The deleted "Stairway to Heaven" scene from "Almost Famous"

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/08/13/the-deleted-stairway-to-heav.html

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It never ends, does it…

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I’m not sure “conservative” is how I’d describe this character. She was a college professor who had her younger child skip multiple grades to matriculate high school as a 12-year-old. She was not a helicopter parent, allowing her 15-year-old son to travel unaccompanied with a rock band.

It appeared that her reaction to music and drugs stemmed from her was observations as a professor. Furthermore, we can look at her daughter’s choice to become a flight attendant as a rebellious act. When the daughter leaves, the mother sighs and says something about her being 18 and that she can’t stop her.

I completely identified with this time period having spent my childhood in the 60s and 70s. My mother wouldn’t let us watch Yellow Submarine because of the violence and had issues with violent movies. She also wouldn’t allow my sister and I to own a Barbie because it gave young girls false expectations. But both my parents allowed us to spend the day running around without any supervision.

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What I love most about that deleted scene is its depiction of the importance of adult allies to intelligent and passionate young people. Even if you’re now an Old, I’m sure you can still name all of the ones who were in your own young life.

Good parents – including politically progressive ones – understandably want to protect their children from a harsh, unfair and unforgiving world; it’s up to the teachers, the counselors, the aunts and uncles, the family friends to convince them to take a chance and let the kids rock out a little.

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I wonder why the band wouldn’t allow it. They play the whole song, although I think it’s edited a bit in the middle. I also suspect the licensing fees for such a long except would have been very expensive.

Oh, and the idea that if you could just get the right people to listen to the right song and have them have an ephiphany is bascially the goal of every nerdy music fan.

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Of course my favorite scene is still in the movie.

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Would you let your teenage son tour four days with a rock band? How about your daughter?

She isn’t conservative in the modern US sense, but when I was in my teens and early 20s (when this film was released) I used to associate that kind of attitude with what One Nation conservatism was in Britain. They weren’t as right wing as the Thatcherites or the High Tories, but were still conservative. Liberalism was and still is big on individual freedom (this includes New Labour), socialism is split between older socially conservative socialists and the more likely to be younger libertarian-socialists. The character doesn’t really fit with any of those, so I fall back on One Nation conservative as the closest equivalent.

It feels that mainstream politics has taken a step to the right since then, and even in Britain some of what was considered conservative is now liberal, and some of liberalism is now considered socialist.

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Led Zeppelin also wouldn’t let Mike Meyers play the first five notes of Stairway in the Wayne’s World home video release…

I remember being really disappointed that they ruined a great joke for no good reason.

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Somehow Jack Black got a little chunk of Led Zeppelin into the van scene in School of Rock. Whats the story there?

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“From the moment that tone arm goes down on that final fat cut of side two of Led Zeppelin IV…”

pushes up nerd glasses – actually, it’s the ending track on side ONE, cough…

speaking as a life-long Zep fan, this scene is a testament to the incredible skill of Frances McDormand. she had to listen to Stairway over and over for an entire day to get this scene, and every time, she had to act like she’s hearing it for the first time. I love the band, but i couldn’t do it.

Also, on the podcast, Cameron said that the reason the scene was cut was that it is just too long. i don’t recall him saying Zeppeling had anything to do with it. I know that in the past they have said no to crucial things like this and it has really affected the movie to me (looking at YOU, “Dazed and Confused,” with not a single track by Zep in the otherwise perfect soundtrack! the movie is even NAMED after a Zep song!!) – but i don’t see why they would’ve had any problem with this scene.

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i don’t know if the scene would have added or detracted from the final product, but i really like the journalism teacher and it’s a shame her part was cut. the scene also made me listen to stairway in a way that i probably haven’t heard/felt it since i was 15.

it seems unlikely that crowe would be surprised about not being able to get the rights to stairway, as he’d encountered a similar barrier with “fast times” when a character mentions “side 1 of led zeppelin IV” but the next music we here is from physical graffiti, an inconsistency that crowe claimed was due to having the rights to one but not the other.

for me, the scene that really made this film magic for me was the main character listening to his sister’s records, with the who’s “sparks” playing. the who was a band i didn’t think i liked for a long time because they weren’t “serious” enough for my moody teenage self, until somebody left a cassette of who’s next in my car and i started listening to it out of boredom and then never stopped. i lived in my car for many cold winter nights, and i still remember drifting off to sleep with that tape playing before jolting awake with the fear that i was going to asphyxiate myself with the engine running for heat.

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that scene bugs me to this day. i can’t resist calling out how wrong it is EVERY. TIME.

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See, I’ve always took that as a joke about the completely uncool Rat trying to follow Damone’s instructions, and failing.

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yeah, that works as a way to save the scene, but i still find it jarring every time, lol

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I can’t say I’m sorry that scene didn’t make the final cut. To me, it seems extremely labored and self-indulgent. There’s nothing communicated in that scene that isn’t better communicated by the rest of the film. It just would have brought the whole film to a halt for twelve unnecessary minutes, essentially just to explain why the mother decides it’s okay to let her son go do the story. And it may have weakened later scenes (like the Hey Mom scene posted above) in which his mother remains skeptical and concerned.

Good call, Cameron!

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Me, too. I was all sorts of confused as to why his sister’s boyfriend (the one who helped her move out) would be back in the house helping William.

I did like seeing Crowe’s mom play air drums, though.

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