“Simple Song #3” is a paradox. On the one hand, the song itself is anything but simple. It conveys depth, melody, and emotional structure that is complex, rich, and impossibly intricate, while at the same time relying on a few key phrases and relatively simplistic musical arrangement. However, the actual creation of “Simple Song #3” was relatively true to its title: Simple. How was it made simple? By employing a tool that you use every single day, but never thought to incorporate with your song writing.
“Simple Song #3” has taken not only the music industry, but the film industry, by storm. Appearing as the final song and the musical climax for the movie “Youth” starring Michael Caine, Jane Fonda, and Harvey Keitel, “Simple Song #3” has been nominated for a Golden Globe in 2016. It is the type of honor that most songwriters dream of, and none of it would have been possible for songwriter and contemporary composer David Lang without the aid of Google.
Lang himself had limited experience in the film industry, and had minimal experience writing music specifically for film. When faced with the daunting task of creating the climactic final song in the film, the song that Caine’s character is supposed to present for Prince Philip’s birthday, Lang was faced with the challenge of tapping into raw emotion that would not only play out on film, but over the amplifier. He knew he needed real, honest, and raw human emotion. So, Lang went to his search engine and typed, “when you whisper my name I…”.
The results ranged from the pornographic to the profound, and at the end of the day, Lang was able to unearth the things that real people say to the people they love, and thus was able to unearth a world of sentiment and true human emotion that was hidden within the depths of cyberspace.
To further embrace this new age of song writing, Lang not only drew inspiration through Google Auto-Complete, but also worked almost entirely digitally with director Paolo Sorrentino. With very limited physical interactions, the mixing, the demos, the entire production of this Golden Globe nominated song happened nearly entirely online. While one might argue that without the face-to-face would rob the song of some of its power and development, director Sorrentino would disagree. The demos being sent electronically to him from Lang were powerful enough to make him cry, with Lang joking that he only knew the song was finished when Sorrentino “finally cried a lot”.
“Simple Song #3”, born from the collected thoughts and emotions of the world as told by Google, and developed entirely online between two artists with thousands of miles between them. Yes, songwriters, sometimes it really can be that simple to create a Golden Globe nominated song.