Charlie Puth talks writing 'See You Again' for Paul Walker's goodbye
Charlie Puth had only lived in Los Angeles for two days when he co-wrote “See You Again,” the hit song chosen to play over Paul Walker’s final scene in Furious 7.
After word got out that the movie was looking for a song for Walker’s final scene, Puth figured he’d give it a shot, never expecting to be chosen from what he estimated were hundreds of submissions. Walking into the studio to see DJ Frank E for the first time—a meeting his publisher set up—Puth didn’t know what to expect.
“We were just getting to know each other and he had these chords up. I was like, ‘What if we just played this on the piano?’ And they were the chords to ‘See You Again,'” Puth said.
Sitting down to play, Puth said that the words “it’s a long day” just came out of his mouth. He instantly liked the feel and quickly made his way into the vocal booth. “And I just blurted out ‘when I see you again,'” he said. “Then [Frank E and I] had this weird moment. We just looked at each other like we had known each other for years.”
Ten minutes later, the two of them had written the chorus and sent it off to their publishing company—followed by everyone at Atlantic records, and finally by the Fast and Furious people.
Not only did the movie pick the song, but it also added Wiz Khalifa to the mix—something Puth said he’d wanted, but hadn’t told anyone. To make things even better, Puth was asked to sing on the track. “I came out to LA to be a songwriter and not an artist, and I’m so excited because I always secretly wanted to be an artist,” Puth said. “I came in to Atlantic to write this song for someone else to sing, and the best day of my life—other than seeing it in a movie—was when they told me that I was going to be singing the chorus.”
Puth thinks they chose his voice because he wrote the song for a friend of his, so he brings a more genuine feel to its words. “I was thinking of my friend who had passed away in a very similar way [to Paul Walker]. But it worked so well with everything going on with Paul,” he said. “I’m really honored that the Furious franchise thought that I captured it the best. I think I broke down and cried when they told me, because I was going to honor my friend, I was going to honor Paul, and anyone who’s ever lost anybody.”
Once it all came together, Puth said the film “put [the song] right to the scene and it just worked,” despite the fact that he had no idea how the movie would end when he wrote “See You Again.” With no notes from the movie studio, and Khalifa on the road—and therefore writing and recording his part separately—there were a lot of reasons why “See You Again” should’nt have worked. But it does—and what Puth likes most about the song is that it “doesn’t make you feel like you’ve left a funeral. It’s very uplifting and motivating. Paul’s legacy is always going to live on,” he added.
Now Puth not only has a new best friend in Frank E, but has also launched a career as both a singer and a songwriter. And it all started with a 10-minute writing session.
“All I did was just write a song,” Puth said. “God was watching down on me and Frank E that day, and I think Paul too.”