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Progress Is Derivative – The Welcome Home (Sanitarium) Debate

Remember my definition of Progress Is Derivative – taking the best things of what has come before and merging those things all together to come up with something unique, original and innovative.

Case Study for today is Metallica and their song Welcome Home (Sanitarium) from the album Master of Puppets released in 1986.

INTRO (0.00 to 0.20)
Let’s start with the natural harmonics intro. Back in 1971, a certain progressive rock band called Yes released Roundabout. The intro is more or less a droning note, with some harmonics and a hammer on/pull off lick on the E string. Remember Progress is Derivative. Take something from the past and make it better.

INTRO 2 and VERSE (0.21 to 1.48) and (2.10 to 3.10)
Anyone heard of a New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) band called Bleak House? If the answer is NO, then you are in the majority. However, a certain person called Lars Ulrich has heard of this band. James Hetfield has even said in an interview that the band shall remain anonymous. So Bleak House release a song called “Rainbow Warrior” as a seven-inch single in 1980 via Buzzard Records. By 1982, the band called it a day. The intro riff of Rainbow Warrior is catchy. It was so good that James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich are influenced by it. They start to jam on it and they start to tweak it into Welcome Home (Sanitarium). Remember Progress is Derivative. Take something from the past and make it better. Hetfield and Ulrich made this riff the centrepiece of Sanitarium.

OUTRO (4.05 to 4.26) and (04.48 to end)
Remember a little three piece band from Canada called Rush and a song called Tom Sawyer. Metallica have taken the intro from Tom Sawyer and used it as their outro. The feel and the phrasing of the two songs are almost identical. The note selection are just a touch different. Remember Progress is Derivative. Take something from the past and make it unique, innovative and original.

Welcome Home (Sanitarium) is a derivative version of three different songs accumulated into one song. This is what music is all about. Should Metallica have credited Graham Killin, the guitarist and main songwriter of the band Bleak House and the writer of Rainbow Warrior. My answer is No.

The final say goes to Graham Killin. The quote below is from an interview he did with John Tucker in November 2012, on the website http://www.hrrecords.de

‘Dad! You’ve got to go after them for this. They’re using your stuff and you’re not getting royalties for it!’ Killin can’t hide his amusement at the thought. The irony of the situation is that ‘Bleak House’, the novel from which the band took their name, has at its heart a lengthy legal argument that consumes everyone and everything. “So every now and then it’s a little topic that crops up in conversation, y’know? And I think ‘would it actually be worth approaching a music solicitor and saying that as it’s my intellectual property would I stand any chance of getting anything?’” he laughs again. “Who knows?”

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One thought on “Progress Is Derivative – The Welcome Home (Sanitarium) Debate

  1. Pingback: In Copyright Corporations Trust | destroyerofharmony

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