John F. Nargi is a graduate of UMass, Amherst and lives in Winthrop, MA, with his wife and three children.
If I Fell
Friends, Family, Lost Love, and Music
by John F. Nargi
If I Fell
Friends, Family, Lost Love, and Music
by John F. Nargi
Published Jan 15, 2020
Genre: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General
A Humorous look at life, love, and how music defines you
Meet John, a short (5’6”), skinny, boyish-faced, shy and insecure, 18 year-old. In 1986, following the completion of his freshman year at UMass, Amherst, John returns to his demanding summer job, working in a restaurant called “Crabapples”. It is here that he meets the girl of his dreams. At first sight, he realizes he’s going to marry her. Now all he has to do is overcome his immense fear of speaking to anyone he doesn’t know and, oh yeah, break up with his girlfriend of two years. With the advice from friends and family, solicited or not, John begins the most tumultuous summer of his life, all set to the soundtrack in his head.
I started writing this story in the fall of 1986 for an English class I took in my sophomore year in college. In the summer of 2015, while cleaning my basement, I stumbled upon it and thought it would be a nice “vehicle” to tell my story. How music shaped my life (I have a continuous soundtrack playing in my head); how bands’ songs spoke for me, since I was an extremely shy teenager, and how one band, and two friends, turned me from a life on the “sidelines” to a life on the “playing field.” When I first picked up the story again, I thought it would be a great idea to add the lyrics of the songs that were either A., popular at the time i was writing about, or, B., had an effect on me (either lyrically, musically, or both). I wrote the entire story, edited it (12 times!), and finally, had it professionally edited. It was ready to go to print when my publisher asked me for the permission letters, or emails, from the various artists that I had included. I was, for a moment, dumbfounded. I had given each artist, each writer, and each record label, credit for the song (first page after this dissertation). Going back and forth by email, I argued that I was only using the lyrics, not the actual song, so it shouldn’t be an issue. Boy, how wrong I was! I “Duck, Duck, Go’d” the issue and came across an article, going over in detail, the copyright laws pertaining to song lyrics. it’s amazing. I can be sued by using, without permission, even 8 words of a song in my manuscript. So, with my new found knowledge, I set out to get the permission. I started by reaching out to the bands’ management teams, asking for permission or, at the very least, the correct person to contact. It took a little over a week before the responses started trickling in. One of the first I received was from The Alarm. They wrote me and thanked me for using their songs, and stated that they “were honoured” (their spelling) and offered me good luck on the project. Wow, I thought, this is awesome. I figured I’d have this done within a few days and then we could move forward with publishing. Again, WOW! How wrong I was. I received an email from Steve Winwoods’ management (I know, Steve who? Right??) stating that I had to contact the publishing firm of Hal Leonard. Ok, I can do that. I contacted them and they sent me back a link to their website to fill out the request in writing. I got to the site, found the appropriate page, and started filling it out. I finished and was just about to hit “send” when I read, at the bottom of the request form, in Italics: All requests to use lyrics will be charged $300.00 if permission is granted. 300 DOLLARS??? You’ve got to be shitting me. For a fucking STEVE WINWOOD song that absolutely NO ONE 30 years old, or younger, knows about, and no one older remembers! What a racket! Okay, I decided I could remove his lyrics and explain that the song was popular at the time, and so on. Then I got an email from the Beatles publisher, BMG, and the woman (who was an awesome help to me in getting me the names of the various publishing houses for songs BMG didn’t represent) had me fill out a request for the songs her company did. I filled them all out and sent them back, only to get an email stating that I would be charged 100 Euros (plus VAT (tax) for each request. Well, since they represent 5 bands on my list, covering 9 songs, I had to decline. My heart sank. I wrote back to her explaining how I was just using lyrics I found online, and that I was, absolutely, only PROMOTING the artists and their songs, and that no one was going to purchase my book in order to see lyrics to a Beatles’ song that they could look up, for free, on numerous websites. Although she understood, she explained that she didn’t have a say in the matter, and that every request is given the same answer. Well, needless to say, that changed everything for me. I had to delete the lyrics of every song from the manuscript, save the ones written by The Alarm. So, I’d like to thank Mike Peters, Dave Sharp, Norm Macdonald, Nigel Twist, and Leanne, from Twenty First Century Records, for being the ONLY ones with common, fucking, sense – which is another theme of the story. I love music, and will continue to, but I will add this: i have no use for the industry at all. I am thankful i can’t sing or play an instrument - I don’t have to ever deal with any of those greedy assholes ever again. I promise, in my next book I won’t use ONE FUCKING SONG LYRIC! One good thing did come of all this, and that was conversing with Peter Jesperson, former manager of the Replacements, the band that changed my life. The following are the emails we sent to each other:
I can’t believe I’m actually writing to you…anyway, I am writing a book about how music affected my life, and the Replacements were a huge influence on me. I want to use Color me Impressed and Favorite thing. In the book, I write about how songs influenced me and then I follow with the lyrics. I give credit to the band, the writer(s), and the record label.
Please let me know if I can use the lyrics mentioned above. Also, since you’re an executive of a label, can you help point me in the right direction to get in touch with other labels? Most of their websites do not contain an email address to contact them.
Thank you for reading this,
Thanks for writing. Glad to hear The Replacements are a favorite of yours!
Your request is actually a publishing issue. Paul’s songs (& the band cowrites) are all handled by BMG Publishing these days. I’m checking to see who you need to talk to there. Stay tuned.
As for getting in touch with other labels, again, if you’re strictly looking for permission to use lyrics, you should look up the songs on the respective PRO sites (Performing Rights Organizations). The lion’s share of songs are handled by ASCAP or BMI. Some by SESAC or, for Canada - SOCAN. Their sites are easily accessed and are fairly self-explanatory.
I will be in touch.
Thank you for getting back to me. I have all the info I need, as I have done a lot of research in the past few days. I will contact BMG regarding the Replacements songs. And, since I may never correspond with you again, thanks for getting the ‘mats started! They are, by far, the most influential band in my life, and, by far, my favorite. I don’t know if anyone has ever said this before, but you’re the American “Brian Epstein” LOL.
OK, we’ll “call off the dogs” then.
You’re most welcome re: the Replacements. They had a very large impact on me too! The Epstein comment is most appreciated, made me laugh, thank you!
And continued best of luck with the book
In order, as they are mentioned, (WITHOUT LYRICS except #’s 1, 2, and 15):
1. 68 guns – The Alarm (Macdonald / Peters) Illegal songs, inc. 1983
2. We are the light - The Alarm (Macdonald / Peters) illegal songs, inc. 1983
3. Waitress in the Sky – The Replacements (P. Westerberg) Sire Records 1985 4. Norwegian Wood – Beatles (Lennon / McCartney) Capitol Records 1965
5. Pretty in Pink – Psychedelic Furs (R. Butler, J. Ashton, R. Morris, T. Butler, D. Kilburn, V. Ely) Colombia Records 1981
6. Favorite Thing - The Replacements; (P. Westerberg, T. Stinson, B. Stinson, C. Mars) Twin\Tone Records 1984
7. Color Me Impressed – The Replacements (P. Westerberg) Twin\Tone Records 1983
8. Holy Grail – Monty Python - EMI Pictures; Python (Monty) Pictures 1975
9. 5:11 AM – Roger Waters (R. Waters) Colombia Records 1984
10. 4:41 AM – Roger Waters (R. Waters) Colombia Records 1984
11. Down By The Seaside – Led Zeppelin (Page / Plant) Atlantic Records 1975 12. Two of Us – Beatles (Lennon / McCartney) Apple Corp. 1970
13. You Shook Me – AC/DC (A. Young, M. Young, B. Johnson) Atlantic Records 1980
14. Fall on Me – R.E.M. (B. Berry, P. Buck, M. Mills, M. Stipe) i.R.S. Records 1986
15. Absolute Reality – The Alarm (Macdonald / Peters) i.R.S. Records 1985
16. Lay Lady Lay – Bob Dylan (B. Dylan) Colombia Records 1976
17. Heaven – Bryon Adams (Adams / Vallance) A & M Records 1984
18. Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me – Warren Zevon (W. Zevon) Asylum Records 1976 19. Follow You, Follow Me – Genesis (Rutherford, Banks, Collins) Charisma Records 1978
20. Don’t want to know if you are lonely – Husker Du (Hart) Warner Bros. Records 1986
21. I am, I said – Neil Diamond (N. Diamond) UNI Records 1971
22. If I fell – Beatles (Lennon / McCartney) Capitol Records 1964
23. Hotel California – Eagles (Felder, Henley, Frey) Asylum Records 1977
24. Higher Love – Steve Winwood (Winwood / Jennings) island Records 1986 25. I Don’t Like Mondays – Boomtown Rats (B. Geldof) Colombia Records 1979
26. Emotional Rescue – Rolling Stones (Jagger / Richards) Rolling Stones Records 1980
By the way, if you want to look up the lyrics yourself, you can go to any of the websites listed below, for free:
Oh, sorry, the last one is for Lyrica, the drug – don’t go there looking for song lyrics!