Charlie Puth Discovers Berklee Genesis of Hit 'See You Again'

By 
Kimberly Ashton
July 18, 2018

Sometimes a song can be inside you for years, not yet ready to surface.

Charlie Puth B.M. '13 talks with his former instructor, Kara DioGuardi.
Image courtesy of Spotify

Sitting on the Red Room stage where he played his first live show, and where he had returned on July 12 to talk to three dozen students about songwriting, Charlie Puth B.M. ‘13 became overwhelmed when he heard an unexpected piece of writing—his own, from years ago.

Kara DioGuardi, his former teacher, sat across from him holding the audition sheet Puth had submitted to take her 2012 class, Hit Songwriting. To gain admittance to the class, DioGuardi had asked candidates to propose two original concepts for songs, with a couple of lines describing what the pieces would be about.

“And do you know who you spoke about?” she asked Puth.

Puth, quiet and sounding slightly lost, asked, “Who did I speak—” and then stopped himself, “Oh, wow.”

"I wanted to so badly write a song for him that very moment but I didn’t have it in me. It happened two years later. I feel like crying right now.”—Charlie Puth B.M. '13

As he fell silent, DioGuardi read from the sheet a passage about a song Puth wanted to write called “The Edge of the Unknown”:

“I would develop this lyrically in a way that represents the afterlife and what happens when one dies. I would relate it to the recorded conversations I had with my best friend, Vail Cerullo, before he was killed in a motorcycle accident.”

DioGuardi continued with Puth’s idea for the second song, “Commonwealth”:

“Again revisiting the element of my best friend’s life. On this tune, I would develop it lyrically in way that represents my reflection upon Vail … the lyrics would be ‘These last couple days I haven’t been myself because I know I wouldn’t be seeing you on Commonwealth again.’”

Two years later, in a Los Angeles studio, Puth would write his hit “See You Again,” which has since racked up 3.7 billion views on YouTube. But he hadn’t realized the connection until that moment onstage with DioGuardi.

“Body chills. Absolute body chills right now,” he said. “...I remember when I found out that my friend passed away on the bridge in 2012, in June, (and) I wanted to so badly write a song for him that very moment but I didn’t have it in me. It happened two years later. I feel like crying right now.”

Sometimes, DioGuardi said, a song can be inside you for years, not yet ready to surface.

“And the thing that I wrote to you two years prior finally comes to life. So never get discouraged. I’m so overwhelmed right now. That’s absolutely unbelievable,” Puth added.

You can’t escape your truth, DioGuardi said. “When something moves you like that, it is your destiny to write it. You have to write it.”

Read more takeaways from Charlie Puth's talk with Kara DioGuardi.

Watch the video for "See You Again":

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