Mark Ronson, Diane Warren Break Down Their Favorite Oscar-Nominated Song Lyrics

6:30 AM 2/18/2019

by Tara Bitran

Songwriters from films such as 'A Star Is Born,' 'Mary Poppins Returns' and 'RBG' share the significance of what the lyrics mean to them.

Mark Ronson and Diane Warren
Mark Ronson and Diane Warren
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images; Michael Kovac/Getty Images

  • Mark Ronson

    "Shallow" ('A Star is Born')

    "Tell me something boy, aren't you tired trying to fill that void"

    "When she sang that line, from the combination of the tone of her voice, her delivery and the lyric itself, I really felt it. I was feeling pretty hollow at the time as I was going through a lot in my personal life as well, so it just hit me in the gut, super hard. The way she sings that verse still gets me even when I hear it now."

  • Diane Warren

    "I'll Fight" ('RBG')

    "I'll have your back when your back's to the wall."

    "That is really what the song is about: In those moments when you don't have the strength, that is when I will be there to be strong for you, to fight that fight for you. This is what RBG has done for us all for years."

  • Scott Wittman

    "The Place Where Lost Things Go" ('Mary Poppins Returns')

    "Nothing's gone forever, only out of place."

    "The lyric as sung and acted by the beautiful Emily Blunt suggests the probability of an eternal soul. Mary Poppins as written by P.L. Travers, who was a believer in Eastern spirituality, is a conduit for enlightenment."

  • David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

    "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings" ('The Ballad of Buster Scruggs')

    "When they wrap my body in the bindling sheet"

    "In the second verse about dying, we needed to be cowboyish without being cliche, so we made up the term 'bindling sheet' as Western slang for the undertaker's shroud. It made us think of Chuck Berry, one of our favorite songwriters, who made up beautiful words like 'motorvating.'"

    This story first appeared in the Feb. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.