Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Behind The Music Of "Any Other Day"

"On a day like any other day -- a chill wind, the promise of Autumn… the sky was so blue you could almost taste it." — from the theatrical piece, "but the rain is full of ghosts," by Robert Lawson.

"In 2002, I wrote [those opening lines for a] theater piece in reaction to 9/11," says Robert Lawson. "So flash forward to Jonathan [Glatzer] and I. We had been talking about a credit sequence song, and the idea was to model it after the ‘Countdown’ song in the movie. I had this feeling that it shouldn’t be quite so peppy … after all, the Challenger explosion was pretty grim. But who wants grim music for the last taste of a movie like this?"

And so began the task of finding the right balance for "Any Other Day." The basic elements were written in the course of a single afternoon, with the hope it would be performed. Yet, like so many elements of so many movies, Lawson, a Renaissance veteran in arts and entertainment, had no expectations.

"My work has been done in scattered locations, mostly on the East Coast, periodically off B’way in New York, and one at the Kennedy Center," Lawson said. "A number of my scripts are published by Playscripts, Inc. and I also spend as much time as I can abroad. I teach regularly in and around Vienna (where my performance text Kuhfangfederblech premiered), tackling such esoteric topics as narrative strategies, framing and abstraction, and using digital media. As for songs, I’ve written well over a hundred, mostly for theater pieces you’ve never heard of, but I did receive a 'Meet the Composer Grant' for my efforts. "

"Any Other Day"
as originally written by Robert Lawson

On a day like any other day,
Sky so blue it could take your breath away.
And what could ever fall apart?
On a day like it is today --

Kind of day you could climb to the top of the world,
And see your life unfurl
Before your very eyes.
But when it falls apart, then you realize --

This is all a countdown,
To a higher place,
Countdown into some outer space.

Maybe it's a day when the angels will come to sing
Or maybe it's a day when the devil comes to bring a fate
You couldn't imagine in your wildest dreams.

To a higher place,
Countdown into some outer space.

Never mind the smoke and mirrors left behind you.
Don't you go - there's nothing there to really bind you.
Just let go and know your destiny will find you,
Wherever you are...

wherever you are... wherever you are...

To a higher place,
Countdown into some outer space.

On a day like any other day,
Sky so blue it could take your --
Take your breath away.

'Cause I remember where I was when I heard the news.
I remember where I was when I heard the news.
I remember where I was --

Sky so blue, like any other day.

We decided to share the original after Lawson noticed a fan discussion after the song. Specifically, "Jayrock" gave his take on the song. He was so clear in his definition that Lawson offered an extended explanation, saying that "I've always been fascinated by the chance occurrences in life, how we try to control our lives, plan things down to the smallest detail. The only catch is that we only control our tiny corner of the universe, and barely that."

"The day the Challenger launched was a lot like September 11 -- a gorgeous, clear, cold day," says Lawson. "Who would have guessed what would happen that day?"

And that is also where Jayrock got it right, says Lawson, when he wrote ... "Also out of context to the movie you can take the song to a more personal level for yourself."

"There's a kind of Zen in the song - you go along, you do what you need to do, care about doing ... just don't get caught up trying to control it all. You don't. But that's okay ... Whatever your destiny is, don't worry, it'll find you," Lawson wrote in reply. Later, he added for the Insider team: "Articulating things like this tend to come out goofy, even though you might actually believe in them."

There seems to have been a kind of Zen in the making of the song too. According to Lawson, the original rough is very metered and insistent. The early draft also had several transformations that included a loose jazz version, reggae version, a cappella version, and even a version with bagpipes and harmonium before settling down into what it is now with Duff. And then add in how many people touched the song along the way.

It was written by Lawson with Glatzer and Duff. It was produced by Richard Vission and Chico Bennett. It was mixed by Dave Aude. It was placed on a soundtrack produced by David Parker and Anthony Miranda. And there are many more involved. The list goes on and on. Much like the song suggests, we never really know what might happen next.

The same can be said for Lawson. Right now, he and Glatzer are already busy working on a new film project that they hope to shoot in 2010, called Emmett Bull’s Peerless Arcadium, which is set in the 1930s. He also has a number of theater projects on the horizon and is considering an opportunity to direct Richard Wagner's opera "Fliegender Holländer" next spring as well.

But of it all, he says, time will tell. Considering What Goes Up originally began as a play co-written by Lawson and Glatzer in 1996, he seems to be exactly right.


  1. Hi! I'm Florencia, from Argentina. I want to said how much i need to see the film. The song is awesome, like Hilary. She is my idol and she is everything for me. xoxo.

  2. Thanks so much Florencia,

    We think everyone involved really came together on this one. Hilary Duff has an easy hit with this one, thanks to fans like you.

    All our best,
    The Insider Team

  3. Love the meaning behind the song -, it is good. The song is well written and well sung.

    Btw is there any news with regards to the theaters the movie will be opening in on from may 28

  4. This is so weird, the first time I read the lyrics and listened to the song I immediatly connected it to 9/11. For one I wrote lyrics only slightly simular to this a year ago. So crazy.

  5. @Naja,

    Thanks so much. We just published the theater listings for four of the cities, starting May 29.


    We think what makes the song so powerful is because it captures of the spirit of many days.

    All our best,
    The Insider Team

  6. There's some internet peeps out there saying Hilary's voice was dubbed and mixed with someone else's, particularly when she sings, "to a higher place"...is this true?

    I also thought of September 11 when I heard this! It's crazy.

  7. Jonathan,

    Far be it from us to dispel a rumor. We do think the mix creates that impression, but that could just be the mix. :)

    On the Hilaryfan.com, Lawson also referenced Kennedy assassination, which is another one of those moments when everything seems to come to a stand still.

    All the best,
    The Insider Team

  8. I think this song is amazing, as is the film, I do wonder, however, whether Hilary can sing at all, as her voice seems to be auto-tuned a hell of a lot. The song is my favourtie of 2009 though, as is the film.