In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: We’re talking about songs we heard once and then had to seek out.
Almost Famous hit the theaters in 2000 and provided a soundtrack deeply rooted in early ’70s rock, the decade director Cameron Crowe came of age in. Containing countless staples of the era, only 17 songs made the cut, including tracks from greats such as Led Zeppelin, Cat Stevens, and Nancy Wilson. Best known as one half of the duo Heart, Wilson, however, is credited on the soundtrack as Stillwater—the fictional band William Miller (Patrick Fugit) runs off with in the spirit of rock writing—having helped co-write three of the band’s five songs with her then-husband Crowe. (The remaining two were co-penned by Peter Frampton.) And although Stillwater slays, it’s Wilson’s short instrumental “Cabin In The Air” that has stuck with me all these years. Originally unavailable, Crowe released it on his official website The Uncool in the summer of 2012.
I can’t recall exactly, but I probably didn’t see this film until ’05 or ’06, after borrowing the DVD from my cooler, older sister (how fitting, even without a note prompting me to light a candle). What I do remember is the song soundtracking Penny’s (Kate Hudson) airline departure from New York and my seemingly endless search for a copy of it. Even though the internet had already seen the rise and fall of Napster, which only resulted in more ways to easily find music in the early ’00s, Crowe kept a tight lock on any work associated with his film. Once though, in the fall 2009, I thought I was going to get it after taking a college course from Jim DeRogatis, who had consulted on the film. He tried to secure the track for me, but his luck was just as bad as mine. I was once again foiled. I never lost hope though, and the sparse and slowly climbing sound of mandolins and guitar was never far from my mind, encouraging me to search for it online from time to time. Once found—about a month or so after it was released—I was thrilled, and have been playing it ever since with a little secret of my own in mind.