“Her voice is like an old fiddle,” says Brian Byrne of Sinead O’Connor. “There’s no other voice in the world like it.” Which is why the composer was thrilled when she agreed to sing “Lay Your Head Down,” the end-credits track for “Albert Nobbs,” whose score Byrne wrote.

The lyrics are by Glenn Close, the pic’s star as well as its co-writer and producer. Yet laying down the track was almost a disaster.

“Sinead loved the song, but she couldn’t record it in Ireland because of an Eastern European tour,” Byrne says.

As a result, a remote set-up was arranged in Bulgaria — with Byrne in Ireland and Close, connected by phone, in America. Unfortunately, the system broke down almost immediately, and Skype had to be used instead. “It’s great for a conversation but not for a multitrack recording,” Byrne notes.

On top of that, O’Connor had barely looked at the song before the session. “The first three hours did not go well at all,” Byrne recalls. “Sinead would say, ‘How does it sound?’ And I’d say, ‘I don’t really know.’ Essentially, we were rehearse-recording. Glenn finally hung up.”

Then, six and half hours in, “Sinead was rocking. She said she ‘had it in her bones,'” Byrne remembers. “She sang the song 167 times, and we found the proper performance about 120 in. It really shouldn’t have come together. I still can’t believe we actually have a song.”

Eye on the Oscars: Song & Score
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