ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Using Song Lyrics to Set the Scene in a Story

Updated on March 23, 2013

Sometimes I use song lyrics to help write a scene in a short story or screenplay. My copyright lawyer says that a writer cannot use more than seven words of a published song in a story. However, some old songs with copyright expiration may be used. I am not a lawyer, so I don’t know exactly what the rules are. Let’s say I want to use a ZZ Top song, Looking for Some Tush, in a screenplay. I can write a scene and say, “The music playing in the background sounds like ZZ Top.” The following is an example of a song, setting a scene.

Un-named Short Story
I enter the elevator and press the button. The door closes. As the lift rises, music begins to play softly in the background. The sound is Texas Rockabilly, ZZ Top. In the seven years I’ve been in this place I never had a meeting above the 4th level. I am going uptown and exit the elevator at the 99th floor.

The top level is very bright and clean. The sunlight bothers my eyes. It is drab and dusty at the lower levels. With trepidation, I walk toward the large doors at the end of the hallway and question, “Why have I been summoned by management?”
As I am about to knock on the greenish, blue door, it opens and I pass through.

At a large table in the center of the meeting hall, four of them are sitting in comfortable chairs. Sunlight dashes through the shades. I stop and stand uncomfortably in the middle of the room. My supervisor is on my right side of the table. Interior to him is the vice-president. On the left side is the president of the firm and next to him in the center sits the Chairman of the Board. This is the first time I face the Chairman. I was not sure the guy even existed. Now I know he really is in charge of everything.

The president opens up a book and speaks, “You’ve been with us now for seven years. You are punctual, follow orders and have made significant progress. The supervisor and vice-president in charge of your sector have recommended you for this position. You will replace someone who is unable to continue his commitment.

The shades close. A screen drops. The video displays a man early forties, my height and build. He appears to be very fit and in the prime of life. He walks quickly across a street. Suddenly he is hit by a yellow taxi cab. After a sequence of scenes, the young man is spread out on an operating table in a hospital amphitheatre.
The president says, “You will become this man. However, you will retain your own mind.”
The Chairman speaks, “You can option out.”
But I have no choice in the matter. “I will take the assignment sir,” I answer.

In the fraction of a second that I accept the assignment, I awaken in a critical care recovery room. The doctors are removing tubes from my nose and throat. I am a living body. Everything hurts and my throat is very dry. I can sense the physicians are thrilled with the patient’s miraculous recovery from head trauma. My body is banged up but there are no broken bones. When the physicians leave the room, I look at the plastic bracelet on my left wrist. I am at Beth Israel Hospital, New York City. My name is Frank Rosseus.

This fourth story is a continuation of the three short stories in my novella Back From the Bardo.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)