Writer/director Cameron Crowe offers some town counsel to Alison Jones...
"I liked the idea of beginning our movie with death, the place where so many movies end, and to say 'OK, where do we go from here'. The only answer is life, and that's the end of our movie."
The death the director Cameron Crowe is talking about is that of Mitch Baylor, whose unfortunate passing interrupts his son Drew's (Orlando Bloom) plans to kill himself because his ill-conceived trainer design has just ruined the shoe company he worked for.
Instead of impaling himself on a knife strapped to his hi-tech exercise bike, Drew has to put the hara kiri on hold to fly to Kentucky to retrieve the body of Mitch from the embrace of the eccentric relatives he was visiting.
But this story, Elizabethtown, actually started many years earlier with a real death, that of Cameron's father who collapsed with a fatal heart attack while visiting relatives in Kentucky.
Poignantly he died just as he was sharing with them his delight over a rave review that Cameron had received for his directorial debut, Say Anything, an engaging coming of age drama that made a star of John Cusack.
However, Cameron admits that in his early years as a writer (and he started very early, the prodigiously gifted Crowe was writing for music magazines from the age of 13 and joined the staff of legendary music magazine Rolling Stone at 15), he had always resisted subjects he felt were too personal.
"Then when I turned 18 I wrote an article for Rolling Stone called 'How I learned about Sex'. I had run out of other ways to tell the story so I wrote it in the first person. It was instantly a breakthrough for me.
People wrote me letters, said 'I felt you were writing about my life too'.
"The more personal the story the more it seemed to matter to people. After Almost Famous I was asked a lot 'What about your dad, What was he like?'
Almost Famous was a 70s set semi-autobiographical story based on Cameron's experiences as a teenage reporter for Rolling Stone.
Frances McDormand gave a tart yet tender performance as the mother of the central character.
In Elizabethtown Cameron decided the time had come to pay his respects to his father.
"I'd written a short story about him called My Father's Highway. It was one of my favourites but it just lived in a drawer."
He concentrated on other projects, directing the quirky grunge drama Singles, then the peerless romantic comedy drama Jerry Maguire, starring Tom Cruise (who executive produces Elizabethtown), the underrated Almost Famous and the ambitious, though flawed Vanilla Sky, which reunited him with Cruise.
Then one day Cameron found himself on the road with rock band Heart, fronted by his wife Nancy.
Driving through Kentucky he was reminded of the last time he had travelled this way - for his father's funeral.
Impulsively he got off the bus and went on an impromptu road trip and wrote the script for the film.
The idea of having Drew as the cause of a major business disaster came because Cameron "wanted to make a comment on the obsession with success and failure we see so often in America.
"People's lives are made up with 'how successful am I?'. In the beginning, Orlando's character Drew is defined by that. But life comes along and trumps that issue in a big way by saying 'Here is real tragedy. Here is a matter of life and death and it is bigger than your failure'."
Drew embarks on a journey of self discovery, reconnecting with the father he never truly knew by driving his ashes across America, accompanied by a mix tape thoughtfully provided by kooky air hostess/love interest Claire (Kirsten Dunst).
The fact music was going to be involved in a Cameron Crowe film was beyond inevitable. He isn't just passionate about it, it borders on the obsessional.
He admits there are times that it can get in the way of the work, that he feels he is making a film to accompany the music rather then the other way round.
"I have a notebook that's packed with songs I want to be part of the movie I am working on. At a certain point the notebook becomes twice as big as the script. I'll have 50 songs for one scene.
"Music helps you understand a story in your heart and soul along with words and images."
Orlando Bloom commented that Crowe would often let his music do the directing for him.
"He uses it as a tool, He would play a tune in between a take or just before rolling a take to sort of set the mood. Occasionally in the middle of a take he would blast out a tune and you would be like 'I guess that take wasn't going too well'.
"But what it did was give this joyful sense of irreverence to time and time is the most expensive thing on a film set. So when a director can just let the film roll and the clock tick and music play and you can flip in and out of the moment, it is the most liberating experience for an actor."
Cameron's aim is not just to produce a best selling soundtrack but to create a work that reaches out and touches the audience in some way.
"I want a movie that, by the end of it, will make you step out of the theatre, look around you and see the opportunity you might not have seen a couple of hours earlier.
"I have always felt that when fear is everywhere and people feel disconnected and paranoid about what could be happening the next day there are two things that comfort people. One is a story that feels like a personal tale that you can relate to, the second is a sense of community, that you are not alone in the world.
"If you take this story into your hearts it might help you get through your daily rituals or fears by knowing you are not alone."
* Elizabethtown is now on general release.