Tag Archives: music lyrics in fiction

Venus de Milo 2011

"I'm just a holy fool and baby he's so cruel, but I'm still in love with Judas, baby! Ho-o-o-o-o, I'm in love with Ju-da-as... Ju-da-as!!!!!"

Finally sat down and listened to the new Lady Gaga album…


I love her music; it’s sexy and fucky, making it the perfect soundtrack for an androgynous draw-o-thon.  With her help, I’ve reached the last page of my Moleskine– unbelievably. This is the very last drawing– Venus de Milo, or my interpretation anyway of what her face and body would look like.–

The aim of the notebook was to try to branch out with some other medias, incorporate limited color and force myself to clean up some sloppy technical habits I’ve ignored over the years… Heh, who knows if it worked, but it was fun. Maybe that was another hidden aspect of the notebook project–to make drawing fun again, as I had become very secretive and sensitive over the past few years, when drawing a pic (for me anyway) is supposed to be about the fun of fantasizing of a perfect world (one 30 cm by 25 cm drawing at a time). And if it doesn’t end up being perfect –so be it!

In the meantime, if you haven’t listened to the new Gaga album yet, I recommend you go out and do it–if you like unpretentious dance music, that is. I was not a teen in the 80s, so I can’t say, but listening to her album is what I can imagine people felt like when they listened to one of Madonna’s albums in the 80s, before she got all esoteric on our collective Ass. The Lady (talking about Gaga now) is a talented song-writer, nobody can argue with that; I like a song with a good hook that gets stuck in my head–I like a song that screams ‘sing me in the shower and ruin this Sound-Bridge’  (hahahaha, no Fail, I’m not looking at you)–and a pop star who still makes songs about dancing, picking up hot boys (and girls) and the clothes she wants to wear (not getting all navel-gaze-y about the mass retardation of the media and the music industry in general.)

Speaking of the mass retardation of the music industry… So, in my graphic novel, I probably quote from about 25 songs (::laughs::) and my publisher was like… sorry, but you’re going to have to take all those lyrics out. We can’t afford to buy the rights to these songs… and I was like… oh. You have to buy the rights? But I very clearly SAY that I am quoting a song… I’m not trying to steal the lyrics in any way… I have a song-o-graphy at the end of the book and everything…

Doesn’t matter. Apparently, any time you quote lyrics from a song in your work of fiction (even if it is only one line), you are now bound by law to buy the rights to the song. Depending on how much you quote (and how often the quoted line(s) appears in the actual song), you’re looking at potentially thousands of dollars for ONE song. So say you want your character to sing “Annie, are you ok?” in the shower in one scene… be prepared to sell your first born, because that line only appears about a kajillion times in MJs ‘Smooth Criminal’, making it fuckdiculously expensive.

And because I quote from not one but close to 30 songs… buying the rights is simply not happening. Now, I am a bit torn as to what to do. On the one hand, since the book is about teens, I find those songs pretty important to the feel/sound of the entire thing… I could keep them in a way by just saying their names and the band name (song names apparently can’t be copyrighted, so you’re allowed to use them in fiction–probably how Nick Hornby got away with mentioning all those songs in his novel ‘High Fidelity’…)… but I figure… if I keep them, without the lyrics… perhaps it would be better to just take them out all together– (then the work won’t be stuck in our time, our time, our time… though I did try, for the most part, to select songs from bands that are not one hit wonders and will be known/remembered even by someone reading the book say ten years from now…)

Or, as J suggested, I could come up with parody lyrics.. >:P Sigh… but as I am not a song-writer, I doubt I could make up anything as good as the real songs… Oh curses on the fucking music industry and their money grabbing ways! Most ridiculous was while I was searching for these informations on various forums and MBs, I came across a place where they asked posters if they thought quoting lyrics in fiction without buying rights should be allowed or not. Though the majority said yes, it should be allowed… I was shocked that it was not such an overwhelming majority. Maybe 60/40. The argument of the 40 percent was, for the most part: Of course people can’t quote songs in fiction without buying the rights… that’s plagiarism.’ I didn’t want to create a stupid user account for this site just so I could go on that board and write: ‘No, that’s not plagiarism. That’s retarded. PLAGIARISM is when you pretend to have made something up yourself. Like the following:

Jim: With the lights out, it’s less dangerous… here we are now… entertain us!
Bob: Wow! What a groovy number you are singing, my fine fellow! May I ask you by what name it goes?
Jim: Oh, this little tune I just made up? I call it “Smells Like Teen Spirit’”. Do you like it?
Bob: Like it?! I adore it!

THAT would be plagiarism. Somehow, I doubt that is how anybody uses songs in their fiction, as the whole point of evoking a song is to draw on your audience’s collective memory of that tune… (Oh yeah… Nirvana… I remember listening to that song… and it made me feel like… blank…) What would be the point of pretending that the song exists only in the vacuum  of your fiction?

::sigh:: Imbeciles.

Well anyway. I’ve gotta find a new jar to jizz in, because I think the jar labeled ‘the music industry is a stinky barrel of severed money-grubbing penises’ is already chock full….

Goodnight, moofs. =)