Musical Opinions (May 2023)
Updated: May 8
Yesterday Ed Sheeran won the copyright case against Ed Townsend's money grubbing heirs. Not Townsend himself, who died 20 years ago, but his heirs, who claim that some crappy Ed Sheeran song sounded like Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On, which Townsend co-wrote. I hate sticking up for Sheeran, but in this specific case, he is 100% right. Every. Single. Word.
I am obviously very happy with the outcome of the case, and it looks like I’m not going to have to retire from my day job after all – but, at the same time, I am unbelievably frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all.
We have spent the last eight years talking about two songs with dramatically different lyrics, melodies and four chords which are also different and used by songwriters every day, all over the world.
These chords are common building blocks which were used to create music long before “Let’s Get It On” was written and will be used to make music long after we are all gone. They are a songwriter’s ‘alphabet’, our tool kit and should be there for us all to use. No-one owns them or the way they are played, in the same way, nobody owns the colour blue.
Unfortunately, unfounded claims like this one are being fueled by individuals who are offered as experts in musical analysis. In this instance, the other side’s musicologist left out words and notes, presented simple (and different) pitches as melody, creating misleading comparisons and disinformation to find supposed similarities where none exist. They tried to manipulate my and Amy’s song to try to convince the jury that they had a genuine claim, and I am very grateful that the jury saw through those attempts. This seems so dangerous to me, both for potential claimants who may be convinced to bring a bogus claim, as well as those songwriters facing them. It is simply wrong. By stopping this practice, we can also properly support genuine music copyright claims so that legitimate claims are rightly heard and resolved.
If the Jury had decided this matter the other way, we might as well say goodbye to the creative freedom of songwriters. We need to be able to write our original music and engage in independent creation without worrying at every step of the way that such creativity will be wrongly called into question. Like artists everywhere, Amy and I work hard to independently create songs which are often based around real-life, personal experiences. It is devastating to be accused of stealing other people’s songs when we have put so much work into our livelihoods.
I am just a guy with a guitar who loves writing music for people to enjoy. I am not and will never allow myself to be a piggy bank for anyone to shake. Having to be in New York for this trial has meant that I have missed being with my family at my grandmother’s funeral in Ireland. I won’t get that time back.
These trials take a significant toll on everybody involved, including Kathryn Townsend Griffin.
I want to thank the jury for making a decision that will help to protect the creative process of songwriters here in the United States and around the world.
I also want to thank my team who has supported me throughout this difficult process and to all the songwriters, musicians and fans who reached out with messages of support over the last few weeks.
Finally, I want to thank Amy Wadge. Neither of us ever expected that 9 years on from our wonderful writing session that we would be here having to defend our integrity. Amy, I feel so lucky to have you in my life.
We need songwriters and the wider musical community to come together to bring back common sense. These claims need to be stopped so that the creative process can carry on, and we can all just go back to making music. At the same time, we absolutely need trusted individuals, real experts who help support the process of protecting copyright. Thank you."
I would like to dedicate a song to the 3 remaining original members Mötley Crüe:
Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away). Tommy Lee, Nikki Sixx, and Vince Neil are, at best, navel gazers. At worst, as Mick Mars would say, they are felons.
I saw an article that Pachinko is popular again. Pachinko? You mean the Alternative Tentacles' Pachinko?
No. Apparently a band called P-A-N-C-H-I-K-O.
SPIN Magazine - Meet Panchiko: The Band That Struck Gold 20 Years After Its Demise. Really?
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that NoMeansNo's John Wright put out a solo album last week under the moniker of Dead Bob. Just Breathe captures the aesthetic of peak NoMeansNo.
(Editor's Note: Luckily no one reads Beacon of Speech, so we are going to whisper this last section so no one hears.)
Even if I can't hear very well anymore, I still enjoy reading about music. That Mötley Crüe opinion at the top? Nothing to do with music. That all has to do with human nature and band dynamics.
With that being said, we here at Beacon of Speech also have a disdain for the pop sensibilities of Taylor Swift, just like we don't enjoy the pablum of Ed Sheeran.
Her fans want the Romantic Version of Taylor Swift. They want her to find someone nice to sing beautiful duets with after a long, arduous journey with the "wrong" ones. The Army wants someone like Kenny Rogers.
Taylor Swift, arguably the biggest pop star on the planet, wants to be spun around and have her brains f@cked out. She wants a bad, bad boy. She obviously can't say that, or she'd alienate 90% of her fans. But when it comes to her love life, at this point in her career, Taylor Swift is basically Madonna or Cher.
Enter Matt Healy.
You're crying at the use of my crass language and argue that John Mayer was her bad boy? Big difference between Douche John Mayer and Live Wire Matt Healy.
Few artists are productive across their lifetimes. Mötley Crüe were amazing metal artists for about 15 years, then lived off of their reputations for the next 30.
In her mid-thirties, and 10 albums in, how much is left in the Taylor Swift Tank? Matt Healy could be her muse to re-invigorate her creative energy, or maybe she'll discover partying and substance abuse is more fun than music and we'll get 30-40 years of greatest hits tours.
Or, maybe, just maybe, we'll get a decadent Taylor Swift phase. Taylor Swift channeling her inner Dirrty Christina Aguilera.
Would Taylor Swift gain enough male fans to offset the female fans that she'd lose?
Addendum: 1 Day Later
Daily Mail: Ed Sheeran Candidly Opens Up About Decade-Long Friendship w/ Taylor Swift