“I don’t take ownership in something that beautiful, because it comes from somewhere else,” she says. The seeds of the soaring anthem came to Perry immediately after a screening of the indie film, now in theaters, about a cancer-stricken female detective (Julianne Moore) who fights five Freehold, N.J., councilmen to have her domestic partner (Ellen Page) receive her pension benefits.
Moved by the performances and Hans Zimmer and Johnny Marr’s score, Perry grabbed her phone and began singing into it. “All of a sudden, I hear lyrics, melody, the chords — it’s just all kind of coming,” she says. By the time she played it on piano for the movie’s producers less than an hour later, the song was nearly completed. “I think they thought I was on drugs or something. They were like, ‘There’s no way you’re going to tell us you wrote a song in 45 minutes on the way from the movie to here,” she says.
Producer/musician Kerry Brown, with whom Perry worked on Hole’s 2010 album, Nobody’s Daughter (“We met through the chaos of Courtney [Love],” Perry says) is married to Stacey Sher, one of the movie’s producers. He thought Perry would be perfect to write the theme even though she’s previously walked away from movie work because filmmakers “want the temp song. It hurts by feelings. I get too sensitive and emotional about it,” she says. “This was completely the opposite.”
Page asked Cyrus to perform the theme. “She just came in so generous and classy. I was shocked,” Perry says. “She is my favorite person out there right now because she is doing it her way.” Cyrus ran through the song three times. Within two weeks of Perry seeing the film, the song was mixed and mastered. RCA digitally released the song last week.
With Oscar talk already surrounding the movie’s performances, Perry — who released a children’s album with wife Sara Gilbert three weeks ago — may also be in the running for best original song. “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we got a nomination for song too?” she says. “I’m not going to lie. That would be f—ing incredible.”