[the sea of waking dreams]

McLachlan like a 'sister' to Neudorf, but he's still suing

By IAN BAILEY / The Canadian Press / November 18 1998

Vancouver - A musician suing Sarah McLachlan for recognition of his work on her first album looked fondly on the singer as a "sister," but confronted her about songwriting credits for the album.

Darryl Neudorf, 34, said Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court that he was angered when the superstar performer told a TV interviewer that she had written all the songs on the 1988 album Touch.

"It hurt my feelings," said Neudorf, who is claiming he is entitled to co-writer credit for four of the songs on the album, which sold more than 500,000 copies.

About a year after Touch was released, Neudorf raised the issue with McLachlan, then about 21, while the two were staying at the same place and preparing to work on her second album Solace.

"She cried and went to bed," he told Justice Bruce Cohen, who is hearing the case without a jury.

Although Neudorf has engineered legal action that has dragged McLachlan into court and raised questions about her creative skills, he said Tuesday that he was fond of the singer who has since sold millions of albums.

"I looked at Sarah as a sister," Neudorf testified, nodding to McLachlan who sat metres away and appeared to return his glance.

"She was close to me. It was exciting to watch her grow from the previous album."

Neudorf, 34, is suing McLachlan, 30, and her label, Nettwerk Productions, for cash and credit for his work on four of the songs on the 1988 debut album that set McLachlan on a path to becoming one of North America's most prominent female vocalists.

Neudorf, a Vancouver-based producer and a former drummer with the rock band 54-40, is claiming he so thoroughly reworked McLachlan's material that he is entitled to a production and co-writing credit.

The songs in question are Vox, Sad Clown, Steaming and Strange World. Neudorf also alleges he came up with the titles for Vox and Sad Clown.

Touch's cover notes credit McLachlan for solo writing of all but two cuts on the album. Work on the other two is shared between McLachlan and Darren Phillips, who has testified for Neudorf.

Neudorf is credited for helping co-ordinate pre-production work on the album, production assistance and "inspiration."

Neudorf said he was confused and disappointed when he first read the credits.

Under questioning from his lawyer, Jonathan Simkin, Neudorf explained why it has taken so long for him to take legal action against McLachlan.

He conceded that he probably could have raised the issue forcefully with McLachlan, but decided he should deal mainly with Terry McBride, now McLachlan's manager, and Mark Jowett, co-creator of Nettwerk.

Both men were in court Tuesday. Jowett sat beside McLachlan while McBride sat behind the pair. All three listened intently, taking notes.

Neudorf was living in Toronto in late 1987 when his old friend Jowett asked him to work on the album that would launch McLachlan's career.

Neudorf said that friendship made it difficult for him to vigorously question Jowett when he had concerns about his creative credits and royalties from Touch.

"I hated confrontation," said the soft-spoken Neudorf.

He said he cashed modest royalty cheques because he needed the money.

McLachlan's camp has suggested that Neudorf received $30,000 in royalties for his work on Touch.

But Neudorf's lawyer disputed that suggestion Tuesday, noting that Neudorf has received only about $2,000 in irregular payments beyond a salaried payment of about $4,000 for four months work on Touch.

Despite the bubbling dispute, Neudorf continued to work on Nettwerk projects. He helped out on McLachlan's second album and also worked with some of the label's other performers.

At one point, Jowett proposed a contract but Neudorf did not like the terms.

Neudorf said he initially agreed with a proposal to give up his claims to songwriting credit in return for royalties, but indicated he was not satisfied with the way Nettwerk followed through on the agreement.

If Neudorf wins, a subsequent trial would be held to deal with the question of exactly how much money he was owed. Also Tuesday, Cohen ruled against hearing the testimony of two witnesses prepared to talk about McLachlan's songwriting.

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