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'Grace' notes for her lyrics

Carole Bayer Sager's sudden invitation from Clint Eastwood to help him with a song leads to a shared nomination.

December 14, 2007|Geoff Boucher | Times Staff Writer

Clint Eastwood is a man of action, and not just on the screen. That was clear to songwriter Carole Bayer Sager when she picked up the phone a few months ago and Eastwood was on the line, calling from his car. After some chitchat, he explained that he was scoring a new independent film, "Grace Is Gone," and wanted to know if Sager would consider collaborating on a song.

"He said he wanted to come by and play it for me and I said yes, of course, I would be honored," Sager said. "I thought he meant he would come by some time that week, but he was at my house in 10 minutes."

That whirlwind kept spinning -- Sager wrote lyrics and while she was making a list of potential singers she found out that Eastwood had already picked jazz-inflected British singer Jamie Cullum to cut the record. Eastwood had also decided that the first take was just fine. "I think Jamie wanted to try a few more times, but, well, Clint's process is very much about the moment."

The result was a Golden Globe nomination Thursday for "Grace Is Gone" for song of the year, the 10th time Sager's name has been called out in that category. She's won twice, most memorably as part of the team that penned "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" from "Arthur" (1981), which also won an Oscar. It's Eastwood's second appearance in a Golden Globes music category (his score for 2004's "Million Dollar Baby" was nominated). He has won three in the director category and has been given two honorary Globes.

Also nominated: Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam for "Guaranteed" from "Into the Wild"; Alan Menken and his "Enchanted" return to fairy tales with "That's How You Know"; Colombian pop star Shakira and Brazilian composer Antonio Pinto for the forlorn "Despedida" from "Love in the Time of Cholera"; and retro songwriter Marshall Crenshaw, actor John C. Reilly and filmmakers Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan for "Walk Hard," the title track of the spoof film.

Win or lose, Sager will look back on her collaboration as a special -- if fleeting -- moment. "I'm used to working with people who do just the opposite. They'll record something 41 times, piece it together . . . but Clint does it his way, and that's one reason why he's one of the greats of our time."



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