Have you ever heard a song that simply made you, for reasons perhaps difficult to put a finger on, want to drop what you were doing and go out and buy an English cell phone? Was that song "Tears Are in Your Eyes"? If so, then perhaps you create advertising for the Orange company (I think that's their name), or perhaps you--and others like you--are why we were asked towards the end of 2001 to license our song for use in a commercial.
We declined, offering instead to write some music specifically for the ad. Across the Atlantic, our offer was declined, and we were asked to reconsider. Reconsider we did. Although Lost in Translation was but a gleam in its creator's eye at the time, we were already familiar with American actors appearing in foreign commercials that they would never do were the ad to be broadcast in the U.S. Devil's advocate: Let's say we decided to license "Tears Are in Your Eyes" -- it's not like we'd be watching Fox's Laugh Out Loud Sunday programming and encounter it. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Well, kind of. We made a counter-offer. How about if we remix the song, removing Georgia's lead vocal, replacing it with something that would, hopefully, make it into a new piece of music, but one that would still scream "Don't you think it's time you bought an Orange -- if it was Orange -- cell phone." Our plan sparked some interest, but no commitment. We were given a little bit of money and asked to do it on spec, immediately. It was the day before Thanksgiving. We said: Why not.
We went to Shelter Island, where a few years later we would return to mix Summer Sun. The engineer did what we in the trade refer to as a recall mix on "Tears Are in Your Eyes," that is he imitated the original mix, utilizing notes taken at the time (and his ears, since we were in a different studio on a different board with different outboard gear). We muted Georgia's vocal, and replaced it with a bunch of other singing tracks which you'll have no trouble recognizing. We also added a bit of percussion which is a tad more subtle. We like it. The company rejected it. We were not crushed.
Postscript: In April of 2002, we were in London to perform The Sounds of Science. We hung around for a few days afterwards, during which time we went to the movies to see 24 Hour Party People starring the great Steve Coogan. Imagine our surprise when the pre-film entertainment included an Orange -- if it was Orange -- cell phone commercial, the campaign for which they wanted "Tears Are in Your Eyes." The soundtrack was recognizably based on our song, given that we knew they had asked for it in the first place.
Now that I think of it, in Lost in Translation, Bill Murray's character keeps seeing his own advertisements too.
Photo by David Doernberg, Scott Zwiezen, and Damon Chessé