The sometimes emotional court testimony of pop-star and Lilith Fair
founder Sarah McLachlan in a trial over her songwriting credits was
expected to wrap up Monday (Nov. 23), according to her manager, Terry
Her concluding statements would cap off more than seven hours on the
witness stand, including time spent last week performing briefly for
the court. The singer could be called on again for cross-examination later
this week. McLachlan accompanied herself on keyboard in the tiny
courtroom Thursday and Friday to demonstrate how particular songs
"They would listen to an old demo, and Sarah would explain where
the different parts of that demo ended up," McBride said Monday
from the Vancouver, British Columbia, offices of Nettwerk Productions,
McLachlan's Canadian label.
The 30-year-old singer/songwriter is being sued in the Supreme
Court of British Columbia by her former associate, Darryl Neudorf,
who claims he co-wrote the songs "Vox," "Steaming," "Strange World"
and "Sad Clown," from McLachlan's 1988 debut, Touch.
If his suit establishes co-authorship, Neudorf then can pursue
Neudorf's attorney, Jonathan Simkin, said Monday night that
shape to what had been in McLachlan's hands meandering,
"[Let's say] you and I decide we're going to sit down together
and try to write
some songs, and you have a few sketchy ideas here and there," Simkin
explained, "then I go, 'Why don't we take that idea there and work
with that,' and
then you and I toss some ideas around -- are we writing songs or aren't we?"
McLachlan's courtroom renditions of "Vox" and "Streaming" were
less actual performances than minute-long demonstrations, McBride
said. In both songs, he said that what began as the composition's
bridge sections eventually became their choruses.
"This is our way of showing that what the plaintiff did was
arranging, not creating," McBride said. "He wasn't writing things,
he was taking what had already been written [and placing it
Simkin countered that in addition to those arrangements, his client also
made original contributions to the songs.
In "Steaming," for instance, he
said Neudorf wrote the melody leading up to the chorus, and in court,
McLachlan admitted that she followed some of his suggestions. "He took a
pre-existing song and changed it drastically," Simkin said.
On "Vox," Simkin said Neudorf created the melodic hook and worked closely with
McLachlan on the track's rhythm.
On Friday, McLachlan testified for five hours, according to McBride.
She spent two-and-a-half hours on the witness stand the day before.
At one point, her testimony before the court and about 15 fans in
the public gallery turned tearful.
McBride said the singer cried openly in recounting how she wrote
"Ben's Song," also from Touch, in a single sitting after
learning that a young boy she had baby-sat on many occasions had
died from a brain tumor. That testimony came in response to an
assertion from the plaintiff that McLachlan could not compose an
entire song herself.
"She tried to explain how some songs come right away, within
hours," McBride said. "And some songs sit in her head and go
around and around because she's not happy with them, and as
such she won't record them until she is happy with them. She
wanted to show both processes."
Even on days when she was not called to testify, the singer --
known for her hit single
"Sweet Surrender" (RealAudio excerpt)
as well as her efforts at organizing the popular, woman-focused
Lilith Fair -- has been present for the trial, which began Nov. 2.
McBride has said that Neudorf had been paid for his contributions
to Touch. He added that McLachlan never has hesitated to share
credit where appropriate, and he said all of her four albums
feature shared songwriting credits.
Since releasing Fumbling Toward Ecstasy four years ago,
McLachlan has become one of the most popular female artists in
the world. Her most recent album, Surfacing (1997) -- which
included the hits "Building A Mystery" and "Sweet Surrender" --
has sold more 5 million copies worldwide (3.8 million in the United
States), according to McBride.
Touch has moved 600,000 units worldwide.
In 1997, McLachlan founded the summer-tour revue, the Lilith Fair.
The tour, which in 1998 featured sets by McLachlan, indie-rocker
Liz Phair and hip-hop star Missy Elliott, has been the
highest-grossing summer rock-festival for two years running.
The outcome of the suit aside, McLachlan is looking forward to
putting the case -- which has taken several years to reach the
Supreme Court -- behind her, McBride said.
"She's happy that no matter what happens, there will be a
sense of closure," he explained.
The trial is expected to last at least a week longer.