‘A Star Is Born’ Songwriter Remembers Doubting Bradley Cooper’s Music Skills

“A Star Is Born” won the Oscar for Best Original Song thanks to its breakout hit “Shallow,” but just as instrumental to the film’s success was the track “Maybe It’s Time,” performed several times in the movie by Bradley Cooper. The song is a staple for Cooper’s character, musician Jackson Maine, and was written by four-time Grammy winner and singer-songwriter Jason Isbell. In a new interview with GQ magazine, Isbell admits he had big reservations about writing a song for a major Hollywood movie and underestimated whether or not Cooper could deliver the vocals on the song.

Isbell was contacted to contribute a song to the film by his producer Dave Cobb, who was in touch with Cooper about the project. “I said, ‘No, Dave. I don’t have time for that shit,’” Isbell said. The musician’s wife said he’d be an idiot to pass up on a chance to work on a film starring Cooper and Lady Gaga, so Isbell begrudgingly put pen to paper and wrote “Maybe It’s Time.” As GQ reports, “Cooper called, said he loved it. Lady Gaga, the film’s other star, called, said she loved it. But Isbell, even then, had some doubt — what if Cooper butchered his song?”

“What happened was, he sent me a voice memo, like a demo,” Isbell said. “And I was getting on a plane. And I was like, ‘Man, I’ll listen to this when I get off the plane.’ But then I was thinking this might be bad, and if this is bad, I don’t know if I want to tell Bradley Cooper, ‘You can’t sing my song. You suck.’ First of all, I don’t think he gives a shit what I think about it. But I was wrong.”

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Isbell listened to Cooper’s “Maybe It’s Time” demo when his plane landed and he was quite impressed with the actor’s musical chops. “I texted him back,” the singer said. “I was like: ‘This is good, Bradley. Thank you for sending that. I think it’s great.’ I didn’t know this, but he had been waiting on that response to go forward. I didn’t know he was sweating it out. But he gave a shit. He really cared about it. So that was more than I expected out of Hollywood, you know? Way more.”

Looking back, Isbell said he’s glad he wrote a song for the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack “because they sold way more copies of it than I would have.” As the musician explained, “That was my last chance to get a platinum plaque, and I got one.” Head over to GQ’s website to read Isbell’s full interview.

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