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May 11, 2007

The Love Song Writer Who Has Never Loved

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Later, Warren leads me past a bookcase featuring All About Me and Angry Little Girls to a green room filled with plush couches. She's one of those ageless California women, somewhere between 34 and 58 (she's 50), with dewy skin, big eyes, and a youthful figure. She picks at the hand-painted tiger on her shoe and considers the central irony of her career.

"I mean, I've never been in love," Warren says. "I know, it's weird." Especially because, how many of her songs are about love? "Approximately 99.999 percent," she says.

Sure, Warren has had relationships, including a seven-year shack-up with a record-industry guy. "But it wasn't really being in love. It was just, like, comfortable. And on occasion it wasn't even that comfortable," she says. "But I love my friends, I love my animals. I have a good imagination. I've always been like this. I didn't even sleep with a guy until I was 24. To be honest, I've only been with three men. I've been so focused on my music." Whoa, the woman who wrote "How Do I Live," a song that makes singles feel like lepers, is a workaholic loner?

"Maybe my songs are my partner. How 'bout that? Yeah, the biggest relationship I have is with my songs."
Accordingly, she's in therapy. "My shrink once said to me, 'You're 39 and your best friend's a parrot, and you don't need therapy?' She gets on me about balance."

On a typical day at the Realsongs offices, A-list producers drop by to shop for songs that flatter vocal range and persona. Here lies Warren's secret: Her hits provide any megavoice with a vulnerable identity. Producer Randy Jackson, of American Idol fame, stops in one day and sums her up this way: "This woman is the heart and soul of the industry. Most artists are lost. They have to come to Diane to figure out who they are."

"Then they don't listen," Warren shoots back. "Cher hated 'If I Could Turn Back Time.' I had to beg her, literally, on my knees, just to try it. Happens all the time."


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