McLachlan 'took all the credit' for songs
The Vancouver Sun / November 18, 1998
Neal Hall, Sun Court Reporter Vancouver Sun Sarah McLachlan cried when Darryl Neudorf complained to the budding star that his feelings were hurt after she took sole credit for writing the songs on her 1988 debut album Touch, a Vancouver trial heard Tuesday.
Neudorf, 34, is suing McLachlan and her Vancouver record company, Nettwerk, for copyright infringement and breach of contract. He recalled he heard McLachlan saying on television, while being interviewed by MuchMusic, that she wrote all the songs.
"She took all the credit for herself," Neudorf recalled. "My feelings were hurt."
He said he was staying with McLachlan shortly after Touch was released and raised the matter with her. "She cried and went to bed," he added.
Neudorf is seeking royalties for four songs on Touch that he claims he co-wrote with McLachlan between Jan. 17 and March 31, 1998..
He said he was hired by Mark Jowett of Nettwerk to help McLachlan write songs after she moved to Vancouver from Halifax after signing a five-record deal in October 1987. At the time, McLachlan was only 19 and had never written a complete song before.
"I was in a situation with an artist who had trouble writing and completing songs," recalled
Neudorf, a former drummer with the Vancouver bands 54-40 and Moev, worked with McLachlan to develop the songs even after she entered the recording studio on March 4, 1988, he noted.
"We had to come up with new material and have it ready to be recorded in the studio," he told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen, who is hearing the civil case without a jury.
During cross-examination, lawyer Jennifer Conkie, who is representing McLachlan and the other defendants, suggested Neudorf was hired as a "babysitter" to help McLachlan get up in the morning and get working in the practice room at the back of Nettwerk.
Neudorf disagreed but admitted he was a "disciplining force" in her life at the time. "Sarah was young, in a new city and her main priority was to have fun," he added.
Conkie suggested Jowett told Neudorf he expected McLachlan to write some amazing songs.
"I don't recall that," Neudorf testified. "He [Jowett] probably had a strong idea in his mind that she was going to grow and blossom into something more than she already was."
McLachlan at that time had classical music training and showed great proficiency in her guitar and piano playing, but she didn't have a clear understanding of what made a good pop song and had trouble creating new musical ideas, he said.
He recalled McLachlan asking what the difference was between a chorus and a verse.
She also wanted to know what a "groove" was and Neudorf said he demonstrated. "She started groovin' that day," he added.
Neudorf said he had recording experience because he helped produce the first two 54-40 records before quitting the band. He now is a record producer with his own Vancouver recording studio.
He said he was paid $3,385 for his work on Touch, which has sold 625,000 copies, and given a one- per-cent royalty on the retail price of each record for his production work -- worth about $30,000. He claims he was told he would get more in exchange for not getting co-credit for songwriting.
The liner notes of Touch credit McLachlan for writing all but two cuts on the album. Credit on the other two is shared between McLachlan and Darren Phillips, a former keyboard player in McLachlan's band and a friend of Neudorf.
Neudorf is credited on Touch for production assistance and "inspiration." He also did pre-production work on McLachlan's next album, Solace.
If Neudorf wins his case, the second part of the trial will determine how much money he should get in damages.
McLachlan, 30, who attends court daily and sat at a table a few metres from Neudorf during his testimony, is expected to play guitar and possibly sing when she takes the witness stand later this week or early next week.
Early versions of songs used on Touch have been played in court. Deputy sheriffs have seized two tape recorders from fans who apparently wanted a musical souvenir.