One morning, Joe Satriani woke up to 40 text messages on his cell phone.Á‚ After scrolling through 40 variations of Á¢€Å“holy schet u got ripped off,Á¢€ Joe texted back his good friend (whose Internet name is Fuzzyslippers621) the following reply: Á¢€Å“wot d feck R U talkin bout?Á¢€Á‚ This went back and forth for about 15 minutes until Joe realized his cell phone was actually a phone.Á‚ So he called Fuzzyslippers621 and asked in regular English, Á¢€Å“What the fuck are you talking about?Á¢€Á‚ To which his friend replied, Á¢€Å“HavenÁ¢€â„¢t you heard the new Coldplay song?Á¢€Á‚ He had not, but after launching his Limewire program, he downloaded an illegal copy, waited for his iTunes player to play it, and lathered up his head for his morning shave.
The opening strains of the song were interesting, but he had no idea what all this Á¢€Å“ripping offÁ¢€ business was, until …
He was stunned. There it was.Á‚ An unabashedly plagiarized portion of a song he wrote years before.Á‚ Á¢€Å“How could this be?Á¢€ He wondered as he carefully glided the Gillete Á¢€Å“FusionÁ¢€ razor over his grizzled pate.Á‚ The more his listened to Á¢€Å“Viva La Vida,Á¢€ the angrier he got.Á‚ Beads of shaving cream-infused sweat started rolling off his head. Furiously, he texted his lawyer the following message:Á‚ Á¢€Å“I wnt 2 sue.Á¢€
And so began the story of one artistÁ¢€â„¢s quest to right the wrongs that had, uh, wronged … him. Right.
Joe SatrianiÁ¢€â„¢s claim may have merit, but if he does win in court, lawyers for artists whose work has been the inspiration for other songs that sound uncannily like the original are going to have work after listening to this mix.
My Popdose colleague Matthew Bolin started a back and forth about SatrianiÁ¢€â„¢s lawsuit against Coldplay, and me being the opportunist I am, decided to float a Mix Six idea I had been thinking about for a few weeks. Jeff Giles, Scott Malchus and Michael Fortes all contributed suggestions to this mix, so with that, letÁ¢€â„¢s get started!
Yeah, this is one of those Á¢€Å“WTFÁ¢€ moments where you wonder why the Mighty Zep didnÁ¢€â„¢t let loose the lawyers on those copycat Mormon brothers.Á‚ Sure, the Osmonds have been reinventing themselves since Andy Williams first brought them into the popular culture. But by the early Á¢€â„¢70s, they were cashing in by ripping off the Jackson 5 on Á¢€Å“One Bad Apple,Á¢€ and then Zep a couple of years later with Á¢€Å“Hold Her Tight.Á¢€Á‚ The guitar riff the Osmonds use is pretty much the same one Jimmy Page laid on us cats back in 1970, except the tempo is increased for maximum rockinÁ¢€â„¢ rip off. Oh, and Á¢€Å“Hold Her TightÁ¢€ went to #14. And Á¢€Å“Immigrant Song?Á¢€ Well, it wasnÁ¢€â„¢t in the Top 40, but one could make the case that Robert PlantÁ¢€â„¢s wail at the beginning of the song ripped off part of the melody from the Á¢€Å“Get SmartÁ¢€ theme song.Á‚ Have a listen!
Somewhere in the wilds of Wisconsin where Tommy Heath of Tommy Tutone fame lives, heÁ¢€â„¢s probably shitting himself with worry about what it would mean to challenge The Boss in court over the similarity between his hit song and BruceÁ¢€â„¢s Á¢€Å“Radio Nowhere.Á¢€Á‚ My view, however, is that if youÁ¢€â„¢re going to be ripped off, itÁ¢€â„¢s an honor to be ripped off by Springsteen. And look at it this way, Tommy: it gives you some colorful stories to tell your friends while youÁ¢€â„¢re ice fishing.
The legal battle over these two songs, as you probably know, headed for court upon release of AvrilÁ¢€â„¢s tune.Á‚ But the two parties reached an agreement before the trial.Á‚ It seems AvrilÁ¢€â„¢s lawyer was quick on his feet and pointed out that the RubinoosÁ¢€â„¢ chorus sounded a lot like Á¢€Å“Get Off My CloudÁ¢€ by some group called the Rolling Stones. No word on whether Toni Basil is lawyering up against Avril over Á¢€Å“Mickey.Á¢€
Paul Simon isÁ‚ a classic poacher of musical ideas, but Lindsay Buckingham strikes me as a guy who is more auteur than pirate.Á‚ But if you canÁ¢€â„¢t fill in the (Á¢€Å“Aw, aw, aw, aw, aw awÁ¢€) vocal hook in the chorus of Á¢€Å“Peacekeeper with Á¢€Å“All the worldÁ¢€â„¢s a sunny dayÁ¢€ from Á¢€Å“Kodachrome,Á¢€ then you live on some polygamist compound in central Utah.
I suppose John Á¢€Å“Johnny BallsacÁ¢€ Mayer could be forgiven by the estate of Curtis Mayfield if he just flat out admitted, Á¢€Å“Yeah, this song owes almost everything to Curtis Mayfield. And because it does, IÁ¢€â„¢m giving a portion of my royalties to whatever non-profit political organization his estate tells me to.Á¢€ Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?
Well Á¢€Å“Do-lang, do-lang, do-lang, do-lang,Á¢€ cribbing the melody from the Chiffons cost Georgie boy over $500,000 (US) in royalties — until he put a stop to all that by buying the rights to Á¢€Å“HeÁ¢€â„¢s So Fine.Á¢€ Harrison provides a good lesson to those who are so keen to pilfer from others: If youÁ¢€â„¢re rich enough, just buy the rights to the song youÁ¢€â„¢re, um, Á¢€Å“borrowing from,Á¢€ before releasing yours.Á‚ Otherwise, ask permission — because you probably wonÁ¢€â„¢t get forgiveness if it goes to court.