Thursday, March 10, 2011

Novelists don't necessarily make the best lyricists

When I was ready to post Remember Newvember on Authonomy I realized the book was riddled with copyright issues. “Borrowing” someone else’s work for inspiration is one thing, but blatantly stealing it is something else altogether. I spent several days researching the ins and outs of copyright, trying to figure out a way to maintain the integrity of the story while holding on tight to all those song lyrics. Everything pointed to the same thing; I needed to obtain permission from whoever held the copyrights.
Have you ever tried to track down copyrights to a song? The lyrics rights are usually held by one person, the guitar line by another and the drums by yet another. Every musician in any given band owns a piece of each song he worked on. I only wanted the lyrics, but even then it got tricky because sometimes the artist himself didn’t actually own the rights to his own work. The more I researched, the more I discovered I just didn’t have the education, the resources or the contacts to be able to legally use someone else’s work.
Although I knew the likelihood of an artist tracking me down to sue me for promoting their work was pretty slim, I decided I wasn’t about to take the chance of having to deal with an expensive law suit. The simplest solution was to try my own hand at writing lyrics. I learned something very important. I am not a lyricist. In fact, I can barely throw together a four line stanza and call it poetry.
For example:

Gimme, gimme, gimme
Mine, mine mine,
The world should kneel before my feet
If you aren’t me you must be swine

Social Distortion – “I Want What I Want”

Because I want what I want
And I want it now
You mean this great big world
Doesn't revolve around me?


Sex for pleasure,
Sex for fun,
Sex lost the war and VD won.

Circle Jerks – “15 Minutes”

15 minutes of fun, pleasure
Now you're gonna go insane
And a trip, trip
Down to the free clinic

I would like to think that I improved with practice:
"Fragments of my life,
Scattered all around.
Shards of broken glass
Are all that can be found.
You can’t help repair it,
It lays shattered on the ground."
Images are reflected,
Disjointed in the glass.
Reflective of my broken life,
Haunted by my past.
You can’t fix this mirror,
Or this soul of shattered glass.


Billy Talent – “Rusted From the Rain”
"I stumble through the wreckage
Rusted from the rain
There's nothing left to salvage
No one left to blame
Among the broken mirrors
I don't look the same
I'm rusted from the rain
Go on crush me like a flower, rusted from the rain
Come on, strip me of my power, beat me with your chains
And if I'm the king of cowards, you're the queen of pain
I'm rusted from the rain, I'm rusted from the rain"
The question that remains is whether or not I achieved the desired effect of bringing the emotional feel of the music into the story. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to convince an unsuspecting musician to set my “lyrics” to music. Until then, you’ll just have to make up the tune all on your own.


  1. Hello, Jenny

    Thanks for popping by my blog and following.

    Copyright is a serious issue and shouldn't be taken ligthly. Best to get inspired and avoid the same words, but have already figured that.

    Very nice layout of you blog, by the way.

  2. The picture to the gilded cage one struck me as being a perfect cover for a book!

    Hi Jenny, found this on authonomy.

    (outback writer)

  3. Sounds good actually, me likes. <3 I've tried to write ongs before but only once did the lyrics come with a melody. I remember it to this day but sadly can't play. Sigh. I love your blog, btw, it's a very neat idea. :)

  4. Sometimes, I think we are our own worst critics when it comes to writing. I'm glad you like the blog - it's great to know that someone out there is reading it.