Paul Thomas Anderson has directed six music videos for the Haim sisters, whose 2020 rock album “Women in Music Pt. III” is nominated at the Grammys for Album of the Year later this year. But it turns out the “Phantom Thread” and “Boogie Nights” director has impacted Haim’s music far more than just from behind the camera. On this week’s episode of the “Song Exploder” podcast, the band and their collaborators revealed that Anderson played a key role in writing the bridge of the song “Summer Girl” after he sent over unused movie dialogue for the Haim members to use however they wanted.
The story begins when Anderson told the band they should all get together and film a music video for “Summer Girl,” but the problem was the song was not finished yet. As band member Este Haim said, “We were like to Paul, ‘Wait, pump the breaks. We haven’t even finished the song.’ But he was like, ‘Who gives a shit. Let’s do a video for it.’ When Paul Thomas Anderson says, ‘Jump,’ you say, ‘How high?'”
“We are such big fans of him and to collaborate with someone like that is unbelievable,” Danielle Haim said. “It’s very strange to even talk about it. Paul was saying there should be a part in the video where she’s just looking in the camera and speaking.”
To help the band finish the song, and hearing that Danielle Haim wanted the “Summer Girl” bridge to include spoken dialogue, Anderson decided to send over pages of unused movie dialogue to the band to help get the song finished so that they could all shoot the music video.
“I told him we were thinking of adding this bridge where Danielle is talking to me and he sent unused dialogue from some stuff he had written in the past and he said, ‘See if any of this inspires you,'” Haim producer Ariel Rechtshaid said.
Danielle Haim added, “We had these pages of [Paul Thomas Anderson’s] dialogue and we kind of just picked out certain words. It’s weird how the words on the page fit the song.”
One part of Anderson’s unused movie dialogue involved an earthquake drill, which inspired the part of “Summer Girl” where Danielle Haim says, “I need you to understand these are the earthquake drills we ran.” Rechtshaid was also trying to find words to describe how Danielle Haim, who is also his girlfriend, stood by him and uplifted him after he was diagnosed with cancer the year prior. That’s when Rechtshaid stumbled on a piece of Anderson’s unused dialogue that read “walk beside me,” which also found its way into the song.
“I sent [the song] to Paul and he was like, ‘That’s great!'” Rechtshaid said. “I asked if he wanted writing credit and he was like, ‘No, I didn’t write that. You completely recontextualized it.”
The ongoing collaboration between Haim and Anderson is set to continue with the director’s next movie, which was shot in late summer and fall 2020 under the working title “Soggy Bottom.” The youngest Haim member, Alana Haim, has a starring role in the movie opposite Bradley Cooper and Cooper Hoffman, son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Haim will also stay busy in the movie world by writing the original music to the upcoming Netflix animated musical “The Witch Boy.”