Friday, 17 December 2010

I love the PRS cheques that you bring

Those who know and love me, know my fondness for a Beautiful South song. Those who are forced to share my singing-in-the-car routines know my very particular fondness for a specific line in Song for Whoever - 'I love the PRS cheques that you bring' - I sing it loudly, with a certain 'yes I know what a PRS cheque is'  conceit and a smug-and-somewhat-self-satisfied smile.

Let me take you on a journey back in time. It was 1997, and I'd had a tough year. My Dad had died, I was struggling to work out how to live post-divorce, with four kids and no job. I was part-way through a teacher-training degree which seemed more and more distant from my idea of what teaching should be, when my very best friend Francesca Ferrari (yes that is her real name and worthy of another blog post all of its own) suggested that we nick off college for a week and take a holiday to Gran Canaria.

I'm easily led. It seemed a sensible option to spend my student loan on a child-free week in the sun. So we hatched our plot, packed our bags and set off. On the very first evening, just before retiring to our hotel beds, we happened across a couple of polite young gentlemen with strangely-accented English. And there it all began.

For the next few years I conducted a long-distance liaison with an Austrian music producer. Time was spent between London and Vienna. I didn't get to see the usual tourist attractions, Schonbrunn Palace, the coffee houses, the art galleries, but I did become quite familiar with a basement studio, with its blue-plastic-lined ceiling and bewildering range of mixing desks.

Though it might be somewhat difficult to appreciate the difference, Austrian Euro-pop in those days was trying hard to maintain a distinction from German Euro-pop. To do that it really needed English lyrics - and that was where I came in. Words and music were exchanged across the miles, until eventually there was a whole album full of songs.

Of course, I'd made no efforts to protect my interests (they were largely of a personal nature) so there were no formal contracts, but my Austrian musician had suggested that I join the Performing Rights Society, just in case the album sold. And to my amazement, it did. It even found its way into the Austrian charts, and for the next few years a small sum made its way into my bank account each year in recognition of our efforts.

After a while the distance between London and Vienna proved too much and the Anglo-Austrian relationship foundered. I grew ever-so-slightly ashamed of my links to the under-valued genre of Euro-pop, and my time as a published lyricist came to an end.

It's been a long time since I had anything to do with UniqueII, they don't exist any more as a production team and my days in Austria are a fond but faded memory. Imagine then, my surprise and delight when I checked my bank statement earlier today to find the sum of £2.76 credited to my account from PRS. It's certainly not the early retirement sum I might have wished for, but I can't help but be pleased that, somewhere in the world, my words are still being listened to every now and then. 


And I hope that whoever is still listening is having a lovely time, maybe even dancing.





13 comments:

Baglady said...

I love the number of Longworths on the back of the CD. Brilliant.

Did you ever get to see any of the "nice" bits of Austria?

Penny Dreadful said...

Do you still find it a thrill seeing your name on the cover there? I would. And unexpected money is always exciting, especially when it is a blast from the past.

caterpillar said...

Wow...it's quite a nice feeling to know that there are people out there who'd be listening to or reading your words...didn't know you were a lyricist too....

Jayne said...

Bravo!

Lipstick and Latex... said...

Congratulations!
xoxo...

Shopgirl said...

Neat. I couldn't help wanting to search for the songs, maybe even getting the mp3s if they turn up. I like your short sentences:

"I am easily lead".

So much there.

arandomchild said...

Even if it had been the early retirement sum you might have wished for, I'm sure the memories it brought back are far more valuable.

And like Shopgirl, I'm going to be trying to hunt down some of these songs. The only Austrian Euro-pop I'm familiar with is the great, late Falco (who is sadly underappreciated in my country).

Jeannie said...

I loved this piece, not only for what you've done as a lyricist but the way you've written it.

I feel it's true about bloggers being the 21st-century cafe society--especially when they take it to the next level and actually meet in cafes! Some bring their computers and have "write-ins."

One last compliment: When your blog opened up, it looked so fresh--the colors and photo are inviting and gorgeous!

Starlight said...

I really like the way you've written this post. I'm sure it's more valuable to you that you participated at this project that the money you're getting.

Caroline said...

Who'd have thought it? My sister the lyricist! Well done Sharon, at least one of us is famous, if only in Austria! xx

Happy Frog and I said...

I love lyrics so to find out this about your past has made me very happy indeed. Who knows, they might make a come back!

Pat said...

You clever girl. Would it be impossible to post it?
When I read four children, divorce and college I think I've spent my life wrapped in cotton wool.

RJS Winchester said...

http://www.amazon.de/Forever-The-Album/dp/B002T47VZM/ref=mb_oe_o