Beatles 'Plagiarism'

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Thesiger
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Beatles 'Plagiarism'

Postby Thesiger » 30 Dec 2009, 18:37

They may have been the well of inspiration for a generation or more of lesser songwriters, but they weren't above nicking other people's words and music.

As far as I'm aware, there are several documented instances of their over-relying on the 'inspiration' of others;

Come Together; ripped off lines from Chuck Berry's "You can't catch me" and was settled with a commitment from Lennon to cover Chuck tracks on his future solo recordings.

Something by George ripped off James Taylor's Apple recording "Something in the way she moves".

Golden Slumbers - includes lyrics adapted from a 17th Century poem by Thomas Dekker.

Tomorrow Never Knows includes words from The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

I Feel Fine' s main guitar line borrowed from Bobby Parker's "Watch Your Step."

Good Day Sunshine owes a debt to John Sebastian's "Daydream".

Run For Your Life - first line comes from "Baby Let's Play House" as recorded by Elvis Presley.

Dear Prudence was "inspired" by Donovan's "Turquoise", according to Mr Leitch.

Fixing A Hole was co-written by Mal Evans (who settled for a one-off payment).

Free As A Bird includes a straight lift from the Shangri-Las "Remember (Walkin' In The Sand)." This is from the group addition, not the Lennon demo.

Any others?
Last edited by Thesiger on 31 Dec 2009, 16:23, edited 2 times in total.
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der nister
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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby der nister » 30 Dec 2009, 18:47

I know some fans get very threaten by these kind of source material discussions (ala Zep), but I find them fascinating, seeing how everything is connected. :)
It's kinda depressing for a music forum to be proud of not knowing musicians.

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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby Sneelock » 30 Dec 2009, 19:03

me too! if you're going to steal, steal from the best!

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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby Thesiger » 30 Dec 2009, 19:08

I Feel Fine (and Moby Dick - Led Zep.)

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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby Snarfyguy » 30 Dec 2009, 19:08

Aren't the lyrics to The Inner Light straight out of the Bhagavad-Gita or something?

I don't get the Good Day Sunshine/Lovin' Spoonful connection.
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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby TG » 30 Dec 2009, 19:08

I'm sure I've related this story before, but here goes - Sometime in the mid to late 1970s my father played me a tape of a song from (I think) the 1940s that was a near duplicate of When I'm 64. It had the clarinet part for the intro and the same basic melody as the Beatles' track. I have no idea what the song was, but it was nearly identical.
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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby sloopjohnc » 30 Dec 2009, 19:12

Well here's an interesting quote from Lennon based on an article I found:

"Especially in the early years I would often write a melody, a lyric in my head to some other song because I can't write music. So I would carry it around as somebody else's song and then change it when I got down to putting it on paper or tape - consciously change because I knew somebody's going to sue me or everybody's going to say "what a rip-off".'
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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby Muskrat » 30 Dec 2009, 19:29

Thesiger wrote:They may have been the well of inspiration for a generation or more of lesser songwriters, but they weren't above nicking other people's words and music.

As far as I'm aware, there are several documented instances of their over-relying on the 'inspiration' of others;

Come Together; ripped off lines from Chuck Berry's "You can't catch me" and was settled with a commitment from Lennon to cover Chuck tracks on his future solo recordings.

Something by George ripped off James Taylor's Apple recording "Something in the way she moves".

Golden Slumbers - includes lyrics adapted from a 17th Century poem by Thomas Dekker.

Tomorrow Never Knows includes words from The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

I Feel Fine' s main guitar line borrowed from Bobby Parker's "Watch Your Step."

Good Day Sunshine owes a debt to John Sebastian's "Daydream".

Run For Your Life - first line comes from "Baby Let's Play House" as recorded by Elvis Presley.

Dear Prudence was "inspired" by Donovan's "Turquoise", according to Mr Leitch.

Fixing A Hole was co-written by Mal Evans (who settled for a one-off payment).

Free As A Bird includes a straight lift from the Shangri-Las "Remember (Walkin' In The Sand)." This is from the group addition, not the Lennon demo.


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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby dang65 » 30 Dec 2009, 20:09

I really think that "plagiarism" should be outlawed. I don't mean that the act of plagiarism should be outlawed, I mean that the concept of plagiarism should be outlawed. It just seems so counter-intuitive to the whole meaning of Art.

Art should involve taking something which already exists and interpreting it. In fact, I think the more common expression when you openly take someone else's art and change it is, "re-interpreting" - which kind of implies to me that the "original" was an interpretation of something else in the first place (although I suppose that's not technically what it means as you can "interpret" your own music).

I'm not talking about direct duplication, by-the-way, like those old Top Of The Pops records, for example. Or even of singing someone else's song slightly differently and adding a trumpet solo. I mean, taking little bits as inspiration or as starting points or inserting little references into your own music, as all of the above Beatles examples do, and a lot of the Led Zeppelin ones do too. It's a wonderful thing to mix and match like that. It should be encouraged, and the "original artists" should be delighted when it happens.

Whenever I hear about one of those court cases where someone has professors of music analysing five notes to decide whether they are stolen or not, I just think that the accuser should immediately forfeit any right to be called an "artist". Fuck them.

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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby Stille Baron » 30 Dec 2009, 20:14

dang65 wrote:Whenever I hear about one of those court cases where someone has professors of music analysing five notes to decide whether they are stolen or not, I just think that the accuser should immediately forfeit any right to be called an "artist". Fuck them.


The accuser who has made pop records has already forfeited his or her right to be called an "artist!"
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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby Tactful Cactus » 30 Dec 2009, 20:18




Was "Michelle" gleaned from any particular song/songwriter?

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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby Snarfyguy » 30 Dec 2009, 20:31

dang65 wrote:Whenever I hear about one of those court cases where someone has professors of music analysing five notes to decide whether they are stolen or not, I just think that the accuser should immediately forfeit any right to be called an "artist". Fuck them.

Don't forget, these kinds of suits are often brought by the copyright holder or publishing company, not necessarily the composer.

Also, as a musician and songwriter myself, if someone misappropriated my unique creation and profited from it, damn right he'd hear from my lawyer.
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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby Billybob Dylan » 30 Dec 2009, 20:33

goldwax wrote:
Thesiger wrote:Tomorrow Never Knows includes words from The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

And Peter Fonda, while tripping on acid.

Maybe it was TKN too, but Fonda is alleged to have said "I know what it's like to be dead" as used in She Said, She Said.
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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby toomanyhatz » 30 Dec 2009, 20:35

A pretty common blues riff, obviously, but no others sound quite so much like the beginning of "Revolution."



Probably subconscious, mind you. And an excuse to listen to a great song, so I don't begrudge Lennon.
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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby Billybob Dylan » 30 Dec 2009, 20:37

Tactful Cactus wrote:


Was "Michelle" gleaned from any particular song/songwriter?

I hear more Lady Madonna than Michelle.
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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby Snarfyguy » 30 Dec 2009, 20:39

goldwax wrote:
Snarfyguy wrote:Also, as a musician and songwriter myself, if someone misappropriated my unique creation* and profited from it**, damn right he'd hear from my lawyer.



*Unlikely scenario
**HIGHLY unlikely scenario

:P

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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby Tactful Cactus » 30 Dec 2009, 20:41

They were meant to be seperate.

"Bad Penny Blues" is an influence on "Lady Madonna"

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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby toomanyhatz » 30 Dec 2009, 20:48

Tactful Cactus wrote:They were meant to be seperate.

"Bad Penny Blues" is an influence on "Lady Madonna"


I'd seen that written before, but I don't really hear it. It's a blues progression and it's on piano, and it uses a similar voicing. Other than that...(and there's surely nothing in it like the bridge on "Lady Madonna" which is one of Paul's cleverer ones at that).
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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby Snarfyguy » 30 Dec 2009, 20:51

Lady Madonna sounds more Fats Domino than that thing, although I don't know that it sounds like any particular Fats Domino song. That seems more like pastiche than plagiarism.
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Re: Beatles Plagiarism

Postby Tactful Cactus » 30 Dec 2009, 20:54

The intro to "Lady Madonna" sounds like a direct lift to me.