Heard This One Before?

Apparently, when Paul McCartney wrote Yesterday he was so convinced that he had unwittingly copied the tune that he played it to people asking them if they recognised the melody.  

This could also be an urban myth but there is a reason it comes to my mind. 

I have recently written a new as yet unrecorded songs and although there is a very basic Garageband version on my iPhone for the most part the song exists in my mind where it is on heavy rotation. 

This I think and hope is why I believe that I may have committed inadvertent plagiary. 

A situation like this occurred years ago. I was smugly rejoicing in my new composition sure that I had penned a new Soul Classic. Imagine my horror when upon listening to Nina Simone's version of Everything Must Change written by Bernard Ighner it became clear that my inspired moment was nothing more than a melodic duplication. 

The lyrics were quote good though. 

For a moment it felt like everything including my heart and blood flow stopped.  The saliva evaporated from my mouth and I stood stock still. 

'How could this have happened?'

Luckily, I had managed to keep this one to myself at this point so my humiliation was private. Even so I felt it deeply. 

Some artists seem unaware or uncaring that their work has more than a vague resemblance to existing pieces. Maybe they feel the familiarity of their offerings will make it easier to gain an audience already faithful to the original?

I realise that my influences are audible in my work. To escape that is impossible. What I do want to do is to be able to offer my voice and sound in an original way. I am eager to talk freely about the people who have inspired me. I have learned from the best and I think the flame should shine on them forevermore. 

In no particular order other than recall some of my favourites include:

Anita Baker. 

Luther Vandross 

Stevie Wonder

Quincy Jones

Minnie Ripperton

Barbara Striesand

Mariah Carey

Dolly Parton

Michael McDonald 

Michael Jackson

Al Jarreau 

Steely Dan

Isley Brothers

Rod Temperton 

Nina Simone

Carole King 

And many more...

I think it is only fitting that over time I write about why and how each individual has shaped my artistic persona. 

I very rarely listen to commercial radio today because I do not feel inspired by it.

There are the few standout tunes and some originality but there seems to be a formula adopted by many even quite established artists. The influences do not seem to mine as far back which is an opportunity missed because there is so much to discover. 

It sounds like nobody is looking further back than the past five or so years and as a result the bulk of popular music sounds the same and it is all too obvious where the idea came from.

Who knows what is happening there? Maybe that is the idea, to keep things safe and similar.  

But how innovative can a young wannabe be if the mainstream offerings lack surprises and daring? 

You can only hope that they know someone who has a knowledge of the pioneers of the craft so they can get a sense of what is possible and strive to strike out from the crowd. 

So I shall go back to my new song. Until I get back into the studio I will be working on it in my mind, so if you see me walking down the street muttering to myself fear not for my sanity, it is just songwriting in motion. 


Love Yourself! 


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