Frances McDormand just wants to sing karaoke. She suggested this last night at the 2021 Oscars, which was a pretty lame night, save for her screaming and unsurprisingly brilliant acceptance speech for Best Actress – her third time winning the award. “When you have voices like Leslie [Odom Jr.] and Marcus [Mumford], we should add a karaoke bar, ”she said.
Twenty years ago last fall McDormand starred in Almost known like Elaine Miller, a college professor who often told her aspiring music journalist son that rock & roll was about “drugs and promiscuous sex.” She was the kind of mom who made soy chops and celebrated Christmas in September when she knew they wouldn’t be marketed. And, in a deleted scene from Cameron Crowe’s film, he is asked to endure the eight minutes and two seconds of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”.
In the video above, Elaine arrives home and finds William (Patrick Fugit) in the living room with his journalism teacher and school counselor Mrs. Deegan, who is played by Crowe’s real mother, Alice. Anita’s boyfriend Darryl is also there, pretending to be moral support. The teacher informs Elaine that Rolling stone assigned William an article on Stillwater, and must miss four days of school to go with them on the road. She instantly says no, citing a line from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to which William quickly reciprocates.
In an effort to prove to his mother that rock is to be taken seriously, he plays his “Stairway to Heaven”, intelligently telling her that it is filled with JRR Tolkien credentials. “This song will change your life,” he says. The scene lasts the entire song, as Elaine opens a diary while everyone plays the drums on the 1971 classic. “They look like nice kids,” she says at the end. “Is it meant to uplift humanity? Sure. Let’s raise humanity, after we sell you drugs and sex. “
The fact that McDormand and Fugit match up in Orange Seventies isn’t discussed often enough here, and while the scene was cut, you can still get a glimpse of the outfits in the final film version. “Frances made listening the most entertaining thing I have ever seen,” said Crowe Rolling stone last august. “I was sure we would have the full length of the scene and it would just be kind of a hilarious kind of intermission in the movie, where you’re now going to listen to ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and watch Frances McDormand stand up. the pain of it. I thought maybe we could save that much time. “
Sadly they didn’t, but luckily it lives on YouTube. Led Zeppelin denied the use of their song, but instead gave Crowe “Bron-Yr-Aur”, “That’s the Way”, “Tangerine”, “Misty Mountain Hop” and “The Rain Song”. “It was a huge buoy to swim in,” Crowe said, “because without Led Zeppelin it’s just not the same movie.”
McDormand was nominated for Best Supporting Actress Almost known, but lost to Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock. If the Academy knows what’s good for them, they should listen to McDormand and add a karaoke bar at next year’s ceremony (and also, maybe, a host). McDormand would sing “Stairway to Heaven” and anyone could drum up the tune – presumably six feet apart.