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RECORD WOMAN: I write the songs that make the whole world cry In my mind I feel like a star in my own songs; She's the Queen of Charts, but despite penning some of the greatest romantic hits, Diane Warren can't find love.

THE face may not be familiar, but everyone could sing along to at least one of her songs.

Diane Warren is the world's most successful songwriter, penning some of the greatest love ballads of modern times. But amazingly, this queen of romance hasn't had a date in five years.

Diane, 43, is the anonymous and incredibly her four Oscar nominations in four years and those in the music industry regard her song-writing skills as a 'sure bet'incredibly modest face behind such monster hits as Toni Braxton's Unbreak My Heart, Aerosmith's I Don't Want to Miss a Thing and LeAnn Rimes' How Do I Live.

Yet she has never married and lives alone with her parrot, Buttwings.

Despite penning numerous love songs, she is slightly dismissive of some of the sentiments they express.

Mentioning the first line of her song I Don't Want To Miss A Thing - 'I could stay awake just to hear you breathing' - Diane said: "God, I wouldn't want someone staying up all night hearing me breathe.

"I could think of that when the song's done, but it's a beautiful sentiment for someone to think that - I can't be cynical when I'm writing.

"I'm more cynical and sarcastic on the outside. But deep inside, I am romantic. It doesn't take much to bring tears to my eyes."

In Hollywood, where she lives and works, Diane is regarded as the closest bet to a sure thing, with four Oscar nominations for her songs in the past four years.

Beyond Hollywood, her work is the most played and performed of any songwriter in America.

Three of the biggest songs of the past decade are among her 75 top 120 hits, 55 movie songs and one Olympic anthem - Reach, performed by Gloria Estefan for the Atlanta Games.

It may still need Barry White to get into the bedroom, but Diane's songs should at least get you invited in for coffee.

Last year alone her copyrights grossed more than pounds 15million for her company, RealSongs.

Artists including Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Ricky Martin, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Aretha Franklin have recorded Warren songs,

And record company heads get on their knees begging her to write for an artist they hope to launch. Mostly she is happy to oblige, because she is still ravenous for success.

Every day, Diane dons her lucky socks and is in the office by 8.30am.

She works 12 hours a day, except Sunday, when she doodles lyrics on notepads scattered around her house. In fact, she does little other than work. But if her schedule ever let up, could she imagine herself with a man?

She revealed: "I haven't even dated anybody for a few years. I'm not interested in it. I'd rather go to work.

"Someone has to be a really strong person for me. They have to be really confident and strong and not intimidated.

"A lot of guys are really intimidated, even though they act like they're not.

"I almost need a wife. I can't be someone's caretaker.

"I'm kind of high maintenance, not in the fact that I need someone always around, but I could never be someone taking care of somebody.

"So if I was with anybody, they'd definitely have to be a workaholic, do their own thing, not bother me."

Her office, known as the Cave, is not much more than a cupboard, strewn with CDs and demo tapes, with a framed copy of her first million-dollar cheque on the piano.

No-one else is allowed in there. For interview purposes, she prefers a bland meeting room with a large window looking out on to sun-bleached Los Angeles.

But she said: "I still don't think I've made it. That's the weird thing. I know I have. Believe me, I get the cheques to prove it.

"But in my mind, I still feel like this struggling songwriter. I still come in and work harder than I ever have."

She added: "It hasn't gone to my head. For the most part, it's like I keep looking at a blank piece of paper.

"I could write the greatest song in the world - the next day I'm back to square one. So it's not good to get arrogant about it."

Diane writes roughly one song a week, beginning on a Monday morning and setting down the final note on Friday evening.

Her critics say her approach results in vanilla pop. She sees herself more in the tradition of other songwriting machines, such as Irving Berlin, Carole King and Burt Bacharach.

She explained: "We're back to a time of manufactured artists. It's a producer, song- writer business."

Diane grew up in the Valley, the great sprawl of suburban Los Angeles regarded by many as the definitive American suburb.

Everyone drives everywhere in the Valley, from shopping mall to home and back again.

Valley Girls are known across America as a bit dim, obsessed with shopping, make-up and sex. Monica Lewinsky was one.

Diane lived her youth to the soundtrack of pop on the radio - not the angry punk and rock coming out of New York or London, but the cheery sounds of whitebread pop music.

She said: "I'm a radio child. I grew up wanting to be on the radio and for me, pop music is everything. Pop means popular."

Diane began writing when she was 11, but when she was 14, "a lightning bolt hit me and I became obsessed".

She went to college for a couple of years, but says she spent most of her time writing songs at the back of the class and never graduated.

Despite constant knockbacks, she never considered giving up writing.

Diane explained: "I never wavered in my commitment to this, no matter what. No matter when I had no money, when people were hanging up the phone on me and sending back my tapes.

"I was depressed beyond belief and very angry, but I was never not going to do this. This is what I was put here to do."

Her main support during those early years was her father, David Wolfberg, an insurance salesman who, she says, changed his name to make it less Jewish-sounding.

She was thinking of him when she wrote Because You Love Me for the Robert Redford-Michelle Pfeiffer film, Up Close and Personal.

Yet it seems baffling that Diane, who appears to have no interest in a love life, could write such universally popular love songs.

She said: "You can read what you want into my songs. Take How Do I Live. That could mean anything. You could be singing it to your kid.

"In my case, how would I live without music, how would I survive without being able to write?"

Reach is about her own professional triumph. "It took me so long to get where I am. A lot of things I write, even if they're not about me, there's some kind of emotional pull," she said.

When she sings fragments of her songs, it is in a small, breathy, timid voice, at odds with the rest of her spunky manner.

She bridles at the suggestion that her own lack of a romantic love life makes her a peculiar love-song writer or that she writes cynically for effect.

"When I'm writing them, I'm believing them," she says. "I can be cynical when I'm done, but not when I'm writing them."

Diane's last relationship, with Guy Roche, the producer and co-writer of Christina Aguilera's recent hit What a Girl Wants, ended eight years ago.

Not long afterwards, Los Angeles was rocked by an earthquake which killed 61 people and knocked Diane's house off its foundations.

The experiences left her miserable and homeless, drifting from hotels to rental houses.

She recalled: "I wasn't happy. I didn't like what I was writing and I didn't like my life."

A few years ago, she started therapy. When she asked her therapist: "Why am I in therapy?", the reply came: "You're successful, you're attractive, you're smart and your best friend's a parrot. That's why you belong in therapy."

Diane said: "When I started therapy, people were saying: "You'd better watch out, because it's really, like, going to screw up your writing".

"But I found the second I got there, my songs got better. I believe the deeper you get, the more you understand things."

Soon after starting therapy, she wrote one of her biggest hits, Unbreak My Heart.

"That paid for it," she laughed.

Christina Aguilera

The American teenage singer Christina had chart success with I Turn To You

Patti La Belle

Soul diva Patti is one of the many big names in music who have recorded a Diane Warren tuneUnbreak My Heart was a massive hit for Toni. Diane joked it helped pay for her therapy

LeAnn Rimes success for LeAnn. In Diane's case, the lyrics referred to her music

Diane's top hits

Diane's face may not be familiar, but her songs are - and they include some of the world's biggest-selling tracks If I Could Turn Back Time - Cher

I'd Lie For You And That's The Truth - Meatloaf

Because You Love Me - Celine Dion

I Turn To You - Christina Aguilera

Unbreak My Heart - Toni Braxton

Rhythm Of The Night - DeBarge

Faith Of The Heart - Rod Stewart

From The Heart - Another Level

Blue Eyes Blue - Eric Clapton

I Don't Want To Miss A Thing - Aerosmith

How Do I Live - LeAnn Rimes

Reach - Gloria Estefan

Give Me You - Mary J Blige
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Porter, Susanna
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 28, 2000
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