How a whirlwind, last-minute scramble led to Coyote Ugly"s i can not forget finale — and also a cherished early-aughts anthem, two decades later.

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In 1997, Elizabeth Gilbert composed an article for GQ about bartending at a dive in brand-new York City’s east Village. In ~ Coyote Ugly Saloon, the sexy, female-fronted staff danced top top the bars, take it no shit, and also could shoot ‘em back better than the finest of them. Disney got the film civil liberties to the article and, ~ above Aug. 4, 2000, released an adaptation developed by Jerry Bruckheimer. Coyote Ugly follows Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo, in her breakout role), an aspiring songwriter with devastating stage fright, together she move from brand-new Jersey to new York to pursue her dreams while sustaining herself tending bar. Two decades later, the movie has end up being a cult classic and also a cherished favorite for those who came of period in the beforehand aughts — not just for its empowering storyline, but also for the great music that accompanied it.

Notably, who can forget “Can’t fight the Moonlight,” the film’s massive theme song that skyrocketed singer LeAnn Rimes, that was 17 at the moment and already a country music star, right into the popular music spotlight. Sonically lush, with loud guitars and also dramatic strings layered end a ballad-esque melody and also sing-along text vivid v imagery, “Can’t hit the Moonlight” is a excellent pop track by architecture — a timeless, hopeful, romantic anthem because that chasing your dreams. For 2 decades, it has been a lovely emblem that its era, a karaoke go-to, and also a signature because that Rimes.

But fighting the moonlight wasn’t easy. Produced by Trevor Horn, co-founder of brand-new wave tape The Buggles and also producer for artists favor Grace Jones and Pet Shop Boys, and also written by the prolific Diane Warren that at that point had penned access time for everyone from Céline Dion and also Cher come Aerosmith — “Can’t hit the Moonlight” virtually didn’t exist. Only after a whirlwind last-turn-of-production that consisted of replacing the film’s vault encore, shooting an entirely new ending, and also swapping out every one of Perabo’s to sing vocals for Rimes, mere weeks before Coyote Ugly was due in theaters, go the cherished anthem concerned life. For Coyote Ugly’s 20th anniversary, spoke v LeAnn Rimes, Piper Perabo, Diane Warren, and Trevor Horn for the story of what precisely went under behind the scenes.

THE an initial CUT

Horn had operated on music because that a pair of films, including Toys (the 1992 Robin Williams comedy), however he’d never ever crafted an entire score. Music super Kathy Nelson knew Coyote Ugly called for something extra special and that Horn would certainly be perfect for the job. Warren was i was delegated to write the songs. In ready for her role as Violet, Perabo take it dance and also singing lessons, and learned to play guitar. Perabo initially sang “But I perform Love You,” “Please Remember,” and also “The right Kind that Wrong,” and also recorded them at Horn’s home studio in California.

PIPER PERABO: We"d shoot every day and then I"d have actually lessons. The last thing in the day was to walk to the recording studio. Us would document really so late at night, which, in a way, was type of cool since it"s so quiet and dark, and the residence was in the Hollywood Hills, and also there was a an excellent view. Ns didn"t really understand what i was doing, but I had actually Diane and also Trevor to help me, therefore I might just concentration on that component of it. We videotaped the album while us were filming the movie.

TREVOR HORN: I had actually to spend quite a many time with Piper, recording the bits because that once she"s on the roof and also she"s simply singing. There was a lot of extended music compared to a regular film. I think in the long reduced of the film is a scene where she"s in the bathroom playing “But I do I Love You.” <Sings> "I don’t choose to,” and she"s sit on the floor in the bathroom. As soon as we taped that, it to be me sitting on the floor in the bathroom Piper…and playing to her. Those space the kind of memory I have actually whenever I view the film.

DIANE WARREN: I had a different song at the end, originally, in Coyote Ugly. I remember seeing and also thinking, “Ah, I"m not certain if that track works in ~ the end.” ns didn"t speak anything because I didn"t desire to knock my very own song out. Ns remember right before the movie was claimed to come the end — probably two months, not even that — and they were saying, “You know, the finish song doesn"t work, you should write an additional song.” i was like, “Oh, sh*t. They observed what i saw.” i don"t also remember the name of it.

HORN: Where “ struggle the Moonlight” was in the film, it was originally a different song and totally different finishing — a song dubbed “Fine Now.” the didn"t quite work for the Disney people. Although, I need to say that “ fight the Moonlight” was a way far better song than “Fine Now” in every way: melodically, rhythmically, harmonically. The was just a really great song.


Coyote Ugly had all however wrapped as soon as the crew sat under to screen a preview. Together it stood, the ending had Violet singing live in ~ a club and finally overcoming her phase fright. She was, together the initial song suggested, fine now. But it wasn’t fairly enough. Violet essential a stronger conclusion to she journey and also the best song to help illustrate it. The crew was also considering having someone else song over Perabo’s vocals, which castle would have LeAnn Rimes do once she came on board. V a looming meeting of 3 weeks to create a new song and reshoot the ending, everyone had actually to acquire to work-related — and fast.

HORN: ~ the preview, Diane came up through “ struggle the Moonlight” fairly quickly. And also then that was every hands to try and do the document as conveniently as i could… I had actually to perform a version of “ hit the Moonlight” because that the end scene, wherein sings at the club. The was nice last-minute stuff. I remained up every night doing the version.

WARREN: I had free rein through it. I composed the songs i think the would sing, you know what i mean? I simply started playing those chords and start singing the chorus. “Try come hide from my kiss,” and I was like, “Ah, that"s so simple, however I love it.” It"s really cool and also it"s yes, really evocative, due to the fact that the moon does kind of indicate romanticism, doesn"t it? The moon"s displayed up in a most my songs. I don"t really analysis it. I simply started to sing it and playing it and also it yes, really felt right. Simply playing all those chords and the change in keys. I was like, “That"s yes, really weird, yet I f*cking like that. It"s so weird — but does the work?” The crucial changes the points that don"t make sense in the song, however the melody ties it together, ns guess.

HORN: once I heard the demo, the an initial thing i did was speak to up Diane and say, “Diane, deserve to I have actually a multitrack for the demo? This is a really an excellent demo. I"ll pay her programmer since I might want to use few of it.” Diane was really good, due to the fact that sometimes human being can acquire cheap v you…And climate I had actually two or three really good musicians, and also we placed our heads with each other on it. Diane"s one of those songwriters, girlfriend know, periodically you don"t have to do the much, if you know what ns mean. In terms of arranging the song, the tune jumps about between two or three keys in really a clever way. I certainly wasn"t walking to adjust that due to the fact that I think that"s component of what make the tune really good.

WARREN: There’s a few in the verse and also in the chorus. If i was a super educated musician, i beg your pardon I"m not, I’d most likely be like, “You can"t execute that, friend can"t walk to the chord, that"s not musically correct.” but I don"t have those guardrails on me.

LEANN RIMES: I know that they were thinking around someone else to sing part. Ns think they to be going to leaving it that way until they had actually me involved. I remember Trevor having actually me play roughly with her voice in the studio, and also I"d clock the scene and also kind the see: “Can you make it no sound favor you? have the right to you play around and also do something different?” So, yeah, it just conveniently kind of came out. That was fun to pat around and also not need to sound precisely like myself. I don"t think till I gained onboard. I understand that they yes, really felt favor they had actually someone the they want to move that out with.



Rimes had collaborated through Warren prior to on her Grammy-nominated hit “How perform I Live.” Warren wrote that song, the design template for Bruckheimer’s 1997 thriller Con Air, with Rimes in mind, despite the film variation was at some point covered by Trisha Yearwood. Nevertheless, it commenced a working relationship in between Rimes and also Warren the would proceed for year to come, including on Coyote Ugly.

WARREN: She"s one of the most underrated singers in music. She"s an amazing, impressive vocalist. As soon as you deserve to work v someone on the level the talent, it"s like a screenwriter working v an exceptional actor, therefore you recognize they"re going to take what friend did and also bring that following level to wherein you didn"t even know it might go.

RIMES: i don"t remember specifically on <“Can’t fight the Moonlight”>, ns don’t understand if remained in the studio very much v me about that time, i think it was a the majority of me and also Trevor — who I loved working with, he"s together a type man. Ns remember I would go as much as his residence in the Hills, and I think it to be really simply the two of us and also I would sing in his little studio. That was an extremely intimate; the wasn"t a big production. I recognize he"d currently done all the tracks and also everything because of the film, and also so, as soon as I stepped in, many of that part was done. They simply needed the vocals.

HORN: sang three takes and also I placed a vocal together from it, ~ above “ struggle the Moonlight,” and she listened come it and said, “Ah, hm, I have the right to see what girlfriend mean. Just let me sing it again.” and she sang the again. It to be amazing. I said to her, “Where did you discover to song so well?” i mean, she wasn"t also that old, you know? She said, “Well, ns was fronting my very own band as soon as I to be 11.” She remembered whatever she"d excellent on the three takes and she observed the bits that i picked and she did the in the final take and also all the ingredient that ns couldn’t even have dreamed of. She"s yes, really good.

PERABO: the wasn"t until later on that Jerry and also David concerned me and also said, “We’re walking to have actually LeAnn dub and also do a final scene in the movie” — which, you know, you would certainly think that would be upsetting or disappointing, however what I want to be was an actor. Ns mean, what i still want to it is in is one actor. I didn"t have this dream of becoming a musician. Ns was play a songwriter; i wasn"t make the efforts to come to be a songwriter or musician. I wanted the movie to come out good and be a large hit, because that"d offer me more chances to act. So, everything would make that happen — if my track recording wasn"t good enough and also then the movie’s a flop? climate I"m screwed. If LeAnn records everything and that would certainly make the movie a huge fat hit, ns get much more chances come act. So, i was just happy that Jerry and David were trying to do this movie a large fat hit and also if that way LeAnn comes in and dubs my song, cool.

RIMES: I kind of kept very own voice in mind, "cause she has a really fragile singing voice. I simply kind that really wanted to store her very own style and also her voice in mind when I to be doing it, I just kind that amp it up a little bit. I"m watching the scenes and also having to vocally emote in the method that she is, to enhance what she"s doing. It was challenging, definitely, but it was a an obstacle that was really fun.

HORN: The night that I remained up law the scene, Jerry had dubbed me at around midnight: “I’ve heard wherein you"re increase to and also one much more gear change. It"s acquired to go ideal up.” i was thinking, “How the f*ck am i going to do this?” among the men from LeAnn"s entourage this amazing regime on a computer that was a little like a variation of . It to be the an initial time I"ve ever seen one. I said to him, “Wow. Might I offer you this track? I’ll provide you a mix that it and can you add sh*t on and give it ago to me?” and also he was like, “Yeah!” i was end the moon due to the fact that it resolved my problem for me. I ultimately got there at 9:30 in the morning and they were all there, Jerry and also everybody. And they put it on a big set of speaker on the set, and also it sound great!

At a certain point, i was talking to someone, i think ns was talking to Jerry, and also I had actually a pint of water in my hand and also I fell quick asleep stand up. I poured the water all down the front of me, and they obtained me right into a limo and sent me home. I"d forgotten I"d been up for, like, 36 hours. I deserve to tell you: ns don"t perform cocaine or anything like that. It was simply on coffee, you know? ns was exhausted. <Laughs.>

THAT critical SCENE

The club scene to be reshot through Perabo singing follow me to “Can’t hit the Moonlight” and an additional, last scene was added to encompass Rimes in the story — showing up as herself and also performing the monitor on the bar, noting Violet’s huge break into the music industry. The mix of the song and also the critical scene was pivotal in developing a triumphant stare arc the made the film feeling complete. It stood out together a celebratory moment for the cast and crew, too.

PERABO: It was so fun. The girls that worked at the bar — Tyra and Izabella and Bridget and also Maria — we had done all these number together and also now we gained to come back and do one much more with a superstar. By the time you gain to the finish of do Coyote Ugly, you"re exhausted. There"s to be so numerous super lengthy days and also there"s every these dances and also all these songs. It"s a huge undertaking. But when us reshoot that final scene, you"re all rested, we hadn"t viewed each other in a couple months, we’re adding in another girl who"s fun and knows what she"s doing. Everyone is having actually a ball.

The genuine Coyote Ugly in new York City has actually low ceilings, so friend can"t really shoot in there. The bar is a little bit based on Hogs and Heifers, the doesn"t exist anymore; that looked a lot much more like the movie set. Yet it to be cool. It really felt like a bar due to the fact that it had 4 walls and everything was real.

RIMES: I was 17. Ns was supervisor young and also here ns am, they"re cram me on a bar dance in these super sexy clothes. I think because I started in the country people at together a young age — ns remember wanting to show my midriff because, like, Shania Twain was doing it and all the various other girls, and also my mom and everybody in ~ the label was like, “No, you could never execute that!” So, here I am at 17, about to go on a bar in these sexy clothes, and also they room handing me those chicken cutlet points that you put in your bra. The was pretty much my crash course into, like, sex sells. <Laughs.> ns remember just kind of going, “How perform I put these on?” It to be pretty funny.

WARREN: Anytime a song of mine have the right to have impact, i love it. And I love that scene. Ns mean, i love the whole movie, but I love that scene since it yes, really was that moment, the celebratory moment. I"m very proud of that song. I"m proud of every little thing I did in that movie.

PERABO: i would always actually sing <“Can’t fight the Moonlight”>. I"m never lip-synching because then you lose — the breath length isn"t right. So, I simply sing understanding that we"re going to re-record the sound. Since in those bar scenes, there was every kinds the extras and also bottles and also glass and footsteps, and also there"s every kinds of points that you"re walking to have to clean increase in the sound anyway. So, i sing out for real, so the my breath is correct, for this reason that when I take a breath, girlfriend really view my tummy expand and also I to the end of mine breath.

RIMES: I execute have . I think it"s actually at the Grammy Museum ideal now. I haven’t in reality tried that on since. I think i’ll fit into it! <Laughs.

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> among these days when I get it back, ns think that’ll need to be my Halloween costume.