You may of heard over the past few months or so about Led Zeppelin being sued for allegedly ripping off a song called `Taurus` by a band called Spirit. The band have now hit back claiming that there is no copyright infringement whatsoever.
Yes, there is small similarity in the opening chord progression between the two songs, but it wasn`t Spirit who first created this chord progression. If you listen to a lot of classical music you will occasionally hear the descending minor chromatic chord tones underneath the progression.
It`s an interesting case and if the lawsuit goes ahead, well a big can of worms could be opened up for other artists around the world.
There are a lot of other songs that are much more direct rip-offs of other songs than `Stairway to Heaven` and it`s funny as to the best of my knowledge none of these cases have been to court.
Why is that?
Well, I reckon one of the main reasons is the most of these artists are still alive and understand that creative borrowing is something that happens.
Even Lennon and McCartney would admit to taking a song by an artist they admired and changing it around so it sounded like a Beatles song. Writing with a completly blank canvas can be a diffiuclt thing to do, and often even for the best songwriters it`s inspiration that starts the spark of the song wrting process.
Also, why 44 years after the song has been released are Led Zepellin only now getting sued?
Interesting, I`m guessing unless the guys from Spirit lived under soundproofed rock in the middle of Kashmir, they would have heard Stairway, and I`m sure if the song was a rip-off of their track `Taurus` they themselves would have done the suing.
Instead, it`s some gentleman named Michael Skidmore who is doing the suing who is NOT a member of the band but a trustee.
An interesting thing to remember is that these days most noteworthy recorded music from the past 50 years or so is somewhere on the net, and somewhere someone can connect the dots between two pieces sounding alike. They can then spread the word and call the original artists `pirating pieces of sh*t` as I have just seen these guys called.
In fact, the truth often is that back then, so many artists wouldn`t have had access to the vast amount of music we have these days, and accidents did happen. Ideas that sounded cool had been created before and ended up on records made 1000`s of miles apart. By the time someone realised there was a similiarty it was often too late or the similiary was too small for anyone to care about.
Take a listen to the crap that mainstream radio produces these days. It`s like an assembly line of I-V-VI-IV chord progression songs, but because that progression isn`t a distinctive as the decsending minor chormatic sequence these farmhouse songwriters aren`t given any grief.
Anyway, I reckon there is a similarity but there are a lot more songs that are blatant rip-offs out there than Stairway. And anyway, as cool as the Spirit song is, which it is a fine piece, it defintely is no `Stairway`.
Stairway is an awesome journey of a song that not many other songs are able to take the listener on. Although not a prog rock band in the obvious sense, many of prog rocks finest attributes are all there in one stunning song.
If you ever worry about writing a song, riff or melody and having it sound like something similar, check out my upcoming post for some tips that will ensure you sound just like you and not like anyone else.
If you are talking about plagarism, you could do a search for Green Day`s `Warning` and The Kinks `Picture Book` or simply watch this compilation of the world`s best rip-off compilation ever.
Take a listen to both songs and leave a comment letting me know your thoughts on the similarities between the two. I`d love to know what you think on the matter.