Abnormal Interviews: Asheville Singer-Songwriter Chuck Brodsky, Writer of “Talk To My Lawyer”

Remember a few months ago when we – along with our pals at the Drug and Device Law blog – compiled a list of all of the rock songs mentioning lawyers? It was during that time that we discovered Chuck Brodsky’s song, “Talk To My Lawyer,” which we enjoyed and included on our list. Brodsky‘s “Talk To My Lawyer” chronicles a series of relatively minor events and their potential as lawsuits if presented to the proper lawyer.  While we have grown weary of lawyer jokes over the years, we couldn’t help but chuckle when he heard Brodsky’s tune and its reference to the infamous Stella Liebeck McDonald’s hot coffee case. We soon learned that Mr. Brodsky lives in nearby Asheville, North Carolina, so we felt we had to contact him and request an interview about the genesis of the song. So, today, Abnormal Use once again continues its series, “Abnormal Interviews,” in which the site will conduct brief interviews with law professors, practitioners, and makers of legal themed popular culture.  Note: Brodsky will be performing live this Friday night at a CD release party at The Grey Eagle rock club in Asheville, North Carolina, and we suspect he may play “Talk To My Lawyer” at that show. Finally, for those who’ve not heard the song, though, here is a video of him singing that wonderful ode to litigiousness at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival. Watch it, and then read the interview which follows.

1)  What was your inspiration to write “Talk To My Lawyer”?

Well, at the time I wrote it many years ago, probably, if I had to guess, I’d say around 1990, give or take a couple of years. I think there were just a lot of frivolous lawsuits flying around at the time.  Maybe even the McDonald’s coffee case.  I can’t remember exactly because it was so long ago, but I think it was a way to have a laugh at it, treat it with irony.

2)  Did you ever want to be a lawyer?

I joke that I do.  When I’m on stage I often tell people that I wanted to be a lawyer but my parents talked me into being a folk singer.

3)  [Besides the McDonald’s case] were there any other cases in the news that inspired any of the verses?

Not any one that I can recall after all these years but you know . . . frivolous cases come up all the time.  There probably were several that were in the news at the time, maybe a couple.  Why not have a little bit of fun writing about them?

4)  Have you had any comments from lawyers about the song?

Yeah.  Lots, and they tend to really get a laugh out of it.  It’s pretty popular.  I’ve had law firms that have bought a copy of the CD with the song on it for all their partners and employees.  I’ve never had any lawyers that didn’t laugh.  Nobody has came up to me and has taken offense.  Never meant to be offensive.  Just a little bit of irony, little way we can laugh at ourselves.

5)  How would you describe your music both stylistically and lyrically?

Well, I think I pay a lot of attention to detail.  I think my music is rooted in traditional music. . . or Americana type singer-songwriter.  I think my lyrics all have something to say.  I don’t ever write a song that’s meaningless in my opinion.  I like to tell stories, but not all of my songs are story songs.  The ones that are tend to be about real people that inspire me to words that I feel are touching and might touch other people.  But I also have commentary in my songs about the world as it is and my feelings about it.  I feel like my songs are honest.  I try to be honest.  I try to address real issues, but not in a way that makes anybody feel excluded.  That’s really not what it’s about.  It’s about making everybody feel welcome and part of it.

6)  Are you excited about playing the Gray Eagle?

I’m very excited.  I live in Asheville, and I only play there a couple of times a year and this particular show will be a CD release for a brand new album [Subtotal Eclipse].  I’m very excited.

BONUS QUESTION:  What is your favorite song about lawyers or legal themes?

Mine.  I don’t really know of any others to be honest.  I said that half jokingly.  I really am not aware of any other songs.  Oh, Warren Zevon has a song, “Lawyers, Guns and Money.”

BIOGRAPHY: Chuck Brodsky is a singer-songwriter whose music has been influenced by the mountains of Western North Carolina and traditional folk.  His song, “Radio,” appeared in the feature film of the same name.  Brodsky, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, now resides in Asheville, North Carolina.

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