Almost Famous reminds me why I want to be a music journalist

Most of all, this film tells me this: you can be a fan and be a journalist at the same time — because at the heart of both roles is a true, unyielding love for music.

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The 20-year anniversary of Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous — a clear snapshot into the rock n’ roll world of music journalism in the 1970’s — was last week. While it’s autobiographical and based on Cameron’s own chaotic jump into the industry, it’s much more than that.

This was my first time ever seeing this film — shocking considering it’s my sole dream in life to become a professional music journalist. While I can’t say that this film disappointed in any sense (in fact, it was really interesting to see a film which focused on a music journalist) — a part of me nostalgically still wishes that music journalism was still so easy to get into as it was for William Miller.

But, it was a different era, and ultimately the message of the film still resonates today. It’s about music, and the power of that music, and the fans — the ones who dedicate themselves to the thrill of being front row, to staying up for midnight releases, to knowing the popular songs and the not-so-popular ones too.

As a character in the film so honestly puts it, “They don’t even know what it is to be a fan, y’know? To truly love some silly piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.”

What I took away from Almost Famous — aside from the sheer pleasure that my favorite Elton John song was featured (‘Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters’ ) — is that the film is a love letter of sorts to chasing your dream job, even if it’s hard and crazy at times. Ultimately, it’s the experience that makes it worth it.

Moreso, in today’s pandemic era, the movie brought to my attention to how the industry has changed. It’s not often that a writer is able to join a band on tour to write a feature piece, but it begs the question: how can we approach music journalism in a way that not only innovates the industry as it is now, but also go back to the roots — to get really close with artists on a comfortable level where they feel like they can be completely honest with you?

In Almost Famous William is referred to as the ‘enemy’ more than once by a band member and Rolling Stone is notorious for its scathing stances — but it’s clear he is more friend than foe. The film examines the relationship between musicians and journalists they work with and how the role of being a fan works into this emotional landscape.

Most of all, this film tells me this: you can be a fan and be a journalist at the same time — because at the heart of both roles is a true, unyielding love for music.

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