• Fred

Plagiarism 101


Let me elaborate, if you will, my disdain for today's country music.

Back in the day, the Johnny Cashes, Merle Haggards, and Hank Williams' were all real country. A cousin of Rock 'n' Roll, country music was simply just a branch from the same musical tree.

Today Country Music is a diluted version of itself. The light, sing-songy country music on corporate iHeartRadio radio stations is the country equivalent of light rock, one notch above elevator music.

And let me give you an example of my theory:

In 1980 Roky Erikson & The Aliens came out with the album The Evil One (plus one)

Their lead single was a song called Two Headed Dog. I never heard the original version of the song until YouTube existed. Here is Exhibit A:

In 1992, I was a Gary Floyd fan and came across the cover song Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog) by Floyd's band Sister Double Happiness. It was one of my favorite songs in my youth. They didn't steal the song, it was on the Roky Erickson Tribute Album Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye.

Gary Floyd's amazing vocals and bluesier interpretation gave the original a new life. (In hindsight.)

Now despite still being a fairly obscure song, I don't think the song hit the mainstream until the Foo Fighters covered it for an episode of Austin City Limits and made it an extra on their Sonic Highways release. Your favorite version of Two Headed Dog probably has to do with your age. I would fathom a guess that the Foos contribution is the one most well known to the masses.

Now I have never, ever, heard Two Headed Dog on the radio. No version of the song on any radio station. Now just because it's never been on the radio, doesn't mean the song is any less awesome.....

....so I'm sitting at my desk at work and my boss was torturing the office with country music from local affiliate WGAR. When he wasn't looking I turned the volume down to a barely discernible level. After hours of tuning out the music, my ears perked up TWO HEADED DOG! I jumped out of my seat and turned up the radio.

Wait a minute. WHAT IS THIS SHIT?

At barely audible levels, I didn't hear Turnin' Me On, I heard Two Headed Dog. Because I wasn't listening to the words, I heard the melody. And because at the end, Shelton beats the refrain into the ground as the music fades, I heard it over and over.

Now I honestly don't think Blake Shelton actively plagiarized Two Headed Dog. I think he may have heard the song and a bit of the melody stuck with him. As an artist (ahem), he took that melody that he heard and subconsciously created a crappy, syrupy ode to Gwen Stefani.

But his indiscretion, however unintentional, highlights the problem with Modern Country. It was like Shelton took a skeleton of melody and watered it down to its most basic and simple level. He created pablum.

And the song became a Top 20 hit on the Country Chart on an album that was the #1 Country Album in the Nation.

I don't think there is enough of a case for Erickson to sue Shelton, and he shouldn't.

That's not what I'm trying to say. I'm, I'm exasperated....

I just looked online at the songwriting credits and it took 3 people to write Turnin' Me On!

Unless you're Slim Cessna, country sucks.

Two-Headed Dog Chorus

[Chorus] Two-headed dog, two-headed dog I've been working in the Kremlin With a two-headed dog Two-headed dog, two-headed dog I've been working in the Kremlin With a two-headed dog Two-headed dog, two-headed dog I've been working in the Kremlin With a two-headed dog Two-headed dog, two-headed dog I've been working in the Kremlin With a two-headed dog

Turnin' Me On Chorus

[Chorus]

Turning me on, turning me on Turning me on, turning me on Turning me on, turning me on (Turning me, turning me, turning me, turning me, turning me on Oooh, oooh, oooh Turning me, turning me, turning me, turning me, turning me on Oooh, oooh, oooh Turning me, turning me, turning me, turning me, turning me on Oooh, oooh, oooh)

3 people to write that? Over a Roky Erickson melody?


0 views