“I am a golden god!” shouts (fictional) rock star Russell Hammond from a rooftop in Topeka, Kansas in a memorable and highly-quotable scene from the 2000 film Almost Famous. That movie, for which writer-director Cameron Crowe won an Oscar for Original Screenplay, has recently been adapted into a musical, giving fans even more fodder for quotable quotes—in the form of lyrics.
Based on Crowe's own younger years as a music journalist, Almost Famous stars Casey Likes as William Miller, a teen writer who is hired by Rolling Stone to go on tour with an up-and-coming rock band. The score features a few of the popular rock songs highlighted in the movie, but also a new score by Crowe and Tony and Pulitzer winner Tom Kitt. It opened November 3 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (and Almost Famous cast album will be released March 17, 2023).
To celebrate this brand new musical on Broadway, Playbill asked the company about their favorite lyrics from the shows. Read on below as the casts and creative team answer, "What's your favorite lyric and why?"
Cameron Crowe, Book and Lyrics:
"From trail-blazing people
To navel-gazing people
We’re in love with how great we are
We declare that we’re devout
While we’re busy selling out"
I love this excerpt from “Elaine’s Lecture,” because Tom Kitt perfectly distills Elaine Miller’s increasingly helpless view of society’s moral decay. And it makes me laugh every time.
Tom Kitt, Music and Lyrics:
One of my favorite lyrics from Almost Famous is in the song Lost In New York City where William Miller sings:
"Here on 17th Street, 3,000 miles away
Brought here by a feeling, but that feeling left today
The people simply point and stare
The cabs won’t take me anywhere
And it starts to feel like I don’t have a prayer…
‘Cause I’m lost in New York City
Blocked out from the sun
Lost among these shadows, hiding everyone
The subways have all stopped running, so the rats are free to roam
Can I find my way home?"
This lyric resonates with me because it speaks to something we all feel when the events in our life become so intense that it seems like our surroundings are aligned against us. Having experienced the pandemic here in NYC, and seeing first-hand how all the poetry and beauty of the city became isolation and fear, I found myself going to this song over and over for comfort and catharsis.
Anika Larsen (Elaine Miller):
My favorite lyrics in the show are in the song “Everybody’s Coming Together” because I think they contain the solutions to the world’s ills! The title reflects the longing for communion we all felt during the pandemic. The song goes on to say, “People being good to each other…” At a time that feels frighteningly contentious and violent, these words sung sweetly by the company each night feel like a balm. And they go on to sing, “Come join the revolution tonight./ Be part of the solution tonight… and play.” As someone who decided to join the climate revolution because I need to be able to look my little boys in the eyes and tell them I really tried, I love the idea of singing about how we all need to be part of the solution! And play! Can’t forget to play! Instruments, soccer, roles in musicals, hide-and-seek, Twister, whatever! Play!
Van Hughes (Freddy/David Felton/Ensemble):
"I was a lost soul,
but now thanks to you,
We're all lonely travelers and artists until we come together as family. This show highlights so many of our talents and gives us a place to spread our love with these incredible audiences.
Katie Ladner (Sapphire):
My favorite lyrics are from “The Real World.”
“I am nerves, and fear,
but I’ve never felt more free.”
Having nerves and feeling fear are uncomfortable and are often seen as negative. But sometimes we need to remember that those human emotions are there to remind us we aren’t perfect and we are alive: Emotional butterflies.
Julia Cassandra (Estrella):
“I look back to see where I’ve been
Watch it fade to black so my life can begin.”
It’s a lyric in the opening number and it comes as the first super exciting musical explosion of the show. It really introduces the theme of moving forward and searching for a new phase of life. I love the idea of stopping to acknowledge the past and then leaving it behind to become who you really are.
Daniel Sovich (Darryl/Marlon):
Not specifically a lyric but I’ve always loved the line (now more than ever):
“We play for fans not critics.”
Art is about unapologetically expressing emotion and our show does that so well. Our show brings joy to people and though critics don’t feel it says anything important, I would argue that as the world is beginning to step out of a three-year depression, this show couldn’t be more important than it is now.
Rob Colletti (Lester Bangs):
“And where will it all end up?
How will we save us from us?
Our fall will not come with an explosion
But with the continued dissolution of trust.
But as Goethe says, ‘Enjoy when you can
And endure what you must.’”
This show is littered with lyrical brilliance from Cameron and Tom, not just in terms of poetic accomplishment, but in terms of how the lyrical depth varies from character to character. There were seven or eight places in the score that I considered, but ultimately I landed on this because it’s such a magnetic, conscientious, omnipotent lyric.
Elaine, William’s mother, opens Act 2 rattled to her core by the lack of her son in her life. In a scene that is expanded from the movie, Elaine not only postulates about her primary plot directive, she delivers a jarring prophecy about the world at large at the time of the play and the world we currently live in.
The character is based off the real-life Alice Crowe, a shining star of brilliance and the inspiration for the vast majority of the story of Almost Famous. How fitting that her beautiful musical soliloquy at the top of Act 2 not only provides context and depth for the incredible story we are witnessing unfold before our eyes, but also gives us a warning for our lives in the present day. Particularly in a world where the idea of “trust” from our world leaders is in disarray, this lyric resonates on every level of accomplishment possible in the art form of musical theatre.