Cameron Crowe managed to snare the use of four classic Led Zeppelin songs for his forthcoming movie, Almost Famous, much to his surprise. The hard rockers are notoriously stingy with their catalog, and wouldn’t let Crowe use “When the Levee Breaks” from “Led Zeppelin IV” in his debut 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High (to coincide with the dialogue where Brian Backer’s character Rat declared side two of “Led Zeppelin IV” to be “the best make-out music”). Instead of “Levee,” Crowe was forced to substitute “Kashmir,” from the band’s Physical Graffiti, much to the consternation of Led Zep purists everywhere.
This time out, Crowe was not only eighteen years older and wiser, but took an early cut of the movie to London for Robert Plant and Jimmy Page to see, before asking for permission to use their songs. They were so enthralled with the movie — which actually borrows from the time Crowe spent on the road with them for a Rolling Stone story — that they gave their OK for the use of four of their songs, including “That’s the Way,” which will appear on the soundtrack (out on Dreamworks Sept. 12). As for the movie itself, in theatres Sept. 15, it’s a semi-autobiographical story of a journalist on tour with a fictional band dubbed Stillwater, an amalgam of all the bands Crowe covered for Rolling Stone. Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready stars as one of the Stillwater members, while Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Crowe’s mentor, legendary music critic Lester Bangs. Peter Frampton (the film’s music director), Heart’s Nancy Wilson (Crowe’s wife) and Red House Painters’ Mark Kozelek also make brief appearances.