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Can you help a writer out….

January 20, 2014
music 9

Lets Rock, Dude!
photo from yahoo


Hey Y’all,

Recently I did something that is against my personal convictions. I paid for the upgraded version of Pandora Radio. Reviewing my families’ finances, I noticed that I have been paying for XM satellite radio on a yearly basis. On face value it is an insidious, nominal fee that only comes once a year. The yearly subscription is just over $140.00 a year. It isn’t a deal, just a one-time fee and besides I make a lot of money. It makes me feel good, it makes me cool, gives me freedom, the chicks dig it. How could a guy who drives a Hyundai Sonata say no?

The other side of the coin is that I was so addicted to the satellite radio that I needed to have it in every car. 140.00 times 3 = TOO MUCH MONEY! A few months ago, I cancelled all three subscriptions, ripped the external mounting brackets from the place holders and begrudgingly sent Pandora their blood money of 3.99 to make unlimited, commercial free music appear on my phone. I love Pandora by the way and wish I had done this a couple years ago.

Last week, I was reading my usual blog sites and came across a post that shook up my writing mind. Since training ended, I have been getting back into the writing mode, trying to finish up the book so that my brother can take my 3rd grade words and turn them into something amazing. I am actually closing in on a finished product. It is very exciting to be able to see the end. But there is some bad news.



Mr. Chris McMullen and his daughter
Photo from his blog.


One of the blogs that I read regularly is hosted by a gentleman named Chris McMullen. He is a writer, marking guru, self-published author, and really smart guy who honestly want to help his fellow writers get published.


This is his bio from the blog: “Physics Instructor & Author About my blog: As an experienced self-published author, I created this blog to help and interest other aspiring writers. I hope that you will find some useful information here. About me: I’m a physics instructor and self-published writer. My writing includes visual books on the fourth dimension, math workbooks, golf and chess log books, books on self-publishing, and puzzle books. Originally from one L.A. (Los Angeles), I now live in another L.A. (Louisiana). I have a Ph.D. in phenomenological high-energy physics, I am a passionate teacher and nonfiction writer, and I enjoy golf, Scrabble, and chess.”

Chris is a prolific blogger who puts up several posts daily. Most everything he does is related to the craft of writing, the publishing world or how to market a book. Last week he had a link to a post from another blog about using music lyrics in writing. Here are the posts.

In my work, the main character Eddie loves music and in three separate scenes he sings some lines from different songs. The lyrics from the songs are used as a tool that allows me to explore a different character’s backstory or the lyrics are woven into the action. I know that is kind of lame but it is just a tool that helps me create a scene. I know several writers who write using this method. I don’t know any author who has a published book using this technique.

I understand that musical artists want to get paid for their work. We all want to get paid for our creative works. But, I cannot justify calling the guys from Molly Hatchet, Bad Company or the Who and paying them for permission to use their songs. Especially when I haven’t made a single nickel from my writing and the odds are not in my favor of making big money either. I discovered the big publishing companies don’t want authors to quote copyrighted lyrics because it costs too much money. Armed with this knowledge, I have come to the realization that those three scenes will have to be re-written.



Molly Hatchet circa 1979.
Photo from yahoo.


I don’t mind re-writing the scenes, but I had another thought. Why don’t I write my own lyrics? It can’t be that hard. Justin Bieber does it. I decided that this would be the course I would take and if I failed then I would just re-write the scene. No worries, but as I started to form some lyrics, I had a second thought. There may be others in the same position as me. Wanting to use some lyrics in their work so I would like to make an offer to all you writers out there, let’s make music baby!



Lynyrd Skynyrd circa 1975
photo form yahoo


If anyone wants to suggest some song lyrics, I will be happy to collect them and formulate them into a song. Since we are going to take credit for the work, we can use them as we see the need. After the lyrics are composed and posted, anyone who collaborates in this small project can use them and will have the ability to quote them without fear of legal retribution. So if you want to participate, send me your thoughts and I will compose them. Your name will be in the credits so it is equally yours to use as you wish.



Grand Funk Railroad circa 1970
photo from yahoo


Now, once you send them, we all must agree that no one will expect to receive any compensation from this project. The only reward is that we can use the words. Also, if a person chooses not to submit an idea, please don’t use the lyrics. Now that the legal department is satisfied, let’s make music baby.

I envision the music coming from a mid-1970s classic rock type song along the lines of Molly Hatchet’s “Flirting with Disaster”, Bad Company’s “Bad Company”, and The Who “Behind Blue Eyes.” A musically simple song that exploded onto the scene in the post-Vietnam era with legendary probing lyrics of anger directed towards the establishment, the atrocities of society, and the promise of rugged individualism.


music 4

The Who circa 1974
photo from yahoo


I am not thinking about Pop, Country, Urban Contemporary, Hard Rock or Disco styles music. But there is no reason why your mythical music group couldn’t re-do the song in any style they want. The name of the group is Shady A and the Beautifuls. Imagine them as a combination of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Grand Funk Railroad. Long hair, Bell Bottom jeans, sequenced shirts living the era of free love and traveling the country in the Mystery Van filled with a smoky haze.



Not as cool as the A-Team’s van. But I still like it.
photo from yahoo


The Song Title is “Lost in the Rain.” A typical anthem of the 1970s, this song is a staple of the classic rock radio, television commercials and political conventions. Shady A and the Beautifuls were a group whose hard living and uncompromising ways tore them apart by the early 1980s. Going their different ways, they reunited in 1997 for a reunion tour that ended poorly. Besieged by debt, drug abuse, and end fighting they were the musical genius that never was.


music 10

Bad Company circa 1976
photo from yahoo


In 1995, I saw Bad Company on their Holy Water tour. They put on a good show but what made that concert memorable for me was a guy that was standing a couple rows in front of me. A middle aged man with shoulder length graying dark hair, Standing tall and slender in his Levi jeans, a plain white tee shirt, biker jacket and boots. No he didn’t look anything like Fonzie.



When I was ten, I thought the Fonz was cool, until he jumped the shark. Even a ten year old knew he was nothing like Evil Knievel.
photo from yahoo


He was a real bad dude. The entire show, while I was jumping around like a jack wagon, he never moved. He just stood motionless with his arms crossed. Two hours later, it was time for the final encore and Bad Company played their iconic song “Bad Company.” The dude that never moved finally moved. He started tapping his right foot to the music. After the song was over he disappeared into the crowd. Coolest guy I have ever seen.


music 6

I don’t know who this dude is, but he is a cool dude. This is the guy that I want to impress with the song. When he taps his foot, you know that you are speaking to him.
photo from yahoo


Send me some lyrics and we will write a song that makes this guy tap his foot. Until next time, keep on rockin!

From → writing

  1. That’s a cool idea. :-) Thank you for mentioning me and my blog in your post. And let me thank Susan Uttendorfsky for writing that great article on the use of music lyrics in books, and Chris the Storyreading Ape for featuring that article on his blog.

    There was an interesting discussion of this point at the CreateSpace community forum recently: LightHouse24 made a valuable note about how to properly and more efficiently seek permission.

    • Chris,

      It is my pleasure to tell my little side of the world about your site. You do a great job over there and I have learned so much from you. My thanks to you.

  2. Good luck with the project! I came across this short Q&A on Writer’s Digest about the topic:
    They said not to worry about getting permission for using song lyrics until you’re going to be published, and often times the publisher will help in securing the permission. But if you’re an indie author, I guess you’d have to go it alone.
    Great post! Good luck!

    • David,

      Thanks for stopping in. I agree that I have read conflicting information about this topic. I think you and I both have the same goals, to rule our parts of the publishing world. If that were to happen, I would hate to be caught up in anything that resembles a court room. Better to be safe than sorry.

      Plus, if this song makes it big, there are more royalties to share. And I am all about getting paid! Ha ha.

  3. I’ve thought about paying for Pandora. I love the different stations, but not sure I’d listen to it enough to justify the expenditure. We don’t pay for cable either, although we did finally get a Netflix account. CHEEAAAPPP!

    • Julie,

      As always, thanks for the comment. I wondered the same thing about Pandora. I bought a gadget that broadcasts over the car FM radio station. In my area it works great but there has to be a channel that does not have a strong signal. I plug it in and let it play.

  4. I would love to send you some lyrics! But my brain is not working. :) And Pandora… I was thinking that a box we should not open. Okay, I’m the person who still buys CD’s for a song I like. One day I’ll get up to speed. Off to read Chris blog now. :)Thank you!

    • Karlene,

      Thanks for the comment. I will hold my breath anxiously waiting your lyrics. I have had some suggestions offline so hopefully this will lead to something useful for someone. I need about four lines in total so not much but it would be much easier with a entire song.

      I do the CD thing too but only for a group that I already know and love. I have downloaded songs/albums too but I really like to have something to hold. I am old school like that as well.

      Done spend much time over at Chris’ place because I cant hold my breath much longer. Turning purple….the room is getting dark and spinning….I just had a great line pop into my head… it is perfect…

  5. Where do you want us to send the lyrics? Also….should I admit to this music being before my time? ;-)

    • e-mail is great.

      I did the lyrics to one song but I need another. I will send you everything I got, you can change it anyway you want and they will be ours. I love working around problems

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