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On what the meaning of the word 'by' is

Jim Dixon 20 Jan 11 - 03:10 PM
Dave MacKenzie 20 Jan 11 - 03:22 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Jan 11 - 03:27 PM
GUEST,mg 20 Jan 11 - 03:55 PM
Joe Offer 20 Jan 11 - 03:59 PM
GUEST,PeterC 20 Jan 11 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,Grishka 20 Jan 11 - 04:20 PM
GUEST,Grishka 20 Jan 11 - 04:35 PM
Amos 20 Jan 11 - 04:46 PM
Joe Offer 20 Jan 11 - 04:47 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Jan 11 - 05:34 PM
Joe_F 20 Jan 11 - 05:59 PM
maple_leaf_boy 20 Jan 11 - 06:19 PM
Richard Bridge 20 Jan 11 - 06:23 PM
Joybell 20 Jan 11 - 06:32 PM
Dave MacKenzie 20 Jan 11 - 07:57 PM
Don Firth 20 Jan 11 - 09:22 PM
MGM·Lion 20 Jan 11 - 11:56 PM
Leadfingers 21 Jan 11 - 07:18 AM
Fidjit 21 Jan 11 - 07:29 AM
Jim Dixon 21 Jan 11 - 09:38 AM
Dave MacKenzie 21 Jan 11 - 11:06 AM
mayomick 21 Jan 11 - 11:38 AM
MGM·Lion 21 Jan 11 - 11:51 AM
MGM·Lion 21 Jan 11 - 12:08 PM
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Subject: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 03:10 PM

I repeatedly see requests like this:

"Do you have the lyrics to A BOY NAMED SUE, by Johnny Cash?"

or

"Does anyone have the chords to CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, by Arlo Guthrie?"

I used to think people did this out of ignorance—that they somehow had the mistaken belief that Johnny Cash wrote A BOY NAMED SUE, that Arlo Guthrie wrote CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, etc. I would try to correct them: "Johnny Cash recorded A BOY NAMED SUE but he didn't write it."

Once, when I did this, the requestor protested: "I didn't say he did write it."*

OK, fair enough, the questioner didn't use the word "write" but he said A BOY NAMED SUE was "by" Johnny Cash. That implies he wrote it, doesn't it?

But it finally sunk in that people weren't necessarily making mistakes about authorship. They were simply using the word "by" differently than I did. They were using "by" to mean "performed by" while I thought it obviously ought to mean only "written by."

Funny, you don't encounter this problem in other fields. You don't hear people say, "I saw Richard III by Ian McKellen" or "Death of a Salesman by Dustin Hoffman"—do you?

I guess it's only in music that people are accustomed to not giving writers and composers any credit, and think that only the performer matters, and that a song somehow "belongs to" the singer whose recording sold the most copies.

Come to think of it, they don't do it in classical music, either. People might say "I have a recording of Vladimir Horowitz playing Pictures at an Exhibition" but they would never say "I have a recording of Pictures at an Exhibition by Vladimir Horowitz."

Well, I think it's a shame that songwriters aren't given credit. That's why I think people should not say that a certain song was "by" a certain person unless they know for a fact that that person wrote the song. I'm afraid I'm fighting a losing battle, though.

I try to give credit to the songwriter whenever I post lyrics to a song.

Where I tend to get into trouble is when the song is unfamiliar to me, and somebody asks about, say, "JONESBORO BLUES by Elton Conroy" and, without questioning it, I assume they mean that Elton Conroy wrote JONESBORO BLUES, and I assume they know what they're talking about, and so I forget to check. Then, if I find the lyrics at another web site—where, as likely as not, it will say "JONESBORO BLUES by Elton Conroy"—I sometimes copy and paste whatever I find, thus perpetuating the problem.

I hate when that happens.

Just this week, I ran across two old threads where I made this mistake, which is what prompted me to start this thread.

____

* I could have replied, with equal justification: "I didn't say you did say he wrote it"—but I didn't. You know how those things go.


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 03:22 PM

"I have a recording of Pictures at an Exhibition by Kazuhito Yamashita."

The implication is that it was recorded by Kazuhito Yamashita. If I wanted to include the composer I would say Mussorsky's Pictures....


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 03:27 PM

Good points.
I get sloppy myself (don't we all?), and at times I tend to be 'cryptic' (as I once was told), paring too close to the bone on language and leaving out necessary modifiers.


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 03:55 PM

I think the culture I am in means this song is made famous by, recorded by etc. Usually..some exceptions. Depends on who you are talking to.   mg


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 03:59 PM

The Digital Tradition standard is to put the name of the songwriter in parentheses on the line under the title, and the title should be ALLCAPS. In general, the DT attributions are fairly accurate, although there are some mistakes. We have an Attributions PermaThread for handling corrections to the DT.

But the word "by" in other lyrics sources (and on the radio), often means the person who recorded the song, not the songwriter. Some lyrics in our Forum are copy-pasted from "those" lyrics Websites, so you have to be careful - and there's no way to ensure uniformity in the Forum on this.

For lyrics transcribed from a recording, I like to put "from the singing of so-and so" or "collected by so-and-so."

If the name of a songwriter is discovered after lyrics have been posted, I've taken to adding the name in parentheses, and putting it (and other corrections) in the brown moderator font. Once lyrics in the Forum are reviewed and fit for harvesting, I change the song title to allcaps, big, bold.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 04:01 PM

"I have a recording of Pictures at an Exhibition by Kazuhito Yamashita."

A recording is "by" the artist. The lyrics or music are "by" the composer.

Chords implies to me a particular musician's arrangement.


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 04:20 PM

It was a marketing strategy for pop music in the last century, collectively launched by the record companies and their DJs, aimed at teenagers who indeed were made to think the person depicted on the cover was the author. Or rather, the concept of authorship was not known at all and did not seem to matter, the song was just identified with the "star". If asked for the participle to go with "by", teenagers would (usually correctly) answer "sung".

Nowadays, the kids don't believe in Santa any more. There used to be "scandals" about "singers" who actually didn't sing – this no longer worries young people at all.


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 04:35 PM

PS: The guitarist Kazuhito Yamashita did not only play the "Pictures" (written by Mussorgsky for piano), but arranged them for himself in a very creative way, so the result is "by" him to a large degree.

Rossini once heard a singer sing an aria from his "Barber". She took great liberties – as she would be entitled to do by convention. After the concert, Rossini said to her "That was a nice aria you sang; who was the composer?"


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Amos
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 04:46 PM

I share the peeve in respect of famous quotations that are attributed to some half-wit (who is famous only for being famous) and who quotes something which his adoring fans thereafter attribute to him. Makes it hard to trace a quote back to origin if you are uncertain whence it came.


A


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 04:47 PM

Even some of the very old sheet music in the Levy Sheet Music Collection is identified with the performer instead of with the composer. The Carter Family claimed everything they ever recorded - it might be more correct to say that Ralph Peer claimed it for them. Richie's Carter Family Songs: Summary of Sources PermaThread proves otherwise.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 05:34 PM

A recording of Mussorgsky's , arranged and played by Kazuhito Yamashita, removes some of the ambiguity in citation of the item concerned.

Jim Dixon is correct; we should try to be accurate to avoid confusion.
To me, as to Jim Dixon, the citation ""City of New Orleans" by Arlo Guthrie" means that he composed it, and therefore is an error by the person who posted it.


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Joe_F
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 05:59 PM

The even vaguer construction "an Arlo Guthrie song" probably means one that he has often performed rather than one he wrote. And "an X movie" almost always means one that X acted in or (possibly) that X directed -- almost never one that X wrote the script for.

From my very marginal position, this looks like a lot of foolishness. It shows that people take performers far too seriously, probably because they are very visible & thus easy to identify with.


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: maple_leaf_boy
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 06:19 PM

In a movie's credits it said "Scarborough Fair" written and performed by
Simon and Garfunkel. If it's a traditional song, it should say
"arranged by", not "written by". They obviously didn't write the song,
yet I don't understand why people credit them as doing so.


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 06:23 PM

Maple Leaf Boy - there is a long and hostile history to that


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Joybell
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 06:32 PM

Thanks, Jim. This has driven me crazy for about 40 years. I have no problem with "the song that .... does/sings/recorded". That's clear enough.
A bit off the track -- I constantly notice wrongly (in my view) accredited songs when I'm singing somewhere and people ask for requests. I always gently correct them and it often gets me into amazing discussions. The strangest claim about authorship was the lady who told me that "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" was written by a mother when she first saw her new-born baby.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 07:57 PM

This is how I've catalogued the LP:

Kazuhito Yamashita – Modest Mussorsky : Pictures At An Exhibition – RCA Red Seal Digital Ulstein Music RL 14203

further down I have:

Lazar Berman – Modest Mussorsky : Pictures at an Exhibition ; Sergej Prokofiev : Romeo und Julia op. 75 – Deutsche Grammophon Signature 2543 526––10

As for song words, this is "Me & Bobby McGee":

By Kris Kristofferson. As sung on Monument LP SMO 5042 "Kristofferson" (MNT 64631 "Me and Bobby McGee").

This is "City of New Orleans"

By Steve Goodman. As sung by Willie Nelson on CBS cassette 40-26135, "City of New Orleans".

This is "Fanny by Gaslight"

From the version printed in "The Singing Irish" edited by Dominic Behan, p 41.


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 09:22 PM

Critic's comment:

"Last night on his television show, Liberace played Schubert. Schubert lost."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 11:56 PM

===It was a marketing strategy for pop music in the last century, collectively launched by the record companies and their DJs===
···
Older than that, indeed. Certainly goes back as far as MusicHall/Vaudeville, as in "Marie Lloyd's 'My Old Man'", &c.

On another, just refreshed thread "Songs your mother sang to you", I have just noticed a ref to "Maurice Chevalier's 'Thank Heaven For Little Girls'".

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 07:18 AM

Correct attribution is something I have been plugging (Along with several friends) in the local Folk Club scene for YEARS .


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Fidjit
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 07:29 AM

Like the lost chord. The word most unused in these cases is. Version.

Chas


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 09:38 AM

"Romeo and Julia"? I doubt it. ;)


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 11:06 AM

You're right, Jim. It's not 'Romeo and Julia' on the sleeve, it's 'Romeo und Julia', as I said. However, the quadrilingual sleeve notes also give 'Romeo and Juliet' (English), 'Romeo et Juliette' (French) and 'Romeo e Giulietta' (Italian).


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: mayomick
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 11:38 AM

I think it does depend on the genre . In pop music the composer isn't really so important because the song itself usually isn't as important as the performer .

That Freddie and the Dreamers song , I'm in Love with you... the song Bits and Pieces by the Dave Clarke Five. In either case I doubt if the composer would care so long as he was getting the royalties .

I read an interview with the man who set up the Eden Project in Cornwall   - I don't remember his name   .He said that he had financed the project from the royalties from a very successful song he had written sometime in the seventies , but declined to name the song saying that he was far too embarrassed .


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 11:51 AM

'Tim Smit KBE (born 1954) is a Dutch-born British businessman, famous for his work on the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project, both in Cornwall, England.
He studied archaeology and anthropology at Durham. He worked as an archaeologist before taking an unexpected leap into the music business, working as both a song-writer and producer receiving seven platinum and gold discs. Contrary to many reports he was not a 'millionaire record producer'. He had modest success in Europe with an album called 'Midnight Blue - a Project with Louise Tucker'. Other than that, he was jobbing record producer / songwriter / arranger.' Wikipedia
===
For interest, this would seem to be the person noted above by mayomick.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: On what the meaning of the word 'by' is
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 12:08 PM

See also recent posts on ongoing thread re Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, about how words & music attribd to same man but under two different pseudonyms...

~M~


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