21 Guns On The Telephone Line

July 23, 2009 at 11:03 pm (Entertainment, General, Media, Music) (, , , , , , , , )

Hey, kids!  Dlock’s back again with another Magical Musical Juxtaposition.

Green Day’s newest album, 21st Century Breakdown, features a little tune called 21 Guns. Something about the chorus seemed a little familiar. Let’s have a listen…

It took me a few weeks here for my wobbly old brains to make the connection.  Let’s listen now to a band from my youth (which feels like only yesterday, but for some reason is now decades gone)…

Oh, telephone line, give me some time – I’m living in twilight. Those few bars sound – to my grizzled ears – a lot like the Green Day chorus.

Good old Electric Light Orchestra. They were quite the supergroup, back in the days of leisure suits and disco dancing. I first saw ELO on NBC’s late night Midnight Special concert program, which was a sort of cross between MTV and American Bandstand, and announced by Wolfman Jack. They performed Roll Over Beethoven which, at the time, I thought was the coolest thing ever.

(Jeff Lynne looked totally freaky! Hey, it was 1973, and everyone had as much hair as they could possibly grow.)

Have a fine weekend, everyone.  Got to get back to work.  Be looking for more examinations of music and pop culture in a few days.

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Billy Joel Didn’t Start The Fire

July 21, 2009 at 12:41 am (Entertainment, General, Media, Music) (, , , , , )

(Yeah, another audio comparo blog post. I’ve got a few of these left. See what happens when I don’t blog for 6 flippin’ months?)

Okay. Here we go. In 1989, Billy Joel released a fast-moving, pop-culture-reference-loaded, rock-rapper titled We Didn’t Start The Fire:

Turned out to be hugely popular, with lots of air play at the time. The “classic” FM stations still play it, almost everywhere you go in the Western World.

However, three years earlier, a much less well-known band called Big Audio Dynamite had recorded a remarkably similar tune called E = MC2:

Hate doing that to you, Billy. Love ya, man. Have lots of your albums, even on vinyl. Big fan, back in the day. Saw Billy Joel in Portland on The Stranger tour. People were dancing in the aisles. I’ve even heard Cold Spring Harbor. But – this sounds like at least an influence, if not a lift.

And the hits just keep on coming. Back in a few days with more cool sounds from Dave’s stacks of wax. If you’ve got some ideas (or complaints), well… there’s that space below, you know.

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And Now For Something Completely Macabre

July 14, 2009 at 11:52 pm (Entertainment, General, Music) (, , , , , , )

In my last post, I discussed a classic case of a new song borrowing from an old song – My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine. This time, we’re looking at a different kind of “classic”: Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde vs. Wednesday 13’s Elect Death For President.

Content warning! These two songs are loud, vile, rude, lewd, and will piss off your parents. Play them at your own risk, or just skip this entry if you are not up for bouncing around in a virtual mosh pit. Without further ado, the “original”, from 1990 – Bloodletting:

Mmmm. Vampires. Very timely for all you Twilight fans out there. Now, with a nod to Rod Serling, for your consideration: one Wednesday 13

(Sorry. Couldn’t find a video on YouTube. Or anywhere! In order to hear this one, you’ll have to click the link above, opening a new window or tab, which takes you to Rhapsody.com, where you can play this uplifting little ditty. Don’t be afraid. It won’t hurt. Much.)

devilhorns1Oh, yeah. Didn’t that feel good? Did you bang your head and throw rock / devil horns with one or both hands? Good for you. You’re in the spirit of things now.

OK, what do you think? Perhaps Mr. 13 was listening to an old Concrete Blonde CD, and twisted it round a bit? Add another chord at the end of that 3-chord progression, and I think you’re there. In fact, you’ll hear it alternating in the bass line of Bloodletting.

Let’s hear your thoughts or suggestions. Bring it. And head back here in a few days for more. I’ve got several songs left, and then we’ll pick up on some other topics of great social and political import once again, after I’ve got this thing out of my system.

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A Classic “Borrowed” Melody

July 5, 2009 at 8:16 pm (Entertainment, General, Media, Music) (, , , , , , , , )

This time, let’s take a look at the most well-known case of musical plagiarism, the George Harrison My Sweet Lord debacle. In late 1969, George, noodling around on his guitar, came up with a little tune that was released on his 1970 album, All Things Must Pass:

Turned out that George appears to have – either consciously or unconsciously – taken the melody for My Sweet Lord from a song recorded by The Chiffons in 1962, He’s So Fine:

Do lang, indeed… And so, George was well and truly raked over the coals, and eventually a (rather complex) settlement was reached.

What a mess. George later recorded a song about the experience, called, simply enough, This Song:

George Harrison – This Song

(Sorry about that failure to embed the video. The YouTube page opens in a new window. The copyright holders are being sticky about it. Poopheads.)

Self-parody never sounded so good. Monty Python alumnus Eric Idle even makes a brief voice appearance about halfway through, offering the opinion that it “sounds like Sugar Pie Honey Bunch!”

Or perhaps, as Eric also said, it sounds more like Rescue Me.  Funny, though.  The ladies of the jury look like George.

Please join me here again in a few days to examine another pair of songs, and compare their similarities. If you’ve got any ideas, or wish to dispute my conclusions, feel free to offer your opinion below. I’m looking forward to it!

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