Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Songs #80 & 81 (and 82!) - It's TWOsday!

Song #80 of 9999                                                Song #81 of 9999
Title: My Sweet Lord                                          Title: He's So Fine
Artist: George Harrison                                       Artist: The Chiffons
Year: 1970                                                           Year: 1963
Album: All Things Must Pass                             Album: He's So Fine

The plagiarism suit brought against former Beatle George Harrison for his massive hit "My Sweet Lord" seems like the kind of thing most pop music fans would already be aware of, but I'm going to assume that my young hip audience who were surely born after 1980 don't know about it. Which means all of you people in the know are just going to have to deal.

The infamous case of Brightsongs Music v. Harrisongs Music lasted over ten years and ended with the decision that Harrison "subconsciously" copied "He's So Fine" by The Chiffons. There is no question that the songs are melodically the same and the chord structure is only slightly more complex in Harrison's song. (Those slight differences go a long way for my two cents—one of the great strengths of Harrison as a songwriter is his transitional progressions.) Harrison was ordered to pay damages in the amount of 1.6 million dollars, but managed to shave a million dollars off the fine by essentially buying the rights to "He's So Fine" during the course of the trial! (Technically, his former manager Allen Klein purchased the rights and he paid Klein but who's counting?) I guess the moral of the story is, if you're going to steal something from someone, make sure you have the money to pay for it if you get caught. Then keep selling it for as long as you can until you break even and eventually turn a profit.

I personally don't find either of these songs to be all that good or inspiring (so many better George tracks out there), but I was excited to learn that Harrison actually had the Edwin Hawkins Singers' "Oh Happy Day" in mind when he wrote his track. I actually think that makes a lot of sense because the two songs seem to have a common vibe that links them even more strongly than the identical melodies and chord progressions of "My Sweet Lord" and "He's So Fine." That being said, let's turn this into a TRIPLE PLAY TWOSDAY! I actually think this song is better than either of the two that are the subject of this post. So there.

Song #82 of 9999

Title: Oh Happy Day
Artist: Edwin Hawkins Singers
Year: 1967
Album: Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord