Feb 21, 2018
Songwriter Diane Warren is overdue for an Oscar, and she has no reservations about admitting it
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Songwriter Diane Warren is overdue for an Oscar, and she has no reservations about admitting it.
"I am not going to say, 'I don't need to win. I don't care,'" Warren said in a phone interview. "I want to win. Come on, it's been eight times that I haven't."
Warren joked she was the Susan Lucci of songwriters. Her previous nominations include well-known songs like "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," by Aerosmith, featured in "Armageddon," and Trisha Yearwood's "How Do I Live," featured in "Con Air."
But the Grammy-winning songwriter said she's never been more excited for a nomination than she is for "Stand Up for Something," which she wrote for the Thurgood Marshall biopic "Marshall." The song, nominated for best original song, features singer Andra Day and was co-written with rapper Common.
The 90th annual Academy Awards will air live on ABC on March 4.
"It would be really great if it does (win)," Warren said. "I'll probably faint."
Warren thought her best chance at winning an Oscar came in 2015 when a song she wrote with Lady Gaga, "Til It Happens to You," was nominated after appearing in a documentary about sexual assault on campus called "The Hunting Ground."
Warren said she was so sure the song would win that a friend posted copies of her planned acceptance speech around her home so she could practice it. The song was incredibly personal to both writers, and Lady Gaga delivered an unforgettable Oscar performance in 2016 surrounded by assault survivors.
"I looked around and everybody is sobbing," Warren recalls of the performance.
Ultimately Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes won in the best original song category for "Writing's on the Wall" from "Spectre." But Warren did get to give her speech when she won an Emmy for outstanding original music and lyrics.
This latest nominated song feels like an extension of "Til It Happens to You," Warren said.
"The interesting thing about those two songs is 'Till It Happens to You' is a very strong and powerful statement. But 'Stand Up for Something' is action, so the songs together, it's almost like they are part of the same," Warren said. "It's a continuation."
Warren had already started the song and was thinking about asking Common to help her add a rap. Then they randomly met on an airplane and he was immediately interested.
"I wanted to capture the feel of those songs in the '60s, those really inspiring songs like 'A Change Is Gonna Come' or 'People Get Ready,'" Warren said. "Even with all the turmoil going on, these songs just want to make you march and change the world."
But most importantly, Warren was careful with the lyrics to not sound preachy and let listeners derive their own meaning. That has made the song resonate, Warren said.
"It's more timely every day," Warren said. "Stand up for something. We have to stand up for everything. Women's rights, civil rights, human rights. The right to go to a concert and not get shot."
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