While the whole TATB3 soundtrack will set your heart aflutter, there is one song that is THE song – LJ & Peter’s song. And it was critical that music supervisors Lindsay Wolfington and Laura Webb find the perfect song to fill such a pivotal role for To All The Boys: Always And Forever, Lara Jean.
Not only is the song a key plot point in the film – as Lara Jean and Peter realize they need to find “their song” and begin the listening hunt – but the script also called for a band performance and big, romantic scene. So basically a music supervisor’s dream scenario. But also high pressure. Especially given a quick timeline.
Lindsay and Laura tapped singer-songwriter Leah Nobel and producer Quinn Redmond for this critical project. Born and raised in Nashville, Quinn Redmond is a 28 year old songwriter, producer, engineer, and instrumentalist. Songwriter Leah Nobel blends her folk, pop, and alternative style with an emphasis on lyrics. Nobel has had sync placements on shows like Station 19, while songs under her alt pop moniker, Hael, have also been featured in ad campaigns and television shows.
We talk with Laura, Lindsay, Leah, and Quinn about how they worked together to make a little rom-com movie magic possible with three different versions of the perfect song.
WARNING: TONS OF SPOILERS AHEAD!
Tell us why this was such a pivotal song for the film?
Lindsay: As Lara Jean and Peter discuss classic rom-com movies, they realize they don’t have a meet-cute and they don’t have “their song” picked out. They spend a good part of the film listening and discussing trying to find that perfect song.
Ultimately, Lara Jean hears the song performed by The Greeting Committee at an NYU party, but it takes most of the film for Peter to come around to it, and when he does they have a sweet slow dance to it. For the slow dance, a version of the song for this type of moment didn’t exist, so we had to create it. We wanted it to be super lush and romantic!
Laura: Lindsay and I live for these kind of special moments. We knew we needed to find an extra special song since this is the final movie and we’ve all grown to care for this couple. We wanted to create an iconic music moment.
Leah, we understand this was an unfinished demo when Laura and Lindsay first heard it. Can you share a bit about the backstory of the song?
Leah: The day that Quinn and I got together to write, I was hoping we’d write an optimistic love song. Most of the love songs that I write tend to lean a little melancholy (or a lotta melancholy), so I liked the idea of writing something more joyful. Maybe something you would want to play at your wedding.
The idea was partially inspired by a brief that I had received from my publisher that Laura and Lindsay had sent out in search of music for their new romantic comedy. I remember it contained a few vague plot themes and maybe some key words, but there wasn’t much there other than a nugget of inspiration. The brief didn’t reveal the name of the film, but it provided a nice starting point for Quinn and me.
I had the title ‘Beginning Middle End’ in a list of titles and themes that I keep in my ‘Notes’ App on my phone. I think I pitched a few titles to Quinn, but that one resonated the most. We both felt it was the perfect backdrop for a story. With the brief and title as our guidepost, we filled out the rest of the song with lyrics inspired by some anecdotes from my personal life, and some musings from Quinn.
It’s true that so many love songs focus on the sad stories. How challenging was it to find happy love songs that would work for this project?
Laura: We often call ourselves the “sad song queens” but finding hopeful ones proves to be more challenging! When we saw the song title that initially piqued our interest and then we listened to the stunning lyrics that Leah and Quinn wrote, it became clear this should be “their” song!
Lindsay: It’s no wonder most people dance to the same 10 songs at weddings! There are only so many songs that say just the right, hopeful and positive thing about a relationship. But we have a folder full of them for the next project where this search comes up!
Quinn and Leah, can you describe your process working together?
Quinn: For me, working with Leah was a dream. She’s a great example of an artist who has good taste and guidance but is also open to ideas and willing to try new things. Writing ‘Beginning Middle End’ on the first day that we met highlights how comfortable we felt creating together, which doesn’t happen every day.
Leah is also very quick at getting to the relatable heart of an idea. I remember once she suggested the title, I started building a track that could fit that concept. About 15 minutes later I had the beginnings of a song and she had already written most of the first verse. From there we would help each other refine the words, music, and melody until we were both happy. When we left that day, we just thought we had written something we both enjoyed, but didn’t think much about it becoming what it is today. I think that’s a good sign for a song.
Leah: Aw, that’s nice. Thanks Quinn! I agree, I think we got really lucky that we clicked as friends and creatives. Quinn impressively writes, produces, mixes, and plays a bunch of instruments so we had every tool in our belt to create something special. We were able to simultaneously give each other space to focus on our individual strengths while still having a fluid collaboration.
I often disappear into my own little world and resurface with a bunch of ideas, and Quinn was not only game for them but had a bunch of his own creative ideas to add. It was an easy day, and I often find the best songs come from that type of atmosphere. As the song progressed over time, we were always checking in with each other to make sure we were on the same page. It felt like a kind and communicative collaboration.
As an unfinished demo, how much vision did you need to have to imagine the final version, Lindsay and Laura? Describe the tweaks to have it be relevant to TATB and work in these moments.
Laura: Leah and Quinn really had the bones of the song in a pretty awesome format, which is why this one stood out from the many other songs we received as submissions. The lyrics floored all of us and being that this film has a beginning, middle and end felt like a lovely meta tie in. Getting the song tailored to what we needed for the film was more what we needed their help on.
Lindsay: The initial version we heard was closest to the version we play in the end credits. It was fun and positive and happy, but not really a slow dance song, which we knew we needed for when Peter came around to it near the end of the film.
How did the specific scene in To All The Boys: Always and Forever influence the evolution of the song?
Leah: When Laura and Lindsay gave us a peek at the scene that featured our song, it was pretty serendipitous to see how well the lyrics fit in that moment. The brief did a great job at offering us enough clues about what the song needed to say, and the emotion that needed to be felt, that there wasn’t much editing to do in the lyric department after the fact. In contrast, the specific use did heavily dictate the sonic changes we made. Quinn can elaborate.
Beginning Middle End (Always and Forever Mix) [From The Netflix Film "To All The Boys: Always and Forever"]
by Leah Nobel
Peter plays this song for Lara Jean and says it…
Quinn: From a production standpoint, getting the song to really fill the moment was important to us. A song naturally has a sense of personality, but the right production can communicate many additional layers of that personality. Lindsay and Laura have chosen so many great songs for these films, and have intentionally used the personalities of those songs to tell its own story of growth and maturity. They really wanted the version used in this major scene to have a maturity to its sound while also keeping its modern pop roots. That led us to using a blend of organic intimate sounds as well as lush synthetic sounds. Then we topped it all off with soaring strings (played by Avery Bright). Hopefully it leaves the viewer ready to send Lara Jean and Peter off to college and the rest of their lives.
This was taking place pre-covid, so you all had the chance to actually get together in person in Nashville to collaborate. Can you share more about that process?
Laura: It was hugely helpful! Leah and Quinn were so welcoming and willing to work with us and all our neuroses. We knew this moment in the film – when Peter and Lara Jean get back together and make a new contract and sneak upstairs – had to be perfect. We wanted the heart strings, the doves flying, the fireworks erupting emotions to go off. We needed ALL the goosebumps so they stuck with us as we tried to explain what we needed the scene to do. We showed them the scene and explained more of the context.
Quinn: Lindsay and Laura were so fun to work with. They joined Leah and me at my studio in Nashville and together we were able to talk through some arrangement changes, zero in on which vibe we were trying to chase, and replace the chord that Lindsay didn’t like in the bridge (she was right). The first look at our scene allowed us to really get inside the moment we were creating. There was still a bit of work to do after they left but it was much easier moving forward after having some time to try some ideas together and get a better sense of what the film would need.
Leah: I feel like establishing a personal relationship with Laura and Lindsay was crucial in us getting the song to a place where all parties were happy. It’s so nice to put a face to a name and communicate in person instead of email- everything became more clear for us after our meeting. I think that communication combined with the peek of the scene turned a light bulb on for both Quinn and me. It was powerful to see a visual alongside our song and made a lot of things click for us.
Lindsay: Quinn especially was patient with our notes on the instrumentation of the song as we worked on making the song go from simple slow dance into a lush dreamy montage song. Quinn had lots of good ideas, and Leah jumped in and added gorgeous background vocals, as we pushed for the track to really soar. We had a few different mixes of the song over the course of a year, and ultimately, the track was a combination of 2 or 3 of these versions, which felt just right.
Lindsay and Laura, how did you find The Greeting Committee for the rooftop party band, and cover version of the song?
Laura: This moment was one of the first things we had to accomplish when we dove into the third film, so we had about 1 week and a half to get it all done.
Lindsay: As we were on the hunt for the perfect Lara Jean/Peter song we also had to find a band to cover the song. One who would either be based in New York or who was willing to come to New York to film with about a week’s notice (mind you, this was the summer of 2019, pre-COVID, so not as challenging as now).
The Greeting Committee checked so many boxes: they had great songs of their own for the rooftop party; they had an awesome female singer (Addie Sartino) who would be a good match to cover ‘Beginning Middle End;’ and they fit the look and sound of a band playing a college party in New York. And they were enthusiastic to jump in, record a cover and get on a plane to NYC!
The Greeting Committee performs at a college ro…
Laura: Their songs are so fun. I get a smile on my face every time I see the girls carrying the pink couch and hear ‘Run For Your Money.’
So we’ve got the cover by The Greeting Committee, the Always and Forever Mix for the big, emotional scene as Lara Jean and Peter get back together. Plus a third, more pop version over the end credits that caps the entire story. Tell us about this final version.
Quinn: This version actually contains more of the original spark of how the song came to be.
Leah: It’s that original spark dialed up a few dynamic notches.
Quinn: It highlights the lighter side of the lyrical content, while the ‘Always and Forever’ version highlights the depth in the words. Love is both fun and deep, so I’m glad we have both of these to represent that.
We see how you’ve used ‘Beginning, Middle, End’ in (roughly) the corresponding spots in the movie. Was that end credit spot the plan from the start? Or inspiration from the song title?
Laura: It was always in the back of our head that it could be a fun idea to return to the original version at the end. I think we discussed the idea with [director] Michael Fimognari and when we saw our first cut of the film, it was in there and it felt so right.
Lindsay: It always made me feel so happy when it came on at the end of the film. It felt like the right way to end things and sounded like a classic end title song. After the end montage song by Black Match, which always made us cry, this felt like “yup, the films are over, and it was a really fun ride.”
Don’t miss Lindsay and Laura’s favorite music moments from Always and Forever, Lara Jean, and more fun To All The Boys… soundtrack content below.
〉To All The Boys…
〉Full list of songs featured in the To All the Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean soundtrack
〉Full list of songs featured in the To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You soundtrack
〉Full list of songs featured in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before… soundtrack
〉Interview with Lindsay Wolfington and Laura Webb about TATB2: P.S. You’ll Love the soundtrack of TATB 2
〉Interview with Lindsay Wolfington and Laura Webb about TATB: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’s Soundtrack Success Story