Friday, December 6, 2013
By ROD HARMON Deputy Managing Editor
Like many people, I was anxious to pick up Bob Dylan's new studio album, "Tempest," when it was released Tuesday. But the reason for my anxious state was born less from a need to listen to new material from Dylan than from a curiosity as to what piece of music he would flagrantly pilfer this time around.
I wasn't disappointed: "Early Roman Kings" on "Tempest" has the same melody and chord structure as "Hoochie Coochie Man" by Muddy Waters, just as "Someday Baby" from 2006's "Modern Times" was a direct lift from Muddy's classic "Trouble No More." And, just as he had with "Someday Baby," Bob neglects to give proper credit.
Don't get me wrong -- I love Dylan. I have most of his studio catalog in my CD collection, minus the drek from the '80s.
But -- and Dylanologists will probably send me hate mail for saying this -- there's no denying that he's always been something of a kleptomaniac, both literally (a colleague in Greenwich Village once called the cops on him because he had lifted his record collection; Johnny Cash had to go to Woodstock to retrieve his guitar shown on the cover of "Nashville Skyline" because Bob "forgot" to give it back) and creatively (on his debut album in 1962, Dylan "borrowed" Dave Van Ronk's arrangement of "House of the Rising Sun").
But Dylan isn't alone here. Some of rock music's biggest, most legendary stars have stolen from others. And I'm not talking about sampling or using a lyric here or there, I'm talking about blatantly taking the structure of the same song and calling it their own.
Here are five examples of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers poaching other's work without giving credit:
The Beach Boys, "Surfin' USA" -- When it comes to rockers using Chuck Berry riffs in their songs, the list is endless (see The Rolling Stones' early catalog). But the boys of summer didn't just take a riff from Chuck, they took an entire song -- "Sweet Little Sixteen -- and added new lyrics. Chuck sued, and now he's listed as a co-writer.
Led Zeppelin, "Boogie with Stu" -- Zeppelin was notorious for borrowing from old blues songs, but for this track off "Physical Graffiti," they took Ritchie Valens' "Ooh, My Head" virtually riff for riff, lyric by lyric. Following a trip to the barrister, Valens' mom received royalties from "Physical Graffiti."
Madonna, "Express Yourself" -- When Lady Gaga ripped off this song for "Born This Way," the Material Girl's fans immediately cried foul. Madonna even does a mash-up of the two songs in concert as a tongue-in-cheek dig at the would-be usurper of her queen of pop throne. But what Madge doesn't mention in the mash-up is how the chorus of "Express Yourself" sounds exactly like "Respect Yourself," a 1971 hit by The Staple Singers.
Metallica, "Enter Sandman" -- Lars Ulrich was so incensed that Metallica songs were leaked on Napster that he was one of the first to file suit against the pioneer file-sharing site. Guess he wasn't all that concerned that his band's best-known song rips off "Tapping into the Emotional Void," a 1989 song by the punk-metal band Excel.
Bruce Springsteen, "Radio Nowhere" -- Bruce was once called "the new Bob Dylan," so maybe it's no surprise that this song off "Magic" sounds a lot like Tommy Tutone's 1982 hit "867-5309/Jenny." Was that you, Boss, or just a brilliant disguise?
It's all right, ma, they're only stealing.
Madonna's live concert mashup "Express Yourself" with "Born This Way"
Deputy Managing Editor Rod Harmon may be contacted at 791-6450 or at: