When I released my first album in 2013, I knew very little about the world of songwriting. I wanted to do a cover of God Only Knows – originally written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher and released by The Beach Boys in 1966.
I asked IMRO (Irish Music Rights Organisation) for advice, as I thought I had to ask the owners of the song for permission before I could cover the song. Not so said the helpful man in IMRO, you simply have to pay a royalty fee, dependent on how many albums you thought you were going to sell.
And that’s the thing – once you write and release a song, you relinquish some ownership. You still own the rights to it, but it becomes part of the huge catalogue of music out there in the world, open to anyone else to interpret, imitate, praise or criticise. It’s the deal.
I have often wondered what the original writers of some of the music I play would make of what I/we are doing with it. Only a few weeks ago I wrote a blog about playing my arrangement of someone else’s music while he was standing a matter of metres away.
And last night, the shoe was on the other foot. Kate Winter and I wrote a song in 2015 which we entitled Meadhbh’s Call. I don’t play it much on gigs any more and I had largely forgotten about it until it appeared on the set for a gig last night.
My friend and colleague – Dave Flynn – had arranged it in 4-part harmony for the Sligo County Council Heart’s Desire Choir and they were on the bill for the Sligo Sings concert which I wrote about earlier this week.
I happened to really like what they did with it, but even if I didn’t, it would still have made me happy to know that the song was being kept alive.
So thanks to Dave and the gang…long may you sing it!