Read Greta Gerwig’s letters to Justin Timberlake and Alanis Morissette asking for ‘Lady Bird’ music rights

Gerwig directed the critically acclaimed movie, which stars Saoirse Ronan as the titular Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig has shared the unusual way she got the rights to use songs by Justin Timberlake, Alanis Morissette and Dave Matthews Band in her new film, Lady Bird.

The actor wrote the screenplay for and directed the coming-of-age movie, which stars Saoirse Ronan as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson.

The film utilises tracks like Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me A River’, Morissette’s ‘Hand In My Pocket’, and Dave Matthews Band’s ‘Crash’. While appearing on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Gerwig revealed she wrote letters to each artist to procure the rights to the songs.

The letter to Timberlake began: “I mean, what can I say? You’re Justin Timberlake. You were the soundtrack to my adolescence. Your rise corresponded with my very awkward puberty. Between *NSYNC and your solo work every year of my growing up was defined by your sound. I pretty much wouldn’t be an adult without you.”

Gerwig then went on to explain the premise of the film to the musician, including the fact that it is set “between the fall of 2002 and the fall of 2003” – the same time as ‘Justified’ was released. The filmmaker told Timberlake she had bought a CD and cassette tape of the record “because my car didn’t have a CD player.”

Explaining why she wanted to use ‘Cry Me A River’ in Lady Bird, she said: “It is sultry and sullen and infectious – what ‘Gimme Shelter’ must have felt like to the kids of the late ’60s.”

In the note to Morissette, Gerwig wrote about ‘Jagged Little Pill’ being the first tape she ever bought and recalled taking it to a sleepover party where she and her friends all played their favourite songs for each other. “I played ‘Hand In My Pocket’ because my mother told me that ‘Perfect’ might be a little too heavy for a 5th grade slumber party,” she added.

She also included a link to Ronan singing a cover of ‘Ironic’ in the first film she was in, and concluded by writing: “Thank you so much for considering this request, and thank you for making all the music you did. You made a lot of girls feel like they could do anything.”

Writing to Dave Matthews, she said: “I wish I could go back in time and tell my sixteen-year-old self that this moment was coming – she’d never believe me, but truth be told, my thirty-two-year-old self hardly can believe it either.”

Read the letters and watch Gerwig’s interview with Seth Meyers above, via Stereogum.