“Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks!”

Via Joel Lindsey, a story that makes you think twice about just how much of a songwriter your favorite singer/songwriter really is. Money quote:

“How can someone look in the mirror and know they didn’t do something and their name is on it? For money? For credit? It’s a lie.”

This being the music industry, money is of course a factor, since the writers of hit songs can earn more than the singer over the long term. But today’s singers also press for writing credit because it gives them more of a cachet, presenting them as more of a “real artist” in comparison with a star who doesn’t write a note.


Shropshire says that many artists will only allow songwriters to work on an album in return for song credit, and “if they do write, they ask for more publishing than they honestly contributed … it is the way it is.”

As with so many other music-industry trends, the King helped this one along too.

The practice has been prevalent for decades. Elvis Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, maneuvered to give the King songwriting credits on early hits like “Love Me Tender” even though he never wrote a word. James Brown was sued by an associate over song credits. Lauryn Hill settled a lawsuit by a group that claimed she improperly took sole production and writing credit on her Grammy-winning album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” And Diddy seemed to acknowledge claims that he wasn’t really writing his raps in the “Bad Boys for Life” song with the brushoff line: “Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks!”

The whole thing is here.

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  1. www.southerngospelblog.com » Blog Archive » An unlikely Rumor refuted: George Younce and “Yesterday” on 26 Jul 2007 at 9:57 am

    […] The other day, a pseudonymous commenter on Averyfineline said this: And I am sure that some of the singers who have already passed away got credit for songs they did not write. I understand that sometimes they just bought the rights to the songs - such as George Yonce and “Yesterday.” […]


  1. Bucik wrote:

    I had long suspected this. And I am sure that some of the singers who have already passed away got credit for songs they did not write. I understand that sometimes they just bought the rights to the songs - such as George Yonce and “Yesterday”. What burns is when, in addition to that duplicity, they tell tearful stories about how God gave them the song during a time of crisis. It’s a crock!

  2. Fawn wrote:

    I love hearing Dolly Parton talk about how Elvis was going to cut “I Will Always Love You” if she gave him publishing/credit. She said she just couldn’t do it and cried herself to sleep. On behalf of Dolly with all the hindsight we have now on this song, I say, “Whew.”

  3. QN wrote:

    Please go to www.southerngospelblog.com and site the specific evidence you have for your claim about “Yesterday”. I’m sure that many of us die-hard George fans over there think this is a bunch of balogna.
    Again, please give your proof.

  4. Daniel J. Mount wrote:


    Avery doesn’t comment at other blogs. If he posted a comment on my blog, it would be such a momentous event in Southern Gospel that even Singing News would post an article on it on their main page……………………..well, I exaggerate. :P

  5. Bucik wrote:

    Hey, don’t get me wrong. I loved George, too. Great voice and winsome personality. But over time we learned that lots of the stories he told from the stage were not true. Some were jokes told as if true. Some were old sermon illustrations told as if they had happened to him. Once credibility is compromised, it is hard to regain. The talent and personality were undiminished. But the believability suffered.

  6. QN wrote:

    Did you misunderstand me? I was writing to Buick. Or is Avery using an AKA?

    Are you specifically saying that George was one of those people that “tell tearfull stories about how God gave them the song” ? I reread your 1st comment, and am not sure how you meant it.

    On a similliar note, I recall a story that George told on a live recording they did in 1974 about Haskel Cooley. According to George, Haskel was in the Pacific during WWII. He was the only one left in his regiment shooting. He realized that there was only one Japaneese solider firing back at him. So, Haskel yelled to him to stop shooting so they could take a break and eat their rations.They sat together on a log and started talking. The Japaneese solider said that he was from Yakohoma (George pronounced it in such a way to make it sound like Oklahoma) Haskel supposedly said “What are we fighting for? I’m from Tulsa.”
    I’ve played that CD remaster of the record hundreds of times, yet still get a laugh out of it!
    I’ve heard someone say to me that they co-wrote “From The Depths Of My Heart” with Sonya Isaacs. I checked the 3 recordings that I have the song on: all of their credits say Ben and Sonya Isaacs. No third person. I went to BMI and similliar sites and found the same thing.

  7. Bucik wrote:

    Believe it or not (and I doubt that anyone will believe it), I am thankful to get the straight dope on “Yesterday”. I was not asserting that George did not write it. I was questioning that story. QN’s recounting of the tale about Haskel Cooley illustrates the problem. Was that story true? All of it? It was funny, sure. But was it true?

    The question arises because so many of George’s stories were just stories, illustrations, jokes and parables. They were fictions used to shed light on a truth. The problem with that is that when a fiction, used to illustrate a truth, is told as if the fiction were true, credibility suffers.

    I’ve often heard preachers tell stories from the biography of someone like James S. Stewart, Dwight L. Moody or some other published preacher, and try to pass it off as if it happened to them (or their brother-in-law, cousin or someone else they know personally). These same people try to pass off someone else’s sermon as their own (I believe that is plagiarism). When you realize the preacher hasn’t told the truth about one part of a sermon, it makes you wonder about the other parts.

    So it is for me with the SG singers that introduce songs with stories that turn out not to be true. It has often made me wonder if they really wrote the songs they claimed to have written. And that is all I was saying: over the years it has made me wonder.

    (As Jim Croce said, “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape…and you don’t mess around with Jim” (or George!)

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