbye that night.   But I have felt him, and never more strongly than through the magic of his next project, the watermark of his filmmaking career.
*                     *                        *
It was a slow afternoon in the Santa Monica studios of KNAC.COM.  The film had opened two weeks ago but I hadn’t seen it yet.  I was getting notes from various individuals around the industry, fellow travelers who witnessed the synchronicity and had to share their emotions.  “Lonn, this is your life, too!” they said.  My life?  No way?  Or was it?  Part of me was dying to see Almost Famous, the other part, strangely embarrassed.  I didn’t need a Technicolor reminder of how glorious a lifelong underachiever I’d become.  Yeah, I was almost famous; I was almost a lot of things.

“Daddy,” whispered the voice of actor Miguel Ferrer, a friend and intense lover of music who came to rock consciousness in the scintillating 70s, just like me, and Cameron.  “I’m wandering through Central Park,” he said softly in that classic Ferrer voiceover baritone that floats behind half the movie trailers that come down the Hollywood pipeline. “The sky is deep blue, the breeze is blowing, and I’m crying my eyes out.  I just saw Almost Famous.  I can’t put into proper words what I’m feeling except to say, he nailed it.  It’s our life and it’s all so good.  I love you, daddy.”

That tear soaked call from a friend prompted me to action. I hung up the phone, went online and found a 4 pm show at Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade, a ten minute stroll from the studios.  “Ilse,” I said to my assistant, New Mexico-born child of music and light, “We’re going to the movies.”  Walking west down Santa Monica Boulevard, I jumped atop my mobile soapbox, again. “You will remember this day, Ilse,” I said, “For today, we embrace spontaneity, inspired by the promise of rock n’ roll.”  Bouncing down the block, we looked like two kids who just sniffed a bottle of Wilhold Glue; glassy-eyed, excited, anticipating wonder.

Every year, for as long as I can possibly remember, I’ve sat in front of my television on Oscar night and watched the Academy Awards.  Oft times with family, occasionally with friends, many times alone, I’ve always found the program strangely alluring, even when it was less than entertaining.  When I was a kid, I imagined a day where I would stand on the podium and make my acceptance speech for some great film I wrote, produced or directed.

“And the winner is…Cameron Crowe!”  I leapt to my feet and screamed my approval to the tiny audience present who couldn’t relate to the level of my elation.  It was a moment of affirmation to my g-g-generation, the children weaned on a diet of Les Paul riffs played through a Marshall stack.   Almost Famous was our film, because we were the geeky, freaky, dreamy pod people of society’s musical underground.  Our pockets were empty, but our earlobes runneth over.  We studied for finals, not alone, but in groups of like- minded musos who couldn’t absorb the lessons unless the tunes were playing.

Though it was the ultimate affirmation of the universal importance of rock n’ roll, we didn’t require a pat on the back from the Hollywood establishment to tell us what we long knew in our souls.  But it sure felt good just the same.  I wept when Cam made his speech.  I thought of the Tom Petty song.  “Even the losers get lucky some time.”  But I knew there was no luck involved.  This was talent, vision, and heart.  My friend had grabbed an Oscar.  God, I wish I were there, just to hug him, and thank him for winning one for the good guys.

Cameron produced a musical romantic postcard for our tribe to hang on the refrigerator door of our lives and gaze at regularly to remind us that we know it’s only rock n’ roll but we like it.  But beyond these analytical words lies something far more personal.  The tears I shed when the young journalist was thumbing through his sister’s vinyl collection flowed from the wellspring of my soul because that was my record collection.  And later, when the upstart writer took to the road to cover the buzzing band of the day for Rolling Stone, the flood -gates opened again, because that was my gig, too.  Cameron had Zeppelin, The Who and the Allman Brothers in the 70s.  I had Metallica, Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue in the 80s.  We are twin sons of different mothers, different eras, bonded by the cosmic mind of the rock witness.

Songs connect us to our past. When we hear a familiar tune, time travel becomes real.  The destinations are always welcome.  Almost Famous is a beautifully courageous and shamelessly romantic autobiographical adventure. Cameron doesn’t let us forget for an instant that we who love music are not the cursed, but rather, the blessed:  The blessed uncool.  Journalists all, laminates in tact, ears pricked for the shred, pens ablaze.

I hit the backstage a decade after my iconoclastic compatriot.   Watching Almost Famous was a surreal experience for me.   I could taste, smell and touch every frame of this film.  It is without question the biggest hearted movie ever made about rock n’ roll, which isn’t hard to understand, since a Stonehenge-sized rock n’ roll heart birthed it.  Last Thanksgiving, I rolled the video in the Friend house for the family.  It’s a God-given gift to love music with the passion that Cameron and I do.  The connection is seminal and strong.  No one else but Cam could compose an interaction like the one between wide-eyed journalist and slowly jading rock star in the final scene.  “What do you love about music?” asks the scribe.  “First,” says the rock star.  “Everything.”   Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer…

Every musician I know has seen and loved Almost Famous.  When I was in Venice with Bon Jovi this passed June, I was out to dinner with the band.  I’d been four days on the road, spoken to most of the guys, but hadn’t gotten Jon on tape yet.  As our collective bellies swelled from the delectable repast and ample fifths of perilous Pinot, so graciously served up by Robert DeNiro’s favorite eatery on the Italian Island of Stone, I approached Jon on the stroll back through San Marcos Square toward the Danali Hotel.

“So, dude,” I said, slightly slurred from the grape.  “Is this gonna be like Almost Famous?  You know, where the journalist doesn’t get his interview with the lead singer until the very end?”  He looked at me and laughed.  Jonny was a little moldy, too.  “How ’bout right now?” he said.   It was one am.  The band was heading for their rooms.  “Now?” I responded.  “Fuck yeah!  Where?”  “We’ll get a boat,” he said matter of factly.  “I know a bar.  We’ll go there.”  The power of fame is daunting, because twenty minutes later, in a dimly lit lounge on a Venice canal, the famous sat with the almost famous, joined in conversation, aglow in the moment.

I wrote a review of Almost Famous for KNAC.COM.  It was like therapy for me.  Since 1987, Cameron Crowe has been my personal benchmark for artistic integrity and star- chamber achievement.  I haven’t heard his voice on the other end of the receiver in almost five years but I feel him close by, a reflection of not just my creative self, but also my true self.  He doesn’t always respond to my notes but I know he’s paying attention.  The ventricles that connect the rock n’ roll hearts are ethereal, invisible, and untenable.
*                          *                            *

“It’s Cam’s White Album, Lonn,” gushes the affable Danny Bramson, Crowe’s longtime partner and uber music supervisor for Warner Brothers Records.   Bramson is not just Cameron’s soundtrack partner — the best of his kind in a business overrun with three piece poseurs whose heart is in the ledger, not the lyric — he is also the turntable kid down the block whom Cam would hijack to the used record stores after school.   Although Danny basks in an endless aura of promotional panache, he is all about the music, evidenced by the brilliant pagination of every soundtrack he and Cam ever produced.

“Dude, that’s a pretty heavy statement,” I fire back.  “The White Album fucked up everyone.  It was the single most profound left turn in the history of the fab four.  There was no turning back after the White Album.”  Danny’s smile widens as he sidles closer, emphasizing the profound statement to come.  He looks like Sinatra, ready to pounce on Carson.  “It’s always been about the scripts, right?” he questions rhetorically.  “Well, this is the first film where the camera takes precedence.  It’s absolutely hypnotic.  Shiv has to see it, and write about it.”  And with that, he’s gone.  “Mr. Bramson has left the building.  Please disperse,” chirped a nearby pigeon.

I was sick the entire month of December 2001; troubled by a renegade wisdom tooth that was infecting everything in oral proximity.  Cheek, gum, and throat…I was miserable.  The physical pain exacerbated the mental and emotional wear and tear that was coming to a raspberry zit -sized head as the ball dropped in Time’s Square behind that once music media trail blazer turned 21st Century corporate shill, Dick “Let’s go to commercial” Clark.  There I lay, an ivory of wisdom poisoning my insides, beholding an animated facelift in the final seconds of Kubrick’s odyssey.  Outside my window, the sky was black chocolate.

The evil fang was expertly torn from its long, deep resting place on the 12th of January.  The tooth is gone but the wisdom remains.  Unable to get to the theater during my month-long malaise, I found comfort in the Vanilla Sky soundtrack, a compilation of extraordinary, eclectic grace.  From Gabriel’s seminal “Solsbury Hill,” to a rapturous Radiohead ballad, to McCartney’s simple yet haunting title track, the record ebbs and flows with impeccable precision.

Spinning the disc numerous times, I asked myself, “Does the soundtrack numb the gums for the visual dental work the motion picture supposedly performs on the psyche?”  Okay, I don’t really talk to myself like that but I’m enjoying the bicuspid metaphor.  Smash cut:  two months later.  I’ve seen Vanilla Sky, jotted down some notes, but there’s something missing.  Context:  The reference point for the picture’s inspiration.  Enter another bird that’s flown up from the south.

“Let’s have an iced tea,” I say to the soft, Latino voice that’s just rang my cell phone.  “Now?” she asks.  “Yeah,” I respond, and fifteen minutes later, I’m greeting Maggi at Nick’s Restaurant, a mid-scale hang on Pico and La Cienega.  Everyone here knows her. They rap and flirt with her in Spanish.  The northern California-born student of Argentinean parents, who spends her nights popping corn and pouring Cokes at a Hollywood movie theater, is catching my Crowe speak.

“Did you hear Cameron Crowe on KCRW this morning?” I ask.  “Oh, no, I missed it,” she confessed.  “But you saw Vanilla Sky?” I shot back.  “Oh yes,” she responded.  “It was very strange, although, the film Abre Los Ojos is a bit stranger.  I’ve seen that five times.  I love every moment. I have the DVD.  I’ll run home and get it for you.”  Maggi’s utterances possess a distinct Penelope Cruz swirl.

“It was my first cover,” said the once almost but now truly famous filmmaker to DJ Nick Harcourt regarding what inspired Vanilla Sky.  “All my films were mine, I wrote them.   This was an experiment.  An interpretation.”  Indeed, Sky is a cover.  But not a cover like Britney Spears’s pandering, pathetic take on the Stone’s “Satisfaction,” from her sophomore hunk of processed cheese.  This was more like Todd Rundgren’s, “Good Vibrations,” his exactingly loyal homage to the Beach Boys from the Runt’s seminal cover collection, Faithful. More recently, Rufus Wainwright approached the same respectful plateau with his hypnotic “Across the Universe,” one of several brilliant Beatle takes from the exuberant I am Sam soundtrack.

I took Maggi’s DVD home and popped it in straight away.  Watching Abre Los Ojos is almost as surreal an experience as watching Vanilla Sky for the simple reason, they are virtually the same film, just born from different creative wombs.  Vanilla Sky is thicker, possessing a slew of subtle, hidden “Paul is Dead” style tricks that separates it from its Mexican-made predecessor.  One element in particular strafed my eyes and mind.

As a child of the Twilight Zone, I understand the launching pad from which Cam’s Vanilla Sky takes off.  This is dream play.  What is real?  What is not?  Can we distinguish the astral fine line that delineates one realm from the next?  You could easily miss it for it passes in a blink:  The courtroom scene from the classic Zone,  “Shadow Play” is playing on the television monitor near the film’s opening as the camera pans the room.   It’s a significant statement.

In that episode of early television’s most courageous, enlightening experiment, Dennis Weaver plays a man found guilty of murder and sentenced to the electric chair.   The scene that flies by in Sky has Weaver’s attorney pleading for his life but to no avail.   Weaver claims he stuck in a dream.  No one believes him, so it’s off to the chair.  The switch is pulled, fade to black, the players (actors) change places and the nightmare begins again.

“We know that a dream can be real, but who ever thought that reality could be a dream? We exist, of course, but how, in what way?  As we believe, as flesh and blood human beings, or are we simply part of someone’s feverish complicated nightmare?  Think about it, and then ask yourself, do you live here, in this country, in this world, or do you live instead…in the Twilight Zone?”

— Rod Serling “Shadow Play” aired May 5, 1961

Waking Life, one of 2001’s most ambitious cinematic achievements, is an ambient, animated journey into the dream/reality dichotomy.  The characters are nebulous, inoffensive; they float in and out, almost seamless.  Vanilla Sky flies in similar space but on entirely different wings.  We are elevated on this flight by the flapping of ebony feathers.  Cameron’s dream players are ugly, dark, self-serving.  The Elephant Man was deformed at birth.  His plight solicited immense compassion.  Tom Cruise is disfigured at the hands of his own hubris; hence, we care little for his physical, emotional and mental horror.  He offends us in either universe.

In showing us his Vanilla Sky, my filmmaking friend made a conscious decision to paint it black.  The black Crowe.  The dark side of his moon.  The balance.  He didn’t write the dark journey, but he embraced it, covered it, praised it and purged it.  For the first time in his career, Cameron Crowe made a conscious decision to send us out of the theater, uncomfortable.  Now that I trace my Beatles- keen memory, I realize that is exactly how I felt the first time I listened to the White Album.  Uncomfortable, with a touch of ‘enamored.’

Dear Prudence.  Blackbird.  Piggies. Sexy Sadie. Revolution #9.  Glass Onion. Helter Skelter.  Yes, the ethos of The Beatles White is embodied in the black folds of Cameron’s Sky.  The sun is up, the sky is blue and the sweet aviary song of the flittering Penelope Cruz segues into the corporate piggy- image of the swine- like board of directors.  Elsewhere, the creepy, sexy sadist, Cameron Diaz (“she made a fool of everyone”) careens her car into a cacophonous crash.  “Can you take me back where I came from?” signals a revolution of psychotic sequence.  “You know the place where nothing is real?”  The onion is glass but we shed no tears as we peel it’s shard like skin.  Up and down the slide we’re dragged.  “I got blisters on my fingers.”  No doubt from turning the pages of this endless analysis.  Hang in there.  We’re in the final reel.

*                                           *                                          *

The windy city is home to a very special young fellow named Tony.  He’s a collector of bootleg CDs, the endeavor that supplements his daily responsibility as a financial analyst for a Bank in Chicago.  He reached out to me almost a year ago after reading something I wrote for KNAC.COM.  He embodies what it is to be an archetype fan.

I was 12 when I saw Say Anything. Needless to say, that movie may have defined who I am today. Granted, my family and my friends have a lot to do with who I am, however, I can honestly say that “Say Anything” probably influenced my life more than any other piece of art…yes that is right, more than any Beatles, Bruce, Bon Jovi or U2 song! I saw the movie with my mother. After the movie, my Mom told me “You see, girls like nice guys”. I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Needless to say it was the best advice and the worse advice that my mother ever gave me. So if you ever see Cameron again, tell him that “Say Anything” had a big part of how I lived my life (and continue to do so). My friends tell me that movie is exactly like my life, except that I never get the girl.

You have to be a pure fan to touch a pure fan.  Tony’s words illustrate why, from Say Anything –his simple and sensitive directorial debut — Cameron Crowe was connected to his audience simply because HE was his audience.  His awareness of music’s power to convey a message over an image, or help develop the personality of an onscreen character, is second to none.  While songs in movies are often gratuitous to a scene — earwax for the eye play — there is no disconnection in Cam’s pix.   He could never make a silent film.  And on top of that, he’s proven — by his humble demeanor and deep devotion to rock goddess Nancy Wilson, the girl who stole his, uh, heart, almost twenty years ago — that nice guys not only get the girl but, sometimes, they even touch the sky.

Lonn Friend

Almost Conscious

Courtesy of Lonn Friend – April 3, 2002