Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music

P(etty)L(ynne)A(ttack)GIARIZE

Anyone heard Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”. I know it’s not a rock or metal song, however since July last year, thousands of YouTube clips came up where YouTube users mashed up “Stay With Me” with Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” that was a co-write with Jeff Lynne from ELO and released back in 1989.

And to be honest I had no idea that Petty and Lynne went for royalties on this one, so when I came across the stories a few days ago about it, I have to admit I had a laugh.

I laughed first because both Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne as musicians have used a lot of blues standards and classical music respectively in their output.

I laughed because one of the greatest bands in the world Led Zeppelin plagiarized a shit load of folk and blues standards. Hell, their biggest song “Stairway To Heaven” was even plagiarized.

I laughed because one of the biggest bands in the world today, Metallica plagiarized a shit load of metal and skate metal bands for their biggest songs.

I laughed because the whole British rock invasion was a cultural movement based on plagiarizing the blues standards of the thirties to the fifties.

I laughed because Avenged Sevenfold released a great rock record that plagiarized a shit load of other bands from the Eighties and the Nineties.

I laughed because the whole concept of writing music is to copy something that came before it and to allow that to influence you.

I laughed because the copyright bullshit laws that Petty and his team used are there to protect songwriters from competitive works that diminished the original work. I can honestly say that Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” in no way diminished Tom Petty’s “I Wont Back Down”. There is no way that people who like “Stay With Me” would neglect Tom Petty’s “I Wont Back Down”.

I laughed because the vocal melodies are both simple pentatonic sequences. The pentatonic scale is a five note scale that is a standard in rock and metal.

I laughed because Tom Petty when questioned about similarities between The Strokes “Last Nite” and Red Hot Chilli Peppers “Dani California” with Petty’s “American Girl” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” said that he doesn’t believe in court actions to fight over pop songs.

I laughed because one of the albums I have been listening to lately is the poster child for copying and what a fucking great album it is. That is Kingdom Come’s self-titled album.

I laughed because when it comes to music everything is loaded with so much emotion.

I laughed because all music is a derivative of what came before it.

I laughed because the reason WHY WE LIKE music is that it sounds like something familiar.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories

We Are All Copyists

The way we improve as humans is by finding a better way of doing things. It is very rare that we improve as humans by doing something from scratch. So in other words we copy what we see and we improve upon it. We do that from the day we are born.

The whole English rock movement in the sixties was born from copying the blues and folk movements and improving on them.

Keith Richards even went on to say that you can’t copyright the blues as all of the blues standards were copied over and over again so that thousands of derivative works existed.

Deep Purple built a career on taking certain sections from jazz standards that Jon Lord knew and turning them into rock songs.

Led Zeppelin built a career on taking certain sections from other obscure songs and turning them into definitive masterpieces.

Black Sabbath had their roots in blues, classical and jazz. They borrowed from those genres. Listen to Bill Ward’s drumming on the early records. It’s almost got a swing, jazz feel to it.

Metallica initially built a career on taking certain sections from obscure New Wave Of British Metal acts and turning them into thrash metal masterpieces. For the self-titled BLACK album, the lead off track “Enter Sandman” has an intro that is copied and improved on from a local Californian band.

It is human nature that we are always looking at ways to improve. And copying something that came before, and then adding incremental improvements to it is how we do it. I see it in my children. In how they take things in, how they learn and how they copy things and add their own unique touch to it.

In the music that we listen to there are always elements of copying. And that, really, is what happens all the time.

Copying is there and it has made a lot of people upset over the last 40 years. I always love it when a musician says “the songs are like my children”. I have children and there is no chance I can use that analogy.

One thing I do know is that copying is a key ingredient in the process of creating new works and it is a shame that the corporations that owe the majority of the copyrights are destroying this culture so that they can protect their bottom lines.

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