Self-editing is overrated. Or is it?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Hey, that's a hit song! Hey, wait a minute, that's MY hit song!

Boy, this is my nightmare in a nutshell.

As you know, I write music for a living. And I listen to other people's music constantly. As a result, I'm constantly afraid that I've accidentally copied someone's music and made my own song out of it. I try to be really careful not to do this, but let's face it, all music is derivative of other music on some level.

There is no greater illustration of this than this game that I play with my wife called "Hey, what's this song really?" It goes like this: I'm thinking of a new song that sounds familiar, I say to my wife "Hey, what is this song really? Where have I stolen this from?", she then gives me an answer of some completely different song that it does not resemble at all. I then invariably say "WHAT? What are you talking about?". She then says "Yeah, absolutely!" and then sings the inappropriate song in the key of the song I'm thinking of, and then says "See? Almost the same, except the key is totally different, and all the notes are in a slightly different place."

She does this every time, with a completely straight face. I swear to you she absolutely does not acknowledge that virtually any song can be any other song if you change the key and rearrange all the notes. It never ceases to be incredibly entertaining, if not overly helpful.

But who really could have used my wife's music services is the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and I mean that they could have used it in a serious way. Now I would like to say that I'm a longtime fan of this band, and really think that they are terrific. By now, you've probably heard their hit "Dani California". If you haven't, here it is in its full glory with a truly excellent video where the band pretends to be Elvis Preseley, Herman's Hermits, Cream, Sex Pistols, The Misfits, Nirvana, and several others:

Great video, right? And that song is pretty catchy, right? You feel like you might have heard it before, right?

Bad news. You have.

It's actually a fairly consistent note-for-note rip-off of "Mary Jane's Last Dance" by Tom Petty. How close is it? Well......

Take a listen to the two songs back to back.

Bad, right? Hey, there but for the grace of God go I, or any of us for that matter. Ya know? The guitar progression of Am, G, D, and back to Am is one of the most used chord progressions in rock music. But still, when you get called out like this, it's hard not to be a little ashamed of not doing your homework.

At least I would be. Maybe that's why I always ask my wife. Even if she's way off, at least I've done my due diligence on some level.



Anonymous Lilly said...

Kickass. I like what this guy did, and you know how much I like this game!

6/05/2006 10:31 PM

Anonymous Andy said...

Y'wow. What's most disturbing is that I didn't at first realize that the MP3 clip mixed the two. I'm sitting here listening to Tom Petty, and it suddenly dawned on me, "Wait a second...that's Anthony Kiedis. Holy crap!" The transition just slipped right by me. Seriously, dudes, what were you thinking?!

It flashes me back to the Vanilla Ice/Queen+Bowie thing, but there, as dumb as he looked claiming it, Ice did have the "ding" to cling to. (If you don't remember that classic TV moment, head here and click on the video "20 Most Outrageous Moments: Vanilla Sings His Dings"--well worth the minute or two!).

Here they can't even claim "an itty bitty change!"


6/05/2006 11:17 PM

Anonymous Andy said...

Now that I've listened again, I do feel obligated to point out that, now that I'm listening with full attention, obviously the style and engineering are quite different, LOL. But I'll tell ya, when I first listened while still reading the rest of the page (and in my drifting towards bed state), it was eerie. It's still eerie, just not as much, "Hey, when did that change to RHCP?!" as it first seemed :o)

6/05/2006 11:19 PM


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