Lady Gaga may have understandably hogged the media's coverage of this year's Best Original Song category but she's not the only Grammy winning composer in the mix. Diane Warren (the main writer of "Til It Happens to You") and The Weeknd "Earned It" are also Grammy winners. So is David Lang, an eclectic composer best known for his classical work. He's nominated for "Simple Song No. 3" from Youth, the lynchpin song of the whole movie. Like Jane Fonda's movie star in the same film, his song is hyped consistently by the story and characters before we fatefully cross paths with it.
Lang hasn't worked in movies too often, though he did contribute to the incredibly memorable music in Requiem for a Dream (2000). After his elevating and Oscar nominated work on Youth, we're hoping he spends more time composing for our screens.
When David Lang sat down to talk to The Film Experience I warned him that I know next to nothing about music. The good humored composer joked, absurdly, that he barely knows anything either. Lang is one of very few Oscar nominees in the Academy's history to have won a Pulitzer Prize before their Oscar honors. (Here's our talk edited slightly for length and clarity.)
NATHANIEL: Famously you wrote "Simple Song No. 3" before Sorrentino's screenplay was complete. How quickly did you write it? Did Sorrentino ask for several iterations?
DAVID LANG: I work pretty fast. The way this worked was I made a version of the song and I would get a singer to sing it and send the demo to Paolo. I basically sent him three versions of the song. I probably spent much more time having these philosophical conversations with him and reading the script and having dark neurotic nightmares about it than actually doing the work!