‘Singles’ Soundtrack Creates Grunge Time Capsule

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Cameron Crowe’s brilliance as a cinematic tastemaker may have waned over the years, but the filmmaker’s reputation as a rock insider was once beyond reproach. While no doubt indulging in a bit of self-mythologizing about his time as an actual teenage writer for rolling stonethe 2000 Crowe movie almost known remains a decidedly lived-in portrait of mid-level rock success. And during the years 1992 Simple turned out to be a pre-Friends A love story between the young, attractive, coffee-loving Gen Xers, this film’s soundtrack became an irreplaceable landmark in the birth of Seattle’s music scene.

Crowe, who fell in love with Seattle-area native and rock star Nancy Wilson of Heart, immersed himself in the burgeoning grunge scene of the early ’90s with prescience and drive. Simple (the film) features supporting actor roles from several personalities from the Seattle rock scene. Eddie Vedder (just arrived from California to join the band Mookie Blaylock, just before they changed their name to Pearl Jam) and fellow Pearl Jam members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament form the second tier band of the co-star Matt Dillon, à la Mudhoney, Citizen Dick. . (Their hit song “Touch Me I’m Dick” parodies Mudhoney’s “Touch Me I’m Sick”). car speakers.

Additionally, the film’s stars (Dillon, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgewick, Bridget Fonda and a pre-Thread Jim True-Frost) are all looking for a connection at various Seattle rock hotspots, where Crowe captured live performances from Soundgarden (doing “Birth Ritual”), Alice in Chains (“Would?”), and Pearl Jam (“Breath “, “State of Love and Trust”). Indeed, when the original soundtrack of the film was released on June 30, 1992, Simple represented a time capsule of bands and an entire music scene, about to explode internationally.

Aided by the landmark success of the Nirvana era Not serious in September 1991, Simple (the soundtrack) eventually went double platinum, serving as something of a Seattle grunge sampler for curious and hungry audiences. And while accusations have been leveled at Crowe of jumping on the bandwagon, the truth is that Simple was in development long before anyone outside of Seattle knew the word “grunge”. That’s because Warner Bros., unsure how to market Crowe’s film, sat on Simple‘ release for nine full months. Ultimately, the soundtrack (as usual, meticulously put together by the filmmaker) arrived three months before the film’s release, in part to capitalize on the success of Nirvana.

Listen to “State of Love and Trust” by Pearl Jam

As a soundtrack, there’s a definite mixtape feel to it, as it’s always been with Crowe’s musical avant-garde. Acting as a sort of love letter to Seattle’s rock history, it includes a track by Jimi Hendrix (the swoony “May This Be Love”) as well as tracks by Mother Love Bone, Screaming Trees and the Lovemongers ( the Wilson Sisters’ Heart side project), alongside numbers Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. Crowe even nods to a bit of Seattle’s infamous rock lore, including the Lovemongers’ cover of “The Battle of Evermore” to reference the possibly apocryphal Led Zeppelin Mud Shark incident. (Which reportedly happened at the Edgewater Inn in Seattle.)

And while the Smashing Pumpkins (“Drown”) and Paul Westerberg (lending two of his early post-Replacements compositions) non-Seattleites are also on board, it’s hard to complain. Westerberg’s painful early ’90s songs “Waiting for Somebody” and “Dyslexic Heart” serve as central support for the film’s turbulent and ardent love lives, with Crowe calling Westerberg’s demo of “Dyslexic Heart” “the spirit of casualness, not too thoughtful”. , love of music. He’s not wrong.

But one of Simple‘Seattle’s most enduring contributions to the sound have essentially come from a blunder. In a deleted scene from the film, we see chastened Dillon frontman Cliff Poncier after Citizen Dick broke up peddling his self-produced solo project, Poncier, as he walks the streets. Crowe asked Jeff Ament to design a fake EP of the genre that a middle-aged, disillusioned former frontman could release after a breakup. Originally just an expertly designed prop cassette case (colorful Kinkos label and all), Poncier eventually became an unlikely reality thanks to Chris Cornell, who thought it would be fun to write and record the five listed songs. on the tape.

Conceiving a copy of his completed demo (with support from Vedder, Ament, and Gossard) into Crowe’s hands as a joke, Cornell ended up contributing not only to the Simple soundtrack but to his future musical legacy. Taking inspiration from the fictional tracks of Ament, Cornell created the ballad “Seasons” (track 3 on the soundtrack), “Spoonman” (a future major hit for Soundgarden on their superunknown album) and “Flutter Girl” (which emerged on Cornell’s 1999 solo album, morning of euphoria).

The other two songs, “Nowhere but You” and “Missing” appeared as a Cornell B-side and part of Temple of the Dog’s 2016 tour, respectively.

Listen to “Seasons” by Chris Cornell

In the years following the resounding success of almost known, Crowe the filmmaker seems to have lost his way somewhat. The 2005 twee Elizabethtown extracted Crowe’s formula to widely ridiculed effect, while 2011 We bought a zoo was forgettable and 2015 Aloha was dogged by deaf racial choices (while being pretty forgettable). Crowe did better to stick to the music, with his documentaries The union (chronicle of the collaboration of Elton John and Leon Russell on the album of the same name) and the career retrospective Pearl Jam Twenty garnering much more success.

Yet the Simple The soundtrack remains a testament to Crowe’s sincere love and appreciation for the rock scene. Design a two-disc deluxe reissue of the Simple soundtrack in 2017, including Cornell’s Poncier demos and songs from the Seattle Blood Circus and Truly stages, Crowe kept alive the mixtape vibe of his grunge-era project from long ago. The release, in a sad coincidence, came just a day after Cornell killed himself after a Soundgarden show in Detroit, perhaps the final nail in the coffin of that era.

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