A country song about an omnibus?


Lee Thomas Miller, songwriter and president of the Nashville Songwriters Association International, right, speaks during a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing with Neil Portnow, president and chief executive officer of the Recording Academym on Tuesday. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Nothing gets your foot tapping like a little ditty about congressional procedure.

At a House hearing on music licensing laws Tuesday, Lee Thomas Miller, a country music songwriter, was testifying earnestly about the difficulty lyricists have making a living when music is so easily obtained for free online.

“I am America’s smallest small business. I sit down and make stuff up. I do not succeed if my songs are not recorded, sold and played,” he said. Aiming for the heartstrings of the panel, he told them his 11-year-old son asked his wife if after the Capitol Hill hearing all their problems would go away. His wife passed along the query.

“And to her, I have to say, ‘I don’t know.’ It’s a hard process, obviously a complicated process. I am not the legal guy here. I look for words to rhyme with love every day,” Miller said. “Until yesterday, I had never used the word ‘omnibus’ — okay? And that’s the truth.”

Now considering Congress’s track record of late, no one on that dais was going to be able to give Miller’s son any absolutes that legislation promoting songwriter equity will pass. But at least one member of Congress used the opportunity to show off some sweet song-making skills.

Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) suggested Miller use this line in his next song: “Omnibus pieces of legislation tend to omit all of us.”

Because bus rhymes with us… Kind of.

But another lawmaker quickly crushed that idea.

“I hate to think that you would spend a second after this hearing trying to rhyme anything with ‘omnibus’,” Rep. Ted Deutch (R-Fla.) said to Miller. “Let me tell you, there’s nobody who would buy that record and listen to that record, least of all members of Congress.”

 

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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