Thursday, August 7, 2008

Another Reason to Be a Fan

I was babysitting when I first heard Flowers On The Wall. It came on the radio after the children were all tucked in bed, and I laughed out loud. I was earning a big thirty-five cents an hour back then. The money's long gone, but the music is still with me. 

For over forty years, they've kept me singing. I haven't counted their albums, but I have twenty of them just on my iPod. Some are gospel, some country, many just plain fun. If you haven't heard Small Small World, or Put It On The Card, you have no idea.

Now you might not be a country music fan. There was a time when I wasn't either, except for the Statler Brothers and a select few others. To my husband, if it's not country, it's not music. I guess I wasn't such a music snob after all. My point here, and you probably hoped I would be making one, is that you should try to imagine needing to contact your favorite music superstar.

"Please, Mr. Singer Songwriter. I just wrote a novel... I took one of your songs, sir, and used one verse and the chorus in the book. Well, I didn't exactly use it the way you wrote it, but close enough that people are going to know it's yours. Well, I changed some of your lyrics to suit the purposes of the book. Is that okay with you? Sir?"

No matter how you word it, that's not an easy favor to ask. I was advised to just write the book and submit it for publication. 

"Let the lawyers handle all that crap. Your job is to write. You could just screw things up, and then you'll never get permission. Lawyers know how to handle these things."

That didn't sound like a game I wanted to play. 

How I did it doesn't really matter to you, but I made first contact ten days ago. Today the man emailed me, expressing concern about having anyone tamper with one of his songs. I couldn't blame him. He asked me some great questions, which I answered. I even sent him the part of the chapter that introduces the song, and the song with the changes I had made. 

I was prepared to rewrite the chapter, testing the limits of my talent to compose a new song myself. I knew I would grieve about it. No song I wrote would ever approach the simple perfection of his. 

I returned to the computer to make a start, just in case. His return email shocked me to tears. In a simple statement of few words, he thanked me for clearly answering his questions, and granted permission for me to use his song, as changed, in my book. He sent along the name of the publishing company holding the copyright to give to my publisher for final approval.

Another reason to be a fan. As if I needed another reason. 

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