Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

A Life’s Shadow Hangs

When is inspiration/influence just that and when is inspiration/influence copying? 

“Hallowed Be Thy Name” has six lines similar to “Life’s Shadow” from Beckett. 

Mark my words my soul lives on 
Please don’t worry cause I’ve have gone 
I’ve gone beyond to see the truth
When your time is close at hand
Maybe then you’ll understand
Life down there is just a strange illusion

– Beckett, “Life’s Shadow” (1974)

Mark my words, believe my soul lives on
Don’t worry now that I have gone
I’ve gone beyond to seek the truth
When you know that your time is close at hand
Maybe then you’ll begin to understand
Life down here is just a strange illusion

– Iron Maiden, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (1982)

In a song that has many verses, is six similar lines copying or influence?

The fact both songs have similar themes about a person dying is irrelevant. There are thousands of songs that have that same theme.

In every case of copying, I am sure people could find hundreds of other songs that have something similar. Everything, in any artform, are ALL inspired by something or someone who touched on the same matter, subject or concept.

It is possible and part of music history to borrow without “stealing”. When ideas appear in ones mind, quite often they are unconsciously inspired by a piece of music the artist has heard. And it’s perfectly okay and very common to take an existing idea and turn it into something new. 

In the liner notes for Miles Davis “Star People” album, he mentions how the bass line in “Come And Get It” is taken from an old Otis Redding lick. And he even mentions how the chord sequence from “It Gets Better” was taken from a Lightning Hopkins song. Miles Davis basically took ideas from early blues recordings and turned them into something modern. What a brilliant concept.

Metallica took a progression and a feel from “Tom Sawyer” and used it for the Bridge section of “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”. Plus they took the whole intro/verse section from a Bleak House song called “Rainbow Warrior”. And the Metallica song sounds nothing like Rush or Bleak House in the end.

In the outro solo of “Runaround”, Eddie Van Halen quotes a piece of Paul Kossof’s classic solo from Free’s “All Right Now”. No biggie. This is seen as paying homage to his influence.

Michael Schenker took a David Gilmour lick from “Hey You” and used it in “Lost Horizons”. But the song and lead break sound totally different to what Gilmour did, and it’s the same notes and same phrasing. Exactly the same.

Black Crowes Rich Robinson took his Keith Richards influence “Twice As Hard”. The song is in Open G tuning, a staple of the Keith Richards rhythm guitar sound. The opening riff in the song is generic Keith and the end of the phrase is lifted right off “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin” from the “Sticky Fingers” album. I can just predict people bringing lawsuits against artists for using a certain tuning in the future.

Artists should be free to use their imaginations to recreate a song to suit their own vision.

Like Miles Davis, Steve Harris used his influences to create something new and modern and perfect for the era his band was in.

And here is a mash up of the two songs lyrics from me? 

Is it copying, stealing or unique enough to be original or original enough to show inspiration?

A Hallowed Shadow Of Life

See the people walking past
While I wait in my cell
And the bells begin to chime
On a life that doesn’t have much time

As I look in the mirror
A fallen angel is getting clearer

As the sands of time run low
One by one, people pass me by
Strangers of a world that has gone very wrong for me

Some breakdown and start to cry
When the priest comes to read me my last rites

Somebody please tell me I’m dreaming
As I walk, my life drifts before me
I’m trying to be strong
After all I’m not afraid of dying

Hear these words
For I have seen
My soul lives on
In your dreams
And even though I’m gone
I live beyond
For the truth is easy to see
When I am free

And I finally understand
The invisible hand
Turning life
Into a strange illusion

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9 thoughts on “A Life’s Shadow Hangs

    • Barry McKay says:

      Not only did Steve Harris copy half the lyrics of Life’s Shadow for ‘Hallowed’ … he also stole a line of lyrics from Beckett’s ‘A Rainbow’s Gold’ for Hallowed. This is on top of stealing the guitar solo from Life’s Shadow for The Nomad.

      Harris has his name solely credited on numerous Iron Maiden released tracks which others jointly composed.

      • Barry McKay says:

        Unlike you, I used to be M.D. of a music publishing company that published hundreds of songs including most of the songs on three major albums and numerous hits

        I know you are enjoying being on your soap box

        Now please pay attention. Steve Harris is a song thief. I gather he’s also a great guy. And he’s very talented. So…I blame Smallwood. He enjoys a certain reputation.

      • Barry McKay says:

        Get real. There’s a big difference between Steve Harris and accidental copyright infringers.

        For example…

        The Beatles gave me a gift of an Apple watch back in 1972. The late George Martin and I knew each other, to speak to. I loved The Beatles. When Sir Paul McCartney and I l
        chatted, the subject matter was so amusing it’s in my forthcoming book. However even the late, great George Harrison (a lovely man) messed up…but in his case it was almost certainly an honest mess up. He used another writer’s music for My Sweet Lord. It could happen to the most honest and most talented musicians. It did…to George.

        This is Not the case with Steve Harris.

        Steve Harris has deliberately stolen the intellectual property of others. Was he encouraged by Rod Smallwood? We will find out.

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