You've got to know your history!
A grandfatherly man told me that when I was young. He was emphatic, and as I have moved through life, I’ve learned what he meant.
It is my biggest beef with the singers who try out for American Idol. Many of the contestants show they have very little musical background by the song choices they make. In the auditions, I know hundreds of singers fail to make the cut, because how many times can you hear a song done badly and not call it torture? I tip my hat to the people who are the initial screeners. I’m sure they earn every penny for every bad note they hear.
Speaking of pennies, look at how much money Williams, Thicke and TI would have saved if they had first gotten permission from the family of Marvin Gaye. Let me say I really love Pharrell Williams and I like Robin Thicke and rapper TI. But they prove the point that I try to address with my some of my blog entries: history matters.
They have been ordered by the court to pay nearly half the proceeds that their song has made or a dollar for each copy of song that was sold. And let’s not even speculate as to what the lawyers have cost them.
Myself, I would have done like Sam Smith and Tom Petty and settled out of court. When you listen to "Got to Give It Up," you hear a ten minute cut consisting of a fifty-one second repeating melody done with soft singing in the background. The repeating bass lick is rounded out by piano, drum and cowbell, recorded as if at a party. Ditto for "Blurred Lines." Even the subject matter is the same, getting rid of shyness and getting down to the business of sex. Written decades apart and from a different point of view, when you boil it down lyrically, Marvin is trying to convince himself to be bold, whereas Robin and Company are trying to convince a girl she should be.
So, when I reach back a few decades and get inspired for a blog post, bear with me. I didn’t know that I was a frustrated jazz historian until they started handing out all this money for copying songs from their previous owners. Budding artists take note, I’m available for hire.
~Lydia Barnes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Listen for yourself in this "Blurred Lines"/"Got to Give It Up" mashup.