Saturday, June 13, 2009


Yesterday I posted that I was grounding myself from blogging so I could get my revision and editing done. I should be sitting in the corner with my dunce cap on but I'm rebelling because I need some writer advice. :) And technically this IS part of my revision process, so I don't feel guilty.

SONGS. Who the heck knew quoting a song or two in your novel could cause such a hullabaloo?! I used to have old song lyrics (Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra etc) at the beginning of a few of my scenes. I also quote two or three lines from a U2, Beatles and Frank Sinatra song. NOW, after reading posts about what a pain it is to obtain permission to use songs in a novel, I've done some reevaluating.

Chapter intro songs got cut. No biggie there. Frank song, I'm thinking of just saying Frank's voice sang over the radio (not quote exact lyrics). Beatles song, I can cut without a piece of my heart breaking away. BUT my U2 song quote is more about the underlying message behind the couple lines. SO...I'm thinking...what if I have my MC say she's quoting the band E3 (or whatever...obvious, but not actually U2) and MAKE UP song lyrics that are similar so the meaning is still there, but not U2's lyrics? Do you think that's a good alternative?

I don't want agents to read my book and turn up their nose because there's a song quote in my first 100 pages. What do you think?

PS, If anyone knows Bono could you have him call me so I can get his permission? Thanks. :)


  1. Yeah, I'll get Bono on the phone right away. Lol, I wish. :D I think making up some lyrics would be a decent alternative. I really have no idea how hard it is to get permission to quote lyrics, so who knows. Bleh. I'm going to watch this post to see what everyone else says.

  2. You are right to revise. I did a post on copyright and using songs in your ms. Unless it is in the public domain (pre 1922), you can't do it. Your idea is a good do a knock off. Don't quote me as your legal advice, but I'd say it would be ok.

    That's my vote :D

  3. Hmmm, I have no clue. Good luck with that!

  4. Update: I rewrote the scene last night. Changed the band name (the new one actually reflects hidden meaning of the MC) and I wrote my own lyrics. I'm actually THRILLED with it. I may like it better the new way. So yay for rules! Bending them may have made my story that much better. Though if Bono calls and say I can use his stuff I might change it back :)

  5. Hi,
    New to your blog and late to this discussion, but you can always contact ASCAP and ask what is permissable. Sometimes it's okay to use a line. Or you could paraphrase like 'Frank was singing about that ol' black magic'
    But it sounds like you found a solution that is making you really happy!
    An artist friend of mine wrote an incredible cookbook with paintings of musicians and snippets of songs to fit the recipes, only to be told she couldn't use the songs. Total drag.


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