Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical rock picture Almost Famous has a title that borders on genius: Like the movie, it’s thoughtful, sad, and funny in equal parts, with a pithiness that sticks in the mind. But according to the hand-written notes from the brainstorming session that eventually produced it, the movie’s title could have been a lot closer, quality-wise, to We Bought A Zoo than Fast Times At Ridgemont High.
Crowe recently shared these notes with Empire magazine as part of a celebration of its 300th issue—and looking through them, there’s some pretty dire stuff. Crowe’s original choice, Untitled, is merely blandly forgettable. But others—like Rewind Forward, and the entire page that starts with Words By Heart, detours through Words Of A Song, and ends with Words And Music, with another half-dozen things Crowe tried to match Words to along the way—are actively execrable.
Many of the titles (My Back Pages, Writer In My Soul) focus their perspective on the character who acts as Crowe’s surrogate, 15-year-old writer William Miller (played by Patrick Fugit). And by doing so, they lose the power of Almost Famous, a phrase which applies to every character in the film, rocker, writer, and follower alike.
The only title on the list that’s even vaguely passable—other than, of course, the one Crowe eventually chose, which sits nestled between Stillwater and Cameron Crowe’s Tangerine like a diamond resting between two turds—is Momentarily Cool, which reads like a clue you’d give if you drew Almost Famous on The $10,000 Pyramid.
Anyway, it’s a testament to Crowe’s instincts that he was able to pick the wheat from the mountains of chaff here, and a testament to his humility that he was willing to share these notes at all. You can see all three pages of them on Crowe’s blog, The Uncool, another happily rejected title.