“Music is about moments,” Delta Goodrem tells Apple Music. “You continually move on to the next one, but to have an album that was such a juggernaut, and to have created something that took on a life of its own and became a soundtrack to people’s lives, is an incredible experience that I will treasure forever.” “Juggernaut” is an accurate description of the pop artist’s 2003 debut album—the 15-times-platinum record was the highest-selling album in Australia for the entire 2000s and remains one of the country’s all-time top albums. And while the singer, songwriter, actor, and TV personality has since released four more albums, Innocent Eyes, and particularly its lead single, “Born to Try,” have remained Goodrem’s biggest and most beloved achievements. “It means as much to me now as it did back then, and I am lucky I still get to live the album when I play the songs live,” she says. “It was a very organic and pure time in my life. I felt trusted as an artist and in my vision for the record. I was and continue to be very proud that the songs I wrote and envisioned were brought to life on the album.” Below, Goodrem details her favorite moments on Innocent Eyes.
Born to Try “One of the strongest memories I have of ‘Born to Try’ is the original demo. That demo is what changed my life. I felt like I had written a song that lyrically said exactly who I was. I’d listen on repeat as my mum would drive me to wherever we were going—it felt like I listened to it a million times. The day I wrote it, I distinctly remember my co-writer, Audius Mtawarira, saying, ‘Should we write one more song or should we just go play some more basketball?’ We had already written three songs over the two days we spent together. I told Audius that I really wanted to write a ballad like ‘I’m Kissing You’ by Des'ree. Audius sat down at the piano to play and I stood with my microphone. We played and sang the entire verse and chorus of what it is today. The song was written in 20 minutes; we then went back out to play basketball. Cut to: being 17 years old and in New York City recording the song. All of the musicians were in the studio with me. I was in a vocal booth singing at the same time as they were playing. I remember Tommy Mottola at Sony Music saying that he wanted the beat to feel like ‘Nothing Compares 2 U.’ I sang it once through and the engineer said, ‘Do you realize you’re always going to have to sing that big note right in the middle of the song? People are always going to expect it. Are you sure you want to do it?’ And I said, ‘Yes, of course!’ I understand a little more about what he was saying now, but I of course wouldn’t change it.”
Innocent Eyes “The meaning was exactly what the lyrics said, in the sense that I was a teenager, a dreamer and navigating the waters of growing up. I really remember three important parts within the domino effect of what the song is today. For the first, I remember saying to Vince Pizzinga—my co-writer and kindred musical friend—that all of a sudden, cartoons just don’t look the same one day, and that makes me sad. I was already questioning the world and saying, ‘Hang on a minute—I loved watching cartoons, why can’t I escape into them now?’ I have always loved a good imagination. The song is about innocence fading and realizing I was stepping into a whole new world: ‘In a cartoon land of mysteries/In a place you won't grow old.’ The second important part to this song was that I really thought we needed a ‘lalala dadada’ song, hence the ‘da da da da da da.’ The third important part is the piano. Every single bit of that piano piece I had written as individual pieces of music. Art can be anything you want it to be, it doesn’t have to be in the same key, and ‘Innocent Eyes’ proves that. Vince Pizzinga, being his extraordinary self, sat with me and we went through all of my piano pieces. We chose individual music parts and put them into a formation. The song really represented an area of me that was a little more eccentric and I felt it was really important to share. Musically, ‘Born to Try’ was one half of me and ‘Innocent Eyes’ was the other half of me, and for this reason it was crucial that it was track two on the album.”
Not Me, Not I & Predictable “Classical piano is a big part of who I am as an artist, and these two piano pieces were an extension of that. Finding the main themes you hear in the piano’s pattern were and still to this day are very important to my songwriting. I want to talk about ‘Not Me, Not I’ and ‘Predictable’ together because they were written the same weekend. The piano pieces for both songs were parts that I had previously written and brought into the studio. The label had flown Kara DioGuardi to Melbourne to work with me. She was one of the first female songwriters that they had introduced to me. Kara is an amazing songwriter and an incredible female powerhouse. She was tough and strong, but also very protective of me at the same time, and I responded well to it. ‘Not Me, Not I’ and ‘Predictable’ were written because my boyfriend at the time had left a voicemail on my phone for another girl. I was in the studio when I got it and I was a bit shocked, naturally. I played the voicemail for Kara and she said, ‘We’re going to write No. 1 songs about this!’ We wrote two No. 1 hits from the fact that I got a voicemail that was meant for another girl. ‘Predictable’ was the uptempo track of the record, but when you go back and listen to it, it sounds so incredibly slow compared to today’s music. I can’t believe I thought that was my uptempo.”
Will You Fall for Me “‘Will You Fall for Me’ was the second song I wrote for the album. I really loved the chorus chord changes. I remember writing it at my parents’ house when I was in Sydney in between filming. The lyric ‘I’m playing the role of someone else’ literally meant my character Nina on Neighbours. I wrote it as a birthday present for someone that I subsequently wrote ‘Not Me, Not I’ and ‘Predictable’ about as well. The main takeaway was that I reinterpreted the lyrics from this song to a different meaning, which was asking the listener, ‘Will you fall for me?’—the way I've fallen for you—meaning how I had fallen in love with the music and the people listening.”