The Almost Famous soundtrack is full of great songs, both beloved rock classics and underappreciated deep cuts. Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, Almost Famous follows young writer William Miller’s escapades on the road with the fictional rock band Stillwater in the 1970s. It’s a semi-autobiographical story drawn from Crowe’s own experiences as a teenage music journalist for Rolling Stone. Since the entire narrative revolves around music, the Almost Famous soundtrack is more important than that of the average movie. It plays like a classic rock and roll playlist. Almost Famous has a few original songs attributed to Stillwater, but the majority of its soundtrack comprises licensed hits.
Almost Famous was widely praised by critics as one of the greatest movies of 2000 and has since become a beloved cult classic. Crowe won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his Almost Famous script, and his music choices earned a Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media. The Almost Famous soundtrack features hit songs by such legendary artists as Elton John, Led Zeppelin, and Simon & Garfunkel. It has studio recordings by The Who and The Beach Boys, as well as live recordings by David Bowie and The Allman Brothers Band.
Here is every song on the Almost Famous soundtrack album, in order:
“America” by Simon & Garfunkel “Sparks” by The Who “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference” by Todd Rundgren “I’ve Seen All Good People: Your Move” by Yes “Feel Flows” by The Beach Boys “Fever Dog” by Stillwater “Every Picture Tells a Story” by Rod Stewart “Mr. Farmer” by The Seeds “One Way Out” by The Allman Brothers Band “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd “That’s the Way” by Led Zeppelin “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John “Lucky Trumble” by Nancy Wilson “I’m Waiting for the Man” by David Bowie “The Wind” by Cat Stevens “Slip Away” by Clarence Carter “Something in the Air” by Thunderclap Newman
When Each Song Plays In Almost Famous
“America” by Simon & Garfunkel – William’s sister Anita plays this record for her mother to explain why she’s leaving home to become a flight attendant.
“Sparks” by The Who – This song is playing when the movie transitions from young William listening to The Who’s Tommy album to an older William sitting in a classroom. The use of The Who’s “Sparks” in Almost Famous demonstrates William’s growing obsession with rock music after finding Anita’s secret stash of albums.
“It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference” by Todd Rundgren – This song can be heard in the diner as Lester Bangs tells William what it takes to make it as a music journalist. Lester is one of the characters in Almost Famous based on a real person.
“I’ve Seen All Good People: Your Move” by Yes – This song plays as Stillwater’s road crew breaks down their equipment after a show.
“Feel Flows” by The Beach Boys – This song can be heard backstage after William meets Penny and Stillwater for the first time. It plays again over the Polaroid montage at the end of the movie.
“Fever Dog” by Stillwater – This song by Almost Famous’ fictional rock band Stillwater is played when the band takes the stage for the first time and William stands on the sidelines with Penny.
“Every Picture Tells a Story” by Rod Stewart – This song can be heard during the party scene at the hotel in Los Angeles.
“Mr. Farmer” by The Seeds – This is the second song that Lester plays when he talks to William about writing for Rolling Stone.
“One Way Out” by The Allman Brothers Band – A live version of this song plays as the Almost Famous tour begins. Other than it being a great song, Crowe had a nostalgic reason to include The Allman Brothers Band on the soundtrack at this crucial juncture in the movie. According to Gregg Allman’s memoir My Cross to Bear, Crowe primarily drew the events of the script from his experiences on the road with The Allman Brothers Band.
“Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd – This thoughtful Lynyrd Skynyrd classic can be heard when Stillwater is hanging out at the pool and Russell tells William what he can and can’t include in the Rolling Stone cover story. Russell tells William to make the band look cool.
“That’s the Way” by Led Zeppelin – This Led Zeppelin song plays when the tour bus crashes through the gate. It continues as William talks to Penny. Led Zeppelin are notoriously picky about letting filmmakers use their music on their movies’ soundtracks, but they had previously permitted Crowe to use “Kashmir” on the soundtrack for Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
“Tiny Dancer” by Elton John – As the band rides the tour bus in silence, they start to sing this hit song one by one until they’re all singing together. This use of Elton John’s song in the movie has gone on to become one of the most iconic musical moments in film history.
“Lucky Trumble” by Nancy Wilson – This song can be heard when William plays a staring game with Penny.
“I’m Waiting for the Man” by David Bowie – A live version of this song, taken from the album Live Santa Monica ’72, plays as Stillwater arrives in Cleveland and Russell speaks to William’s mom on the phone.
“The Wind” by Cat Stevens – This song is playing when Penny dances alone in an empty concert pit after the Cleveland gig.
“Slip Away” by Clarence Carter – This song plays in the background of “the road manager poker party” with Stillwater, their road manager, and the road managers for several other musicians.
“Something in the Air” by Thunderclap Newman – This song is playing when Penny brings William to meet everybody at the hotel. It continues as Polexia tells William that Penny and Russell will get together.
The Three Versions Of The Almost Famous Soundtrack
The official soundtrack album for Almost Famous, consisting of the 17 songs listed above, is available for streaming at the usual outlets. In 2021, Universal Music released a special 20th-anniversary edition of the soundtrack consisting of two CDs. The first disc is mostly the same as the original soundtrack album save for some alternate and extended versions of songs. The second disc includes songs from the movie that were not on the official soundtrack, including three more Stillwater tunes.
Simultaneously, there was a massive 102-track Super Deluxe Edition box set comprised of five CDs and seven LPs, marking the first time all the music from Almost Famous was released in one deluxe set. This includes everything playing on a TV in the background in addition to tunes underscoring scenes, plus many more Stillwater songs, alternate versions of songs, demos, original score tracks by Nancy Wison, and dialogue snippets from the movie.
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