[the sea of waking dreams]

Neudorf: 'I guided songwriting process'

The Province - November 17, 1998

Jack Keating, Staff Reporter The Province

Sarah McLachlan's talent as a teenage songwriter needed to be nurtured in order for her to be commercially viable, says the musician suing her for songwriting credit on four songs on her debut album Touch.

"In a big way, I guided the songwriting process along. There was a core talent there that was begging to be tapped,"  Darryl Neudorf told Justice Bruce Cohen, who is hearing the civil suit in B.C. Supreme Court against the superstar singer and her Vancouver-based record company Nettwerk Productions.

Neudorf, a 34-year-old Vancouver producer and former drummer with the band 54-40, testified yesterday that Nettwerk co-founder Mark Jowett urged that several of the songs be more commercial and "radio friendly."

"That's where I had to step in," Neudorf said, who is suing for copyright infringement and a share of royalties for song-writing credit on Steaming, Vox, Sad Clown and Strange World.

"I composed the verse melody for Steaming all by myself," Neudorf testified. "It was from scratch." He also told the court he created the song titles for Vox and Sad Clown.

He said he was needed because Jowett wanted a more commercial album, but the then 19-year-old McLachlan was resisting because she was fearful of "sacrificing her artistic integrity."

She could not in several cases bring the songs to completion, said Neudorf. "I was to be a bit of a guide, a teacher in helping Sarah to complete songs," he said.

Neudorf said that after talking with Jowett, he understood he would be compensated.

"I recall him saying that he understood that what I was doing for Sarah constituted songwriting," said Neudorf.

"He said that it was Nettwerk's intention and interest to approach the marketing of Sarah and that she was to be a bit of a prodigy.

"And I remember he used the word 'prodigy.' "

Credits on the Touch CD, which has gone on to sell more than 600,000 copies, don't acknowledge Neudorf for any songwriting.

The cover notes thank him for "inspiration" and he is credited for "pre-production co-ordination and production assistance."

McLachlan's lawyer, Jennifer Conkie, said outside court that she expects to cross-examine Neudorf for a "long time" once his testimony ends this morning.

Meanwhile, Justice Cohen has released his written reasons for ruling last week that 14 pages of musicologist Gerald Eskelin's "expert" report on Neudorf's behalf were not admissible.

"In my opinion, the second section of the report . . . is so rife with examples of Dr. Eskelin usurping the role of trier of fact, or giving argument in the guise of opinion that the entire section must be found to be irrelevant, partisan and therefore inadmissible," wrote Cohen.

He wrote that the report "offends the well-established law relating to the admissibility of opinion evidence . . . Dr.  Eskelin has taken on the role of a partisan advocate."

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