One of the nuggets of information I learned at my editing workshop weekend with author Catherine Ryan Hyde was regarding using pieces of songs in your fiction. I particularly wanted to hear about this topic because my novel, which I'm currently in revision on, features a character who finds herself in an unusual and strange situation. Therefore, the Talking Heads song Once in a Lifetime seemed very appropriate to quote. Especially in a scene where she gets a new car -- the line about large automobiles fit very well. But it turns out that quoting songs is somewhat treacherous.
Someone asked Catherine, "How should I punctuate songs?"
The answer was, "Don't."
As in, Don't use songs. Period.
Unless songs are under public domain, you will have to pay for the right to use the song -- even if it's just a line. And guess what: your publisher isn't going to foot that bill. You are. And it could be hundreds of dollars.
Now, this is maybe a little stodgy on the part of artists. You would think they would be delighted to have an author quote their song in their book, which a) helps market the author and artist and b) helps keep the song in the public consciousness. But I also understand that this is artistic property, and it should be paid for.
So I dutifully -- but not happily -- removed all referenced to the Talking Heads song from my novel.
What do you think about this? Do you use song lines in your stories? Which ones?