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Tell Your Own Story

In a Lifetime by Johnny Lappin

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Article by Johnny Lappin ©.
Posted in the Magazine (Tell Your Own Story: , ).
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Who was it that coined the phrase that writing was 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration? They got that about right.

Having spent most of my working life in the music industry as a Music Publisher, I have been watching musicians and songwriters perfecting their creative art. As a professional Music Publisher, my job was to help them make money from their talents and I was aware of just how difficult that process could actually be.

Obviously, as a professional publisher I have an extensive knowledge of the workings of copyright and that, coupled with great songs I represented, from the talented songwriters such as Hozier, had been the essence of my work for over forty years.

I never had any desire or intention to become a writer. My book, In a Lifetime from Hozier to U2 was born organically from conversations with my family and friends as I relayed the experiences, funny incidents and some of the characters I had encountered over the years spent working in the Rock’n’Roll business.

Having been present at the birth of many songs, I was aware of the basics. Any story, or song, needs a beginning, middle and end. Very often the title of the piece can come at the end of that process. Creating something from nothing is a very hard process as any writer will attest. You constantly second-guess and doubt yourself.  Many writers will be all too familiar with the feeling of staring at a blank page looking for inspiration. However, and despite my lack of knowledge, I decided to take on the challenge of writing a book. After all, I reasoned to myself, it can’t be that difficult especially when the subject matter is your own life.

The very first thing I discovered was that you just can’t write to order. You have to be in the mood to create. The term ‘writers block’ will be familiar to all book and songwriters. Indeed, in my career as a music publisher part of the job (a big part!) would be listening to songs or ‘demos’ from aspiring new songwriters. I would probably be sent anywhere between fifteen or twenty ‘new’ songs every week. My job was to listen and filter out any new works that I considered had any commercial potential. I discovered very early on that listening to new works was a very subjective process, so my modus operando would be to wait until I felt in the mood to listen to music, take about fifty demos at a time, and give them my full attention.

So, as I approached the process of writing my book, I was acutely aware of the need to grab the reader’s attention early as indeed is the case for songwriters who want the listener to remember and buy, or in these digital days, stream their song. So, as my work was largely autobiographical, I was faced with the dilemma of getting early attention, keeping my story in chronological order and holding the readers interest to the end of the book. After all everybody has a life and why should anybody be interested in mine? I’m not a famous or well know person.

I approached this initially by setting out the chapter headings and making a bullet point list of items for each chapter that I thought might entertain the reader. The purpose of the book, I told myself, was to amuse and educate. That is, to amuse the reader with my stories and to educate young and up and coming musicians in the workings of the music business. I also wanted to chronicle the early days of the ‘rock’ industry in Ireland.

I led off with the beginning of the Hozier story. He had had an enormous hit song “Take Me to Church” in 2013. This chapter entitled ‘The Hozier High’ tells the story of how this song ‘broke’ and launched his career and my part in this. In each of the subsequent chapters I chronicled different parts of my life (so far!) trying at all times to keep it short, sweet and interesting. That’s quite a trick in itself, to edit your own life down to the entertaining parts. Subsequent chapters dealt with various subjects such as running a small independent record label, explaining the nuts and bolts of music publishing, working with the worlds renowned Irish folk band Clannad who had come to prominence with the “Theme From Harry’s game” in the early 1980’s. This chapter also gave me the title for the book. “In a Lifetime” was a hit song for Clannad which features Bono from U2. Other chapters include the birth of Celtic Woman, a group who have been hugely successful in America and beyond.

Being a (music) publisher, I decided to take my own advice and “retain the copyright” in my own work. I have published the book myself and it is available on Amazon via the link below.

Although I enjoyed the process of writing my book, it made me realise just how difficult it is to actually write a book in the first place and I have a new found admiration for creators, be they successful or otherwise.

(c) Johnny Lappin

About In a Lifetime:

Johnny Lappin is one of the exceptionally genuine characters in an international music industry often dominated by charlatans and posers. His lifetime in the business has paralleled the extraordinary rise of the music industry of his native Ireland, as it grew from modest beginnings to become one of the major talent resources for the worldwide entertainment scene. Along the way, Lappin has been a singer, drummer, band manager, record company owner, talent scout, concert promoter, lecturer, consultant, a member of “the music police” and, his first and last love, music publisher.In this book he applies his quick Irish wit and characteristic candour to tracing a turbulent career that has seen him cross paths with a galaxy of major stars, including U2, Hozier, Clannad, Celtic Woman, Van Morrison, Elton John, Ron Wood, Phil Lynott, Ian Drury, Rory Gallagher, Bob Geldof, Chrissie Hynde and many more.In a Lifetime-From Hozier to U2, is a warts and all, and then some more warts, account of life in the 24/7 world of music.

Order your copy online here.

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Johnny Lappin is one of the exceptionally genuine characters in an international music industry often dominated by charlatans and posers. He has enjoyed a turbulent career that has seen him cross paths with a galaxy of major stars, including U2, Hozier, Clannad, Celtic Woman, Van Morrison, Elton John, Ron Wood, Phil Lynott, Ian Drury, Rory Gallagher, Bob Geldof, Chrissie Hynde and many more.