Category Image Metallica permissions 

I don't know if I can afford this... 

I received a formal letter from Metallica licensing people a couple of days ago. They granted me permission to use everything I had requested, from lyric excerpts, to musical transcriptions, to video stills. That was certainly a relief, but guess how much they wanted?


That's right. Nothing. Free. Not even a complimentary copy of the book. And I have no idea why they don't want in on the massive musicological action that will be my book. I mean, it's gonna sell huge, bro! Seriously, I think their gesture is somewhere between "respect" and "not caring." A couple of people have suggested that they might just have been flattered by the fact of someone writing such a book about them, and so wanted to help in whatever small way they could. I'm not sure about that, since they never struck me as being too concerned about a legacy and it's not like they haven't been "honored" with documentaries and other books before. In a sense, I'm a late-comer to whatever flattery party is being thrown. Not that I'm part of a flattery party per se, but I wouldn't expect them to really care about the difference. On some level their participation in or ascent to the flattery party is a business decision. My book is certainly also something of a business practice, in the sense of it interacting in commercial culture. And so, I would have expected to pony up something for the right to at least reprint some lyrics. Perhaps, though, there was indeed a component of respect involved, and they were willing to let things go for a scholarly purpose. Whether it's good scholarship or bad fanboy writing disguised as scholarship will be decided by the, readers.

In the end, it is a huge relief and I will say that, for all the theorizing above, no gift horses will have their mouths looked into. The book has now moved into production while I secure the last two bits of permissions (Hendrix and Venom). 

Posted: Friday - September 23, 2005 at 10:10 AM