Diane Warren, Belinda Carlisle reunite after decades apart
May 10, 2023, 8:59 AM
NEW YORK (AP) — Appropriate for an album called “Kismet,” the reunion of songwriter Diane Warren and singer Belinda Carlisle happened by chance.
Warren, who has penned global hits such as “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” for Aerosmith and “Un-Break My Heart” for Toni Braxton, was minding her own business in Los Angeles at a coffee shop when a stranger walked up to her.
He introduced himself as the son of Carlisle, lead singer of the Go-Go’s, the most successful all-female rock band of all time who later became a solo artist with hits like “Heaven Is a Place on Earth.”
For Warren, it was a bit of a shock. She didn’t know Carlisle had an adult son and the two women hadn’t been in touch for decades. But it was a fortuitous meeting, too. Warren had a great new song — “Big, Big Love” — that she’d just written and was looking for the perfect singer.
“Then when I ran into Belinda’s son, Duke, I was like, Oh, wow. ‘Big, Big Love’ – Belinda! Oh, my God. Get her on the phone right now,” Warren recalls.
The result of that chance meeting is “Kismet,” a five-track EP that includes “Big Big Love” and reunites Warren and Carlisle, who first worked together in 1987 for Carlisle’s second solo album, “Heaven on Earth.”
“There’s no like weirdness, no uncomfortable. It’s just very, very easy,” says Carlisle of working again with Warren. “It’s effortless. It’s kind of scary how effortless it is.”
Warren, who wrote “I Get Weak” back in the ’80s for Carlisle, agrees: “Belinda Carlisle is one of my favorite artists ever,” she says. “Belinda sounds better than she ever has.”
That’s not to mean there weren’t some nerves as the two artists reunited for a recording session that included “Big Big Love,” an anthem with slices of ’80s synth, a huge Warren hook and strong vocals from Carlisle.
“You never know about what you’re going to hear. So, of course, it’s always like, ‘What if I don’t like it? What if it’s not for me?’ But I went in there and I heard it for the first time, and I freaked out,” says Carlisle.
The two women then put together the EP with some songs Warren had in her trunk and some ones written specifically for Carlisle, like “If You Go.” The album title came easily: “The meaning is something that’s meant to be. So this was meant to be.”
Carlisle sprinkled a few of the songs into her setlist during a recent tour of the United Kingdom and felt a reaction to Warren’s upbeat, uplifting tunes.
“I could tell they’re hungry for this kind of music. They want to escape and they want to be uplifted. And I think the combination of Diane and myself certainly has the potential to do that.”
The singer will add them to her U.S. tour, which kicks off July 1 in Georgia and takes her to Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, Nevada and California.
“Kismet” may not be the end of the women’s collaboration. Over a Zoom call — interrupted at one point by Warren’s ringtone (a slice of “Big Big Love,” naturally) — they plotted a return to the studio.
“I had such a great time, and I was really bummed out when it was over,” says Carlisle. Responded Warren: “I’ve got some great songs kind of sitting on the side for you.”
They still marvel at the way their reunion came about and the heroic role Carlisle’s son played at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. “If he didn’t go up to Diane that day, this would never have happened,” says Carlisle.
“Isn’t it weird? Or, like, he came an hour later or didn’t go that day?” asks Warren. To which Carlisle adds even more mystery: “And he never goes to that coffee shop, either. He never goes there. So the whole thing is very strange.”
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits