When director Matthew Heineman asked Annie Lennox to contribute a song to his new film A Private War — about the award-winning, late conflict correspondent Marie Colvin — she was hesitant. “I didn’t really feel I could write anymore, and then suddenly I felt, ‘You know, I’d like to give it a try,'” she says.
The result is the exquisitely elegiac closing-credits song “Requiem for a Private War.”
The Eurythmics singer-songwriter had actually met Marie Colvin previously, at an event for Lennox’s women’s advocacy organization, The Circle. “I met her about a year before she died [covering the siege in Homs in Syria in 2012]…. I can’t say I was a friend, but the tragedy is if Marie hadn’t been killed, I definitely feel I would have seen much more of her.” Following her death, the reporter’s friends started The Marie Colvin Journalists’ Network under the auspices of The Circle.
Rosamund Pike as Marie Colvin in A Private War, in theaters today.
Lennox, who only saw the film after she wrote the song, was struck by an eerie coincidence. “One of the last things that Marie Colvin is saying [in the film] is ‘Why? Why?’ That’s actually the first word in the beginning of the song. It’s uncanny,” she says.
“Normally I’m really, really critical of my performances or my recordings,” adds Lennox. “I don’t want to be in any way sentimental about any of this, but if Marie were here, I feel that she would feel that this was worthy of her.”
Even though Lennox was pleased with “Requiem For A Private War,” she says it did not awaken a muse and that fans should not expect more music to materialize anytime soon.
“I haven’t made any plans to write any other songs,” she says. “It’s a strange one. I mean, I’ve had such a powerful and deep relationship with music and expression and seeing and writing lyrics and the whole artistry of channeling emotions for people to also receive or to enter themselves. It was such a huge profit for me for most of my life — in fact, all my life.”
Instead, Lennox will continue to advocate for what she calls “global feminism” through her work with The Circle. “I think there is such a need for people to understand the inclusiveness of that term, and the facts about girls and women [across the world]” living with few resources and rights.
The rights of girls and women have long been an area of interest for Lennox, who memorably duetted with the late Aretha Franklin on “Sisters Are Doin’ It For themselves” in 1985. She still sounds endearingly star struck when she recalls recording with one of her heroes. “When I thought about the opportunity that we had to record with Aretha, to spend a little time with her, and how unusual that was all to itself,” she muses. “How riveting it was…. How Aretha ad-libbed a line in the song when we were recording it, which was so sweet. She suddenly said, ‘Equal pay, hear what we say.’ Yeah. You get it! Equal pay,hear what we say.”