Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday
It's human nature to be inspired by the works of others, music is no exception. The question becomes when does it cross the line from homage to pilferage? There are songs throughout modern music that are influenced by others, and others that you can clearly hear the original work.
First up, an homage. I love me some Dan Fogelberg, and one of my favorites is a seasonal staple, Same Old Lang Syne.
Come on, sing that first line with me:
"Met my old lover at the grocery store, the snow was falling Christmas Eve" Now, sing it with a much quicker tempo.
Did you hear it? The influencing work? I'll give you a hint.
I remember hearing the song on American Top 40 when it was charting, and Casey Kasem mentioned this little tidbit of information about the 1812 and it has always stuck with me. In the many times I've heard the 1812, I can help by have that lyric run through my head.
Sometimes, the song clearly steps over the line from simple homage to a gifted composer to a blatant borrowing of a previous hit. For years, I've loved George Harrison's My Sweet Lord. It was nice to see the quiet Beatle's talent front and center, showcasing his skills as a writer in his own right. Then again, that melody line and chorus sounded strangely familiar...
It sounded an awful lot like the Chiffon's "He's So Fine"
Harrison himself said he was inspired to write it after hearing "Oh Happy Day" by the Edwin Hawkins Singers.
The subsequent lawsuit found that he had unintentionally copied "He's So Fine" and he forfeited all royalties. However, he later bought the right to "He's So Fine", so I guess it came full circle.
Then there are these two that are virtually identical, so much so that when I hear one, I can be found singing the lyrics. Check it out:
Ritchie Valen's La Bamba, which was inspired by a traditional Mexican melody
The copy was written by Phil Medley and Bert Russell and first recorded by the Top Notes, but the version we hear most often is sung by a little band from Liverpool:
There are tons of examples like this in music, but these are the three pairs that get me every time I hear one or the other. So, borrowing or homage?