One day in the middle of March this year I was unbelievably lucky to have a private Skype call with well-established songwriter Diane Warren, a long distance call from the UK to LA. Diane has written for legendary acts such as Cher, Aerosmith, Toni Braxton, Céline Dion, Mariah Carey, and most recently, Lady Gaga. She has won a wealth of awards in her lengthy career, including five Golden Globe nominations, seven Academy Award nominations, a Grammy Award and a staggering 12 Grammy nominations.
Diane and I had been speaking for a week or two prior to the call taking place; more specifically the topic of conversation adjusted itself to the ballad of which Diane had written and recorded with Gaga in the same studio for The Hunting Ground documentary: Till It Happens To You. Upon our chats about the song and its message that can be received/interpreted by anyone, Diane asked me this question: “would you like to hear it?” Within a heartbeat I said: “yes, please!”. And so that’s how I’m able to write about what I heard.
I’m not going to lie and say I was cool about what was about to happen, I was excited beyond belief; especially since the fact that all I had heard to that point was the leaked low quality song without its first verse. After a few moments of Diane setting up the track for me to listen to, she hit play; silence had fallen upon both ends awaiting the first bar of the song. The first couple of seconds are what can only be described as a beautiful orchestral ensemble. Then Gaga’s elegant and vulnerable voice appeared flowing effortlessly through my ears quoting “you tell me it gets better, it gets better…” with such depth and meaning. The piano chords and violins compliment Gaga’s tender vocals (which show such incredible progression as a result of her jazz training recently, I’m sure) and the composition of instrumentation is beautiful and suits that song perfectly.
The song then progresses from vulnerability into the strong powerhouse vocals during the chorus as Gaga begins the slow build up with “till It happens to you, you won’t know how it feels” with the song coming to a slow and steady quiet, the sound slows and faints; out of nowhere the orchestral production storms right to the very forefront of your ears as Gaga’s voice re-ignites the passion and the glory.
For me the best part of the song was towards the end in the form of a 3 voice key change from Gaga; another anthemic build up occurs as Gaga’s voice soars into the three key change ripping through the grand sound singing “how it fee-eee-eeels” to the top of her range. But it’s when Gaga starts repeating “happens to you, happens to you, happens you” that you can feel the energy and the adrenaline through your body. Then the song comes to its final slow down where Gaga eloquently mutters “till it happens to you, you won’t know how it feels”.
After the song hit its last bar and faded, I had to wipe away a tiny tear, because it’s true this song is an absolute tear jerker, especially for those who have been through some troublesome times in their lives. It does have a specific message about rape but those words ‘till it happens to you’ can apply themselves to so much more.
As for hearing the song, Diane has informed me that the song is being re-mixed and then it should be released, who knows; all I can say is it’s absolutely beautiful, it’s sheer excellence, amazingly written by Diane and brilliant arrangement/execution by the Lady herself.
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