Charlie Puth writes touching tribute to Paul Walker

New Jersey-born composer Charlie Puth has been through a headspinning two months. He had the hit “Marvin Gaye” with Meghan Trainor and sat next to Robert De Niro at the Golden Globes, where “See You Again,” his collaboration with Wiz Khalifa from the “Furious 7” film soundtrack, was nominated. At the Grammys, where the tribute to late actor Paul Walker was nominated for three trophies, 24-year-old hobnobbed with one of his vocal heroes, Sam Smith. And after years of simply posting his songs on YouTube, he finally released his debut album, “Nine Track Mind” this year.


Did you write “See You Again” as an assignment for the film?

Yes, I wrote it as an assignment. They told me to try writing for “The Fast and the Furious” series, and I said I would do my best. And as I wrote it, I just heard Wiz Khalifa singing on it. That’s how it happened.

How do you pen a closing-credits cut that summarizes not only the loss of Walker’s character, but the loss of the man himself?

My goal was to make it as universal as possible. And I didn’t know Paul Walker, so that was one challenge. So I had to put myself in Vin Diesel’s shoes. And the moment I asked myself, “What would Vin Diesel’s last words be to Paul Walker?” that sentence just came out of my mouth: “I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.” And I immediately thought of my friend who had passed away, and the situations were so similar. My friend’s father actually came to the Grammys with me.

Like “My Heart Will Go On” from “Titanic,” you’ve created a piece of music that will forever be linked to “Furious 7”’s final heartbreaking scene. That’s no easy feat.

Well, you know that phrase people say, “I feel like I’ve heard this song before”? That’s because something in the lyrics is embedded into our language. How many times have you said, “I’ll see you again”? Or “I’ll tell you all about it really soon?” And when you put a catchy melody to it, people have either heard a variation on the melody before, or they know the lyric because they say it.

You attended Berklee on a full scholarship. Did you hate it or love it?

I was never 100 percent into the academia; 50 percent of the time, I’d be doing my own thing, trying to produce music and taking trips to New York City to pitch records. I learned more from the Internet than I ever did at Berklee, especially about how to network and how to perform in front of people.


IF YOU GO
Charlie Puth

Where: Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. March 3
Tickets: $20 to $25 (sold out)
Contact: (415) 673-5716, www.axs.com

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