Sarah McLachlan Wrapping Testimony In Songwriting Suit

Manager says Lilith Fair founder played portions of songs to demonstrate creative process and got emotional on the stand.

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

McBride.

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

were crafted.

"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

monetary compensation.

Neudorf's attorney, Jonathan Simkin, said Monday night that

Neudorf gave

shape to what had been in McLachlan's hands meandering,

unstructured lines.

"[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

somewhere else]."

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.