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Hank Williams & plagiarism

04 Oct 11 - 11:24 AM (#3233692)
Subject: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: GUEST,bernieandred

With the imminent release of the "Lost Notebooks" CD, is this a good time to look at Hank's songwriting? There seem to be hints from various sources, that Acuff Rose had quite a bit of input with his compositions. was this simply editing? More importantly, I just found out when doing some reasearch on the Williams classic "Cold Cold Heart",
that the melody was taken 100% from an earlier composition by T Texas Tyler, called "You'll Still Be In My Heart". I understand it was even settled out of court. Of course melodies are often used time & again in country music, but often these are folk or trad. melodies. This is more of a "composed" melody. Comments Mudcatters???

04 Oct 11 - 11:51 AM (#3233703)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: pdq

Louisana governor Jimmy Davis paid people a modest amount of money, then took writing credit on most of his songs. Woodie Guthrie never wrote a melody in his life and the Carter Family relentlessly rewrote older songs and changed melodies to get their material.

Still, "Shackles and Chains", "Little Annie" and "Pastures of Plenty" are all great songs despite their semi-legitimate births. "Cold, Cold Heart" is a classic too.

04 Oct 11 - 12:11 PM (#3233717)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: GUEST,Emberto Uco

yep, that'll be that age old creative 'folk process' still at work throughout the mid 20th century...

.. profiteering media accountants & lawyers however, may hold a different view ???

04 Oct 11 - 12:50 PM (#3233736)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: Sandy Mc Lean

While Hank was a great songwriter and singer, perhaps the greatest, he didn't write the music notation. He would sing the song strumming his guitar to Fred Rose who would then do the birdtracks. No doubt that Rose refined the words and the air in many instances but it was born in Hank's heart. It was a great partnership!

04 Oct 11 - 08:08 PM (#3233991)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: Bert

It works both ways. "Rock around the clock" is pretty much a copy of "Move it on over"

04 Oct 11 - 08:21 PM (#3234000)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: catspaw49

On the plus side, Hank Sr. was never thrown off Monday Night Football............


05 Oct 11 - 03:26 AM (#3234133)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)

There was a feature on the BBC Radio 4 'Today' programme just now on the 'Lost Notebooks' project. Sounds pretty good.

05 Oct 11 - 04:35 AM (#3234149)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: David C. Carter

I heard that 'Today' programme too.
Like you say Chris B...Sounds pretty good.


05 Oct 11 - 07:46 AM (#3234208)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: banjoman

Heard the article on radio4. Made me dig out my HW records and listen again. Still great as they were 50 years ago

05 Oct 11 - 12:27 PM (#3234308)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: The Sandman

05 Oct 11 - 12:47 PM (#3234328)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: Stringsinger

"Lovesick Blues" was lifted from Emmett Miller of South Georgia. It was sung at the Opry while Miller was indigent in Georgia.

The music business is full of plagiarism, lifting or nicking songs, changing a note or two here and there such as with "Delta Dawn" which is the tune for the spiritual "Come and Go With Me To That Land".

The tunes that defy copying are generally those of the past well-known "show" writers such as Kern, Berlin, Gershwin, Porter et. al. Even the lyrics of those have been nicked by pop lyricists of today.

One of the things that makes a pop song successful is its familiarity which can be said for
folk songs as well.

Almost all of the Nashville country songs are derived from earlier sources.

05 Oct 11 - 01:20 PM (#3234354)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: Bonzo3legs

How many pop songs between 1958 & 1964 had the same chord sequence as Teenager in Love I wonder?? And how many different songs are based on Dust my Broom???

05 Oct 11 - 01:22 PM (#3234357)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: BTNG

Have you any idea how many versions of As I Walked Out On A May Morning, there are?

05 Oct 11 - 04:42 PM (#3234486)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: The Sandman


24 Mar 16 - 01:47 PM (#3780864)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: GUEST,Jd

Move It On Over has the exact same tune as Kansas City Blues, from the year 1926.

24 Mar 16 - 04:18 PM (#3780906)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: PHJim

They're Red Hot - Robert Johnson
Bring It On Home - Pink Anderson?
Hey Babe You Wanna Boogie - John Hartford
Alice's Restaurant - Arlo Guthrie
and except for the bridge
Ja-Da - Bob Carleton (made a hit by Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards)

All of these tunes have the same changes and similar melodies.

|C   |A   |D G |C G |C   |A   |D   |G   |
|C   |C7 |F   |F#° |C   |A   |D G |C   ||

Bridge for Ja-Da
|C D7|G7 |C D7|G7 |

24 Mar 16 - 08:30 PM (#3780954)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism

Here is another 2 tunes that ended up in a lawsuit
(When you wore a tulip a big yellow tulip and I wore a big red rose)

(When you drove a Buick a big yellow Buick and I drove a little red Ford) Same Chords Same tune

Gene Autry and Jimmie Rodgers had a couple of clashes over some tunes that was settled with a hand shake

Another tune Blown In The Wind believed to be written by a Negro in 1863 during the Civil War and then came out as a new song in 1963

If you shut your eyes and lean back and listen you can her this Negro
asking many roads will a man walk down
How many seas will the white dove sail
How many years will the cannon ball fly before it's forever banned
How many times will a man look up
How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry

How many years will a MT exist
before it is washed to the sea
How many years will people exist before they are allowed to be free

Try it sometime with your eyes closed and relaxed you can hear this Negro asking for answes and peace

24 Mar 16 - 08:52 PM (#3780957)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: GUEST,Louie Roy

I'm the guest that posted the last thread my mudcat name had been erased

24 Mar 16 - 11:33 PM (#3780981)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: PHJim

There are a lot of songs that use common verses. Some are PD and some are claimed by composers.

About 1970, I bought a record by Lonnie Johnson and Elmer Snowden where one of the blues verses was:
"If you don't like my peaches, Baby don't you shake my tree,
Get outa my orchard and let my peaches be."
I've heard this verse since then in several blues, rockabilly and bluegrass tunes. I went to Google and found this info:

The 'peaches' verse has a long history in popular music. It appears as the chorus of an unpublished song composed by Irving Berlin in May 1914: "If you don't want my peaches / You'd better stop shaking my tree".
The song "Mamma's Got the Blues", written by Clarence Williams and S. Martin and recorded by Bessie Smith in 1923, has the line: "If you don't like my peaches then let my orchard be".
In her version of "St. Louis Blues", Ella Fitzgerald sang, "If you don't like my peaches, why do you shake my tree? / Stay out of my orchard, and let my peach tree be".
In 1929 Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded "Peach Orchard Mama" ("... you swore nobody'd pick your fruit but me / I found three kid men shaking down your peaches free")...

A bit more Googling found the words to the Irving Berlin song, not a blues:

Mary Snow had a beau
Who was bashful and shy
She simply couldn't make the boy propose
No matter how she'd try
Mary grew tired of waiting
So she called her beau one side
While he stood there biting his fingernails
Mary cried:

If you don't want my peaches
You'd better stop shaking my tree

Let me say that you're mighty slow
You're as cold as an Eskimo

There's a thousand others waiting
Waiting to propose to me

So, if you don't want my peaches
You'd better stop shaking my tree"

Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys sang:

You don't like my peaches, don't you shake my tree
Get out of my orchard, let my peaches be
Now she's gone and I don't worry
Cause I'm sittin' on top of the world.

The Beatles' version of Carl Perkins' Matchbox included this verse:

Well, if you don't want my peaches, honey
Please don't shake my tree
If you don't want any of those peaches honey
Please don't mess around my tree
I got news for you baby
Leave me here in misery

"Plagiarism" or "The Folk Process"?

25 Mar 16 - 03:57 AM (#3781012)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: Leadfingers

Stealing from only one source is plagiarism - Staeling from a wide variety of sources is research

03 Apr 16 - 11:11 AM (#3783058)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism

I was just going to mention the expression "To steal from one is plagiarism, to steal from many is research" but someone has just beaten me to it.

There is a whole book on musical theft/borrowing, called "One For the Money" by (?British) music journalist Clintin Heylin, who has written a number of books, including one called "Behind the Shades" about Bob Dylan. There are 2 basic premises in the book (1) The phenomenon has been going on for years, from at least the beginning of musical recordings (b) The more creative people people (e.g. Dylan) steal more creatively. Therefore it is a necessary evil. Well worth reading.

It mentions Blowing in the Wind but the theory is that Dylan was at least sub-consciously influenced by "No More Auction Block". When Pete Seeger first heard the song, this was his theory anyway (if my memory serves me right). Someone else (whose I forget, though he was a young American singer) actually claimed for a while that he had written the song rather than Dylan, although admitted years later that this was not the case.

Seeger's most famous song, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, seems to have been largely copied from a Russian Folk song (at least lyrically) according to the book.

The line "If you don't like my peaches, stop shaking my tree" appears in the song "Hesitation Blues" as performed by the Holy Modal Rounders on their first album; however I assume the song is a much older one (I think all but one of the songs are traditional on this double album). The phrase sounds a bit like a double entendre (if I see a double entendre, I always whip it out).

As a very amateur singer and songwriter, I try not to copy another song or tune but I am sure it is difficult not to do this sub-consciously. One song (called "Elder Blossom") turned out, after I wrote it, to sound musically very similar to the Hare Krishna Chant ("Hare Krisha, Hare Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, Hare Rama", etc) so even though the songs have never been recorded and only get performed at local "Open Mics", usually with only a few dozen people at most present, I have to watch out in case there are any shaven headed people with orange robes in the audience! (Of course being spiritual and anti-materialistic they would hardly be the sort to hire sharp lawyers - would they?

I could claim this was just a coincidence and perhaps get away with it but would be on very shaky ground with the chorus of another song (a light-hearted song about Suicide called "Don't Try This at Home") which for its chorus uses almost verbatim the words of a very short poem, written c. 1926 by the writer Dorothy Parker (one of the so-called Algonquin Wits who used to stay at the Algonquin Hotel in New York). The poem is pronounced called "RESUMAY" (actually spelled like Resume but I can't do an acute accent at the end of the "e") and goes as follows (my additional bits are in brackets):

(Oh) Razors (they) pain you
(And) Rivers are Damp
Acids (they) Stain You
And Pills (they) cause cramp
*Guns (they) aren't lawful
(And) Nooses (they) give
(And) Gas (it) smells awful
You might as well live

* odd this was written in the U.S.A.!

I also used the words of a very short poem (either written by Ezra Poundd or Arthur Eddington) in the first verse of a song called "The Brainy Baboon", which is based on the erroneous theory that if you left a crowd of monkeys together with a typewriter, given enough time they would produce the complete works of Shakespeare (I think "The X-Factor" and "Britain's Got Talent" is based on the same premise):

There once was a brainy Baboon
Who always breathed down a bassoon
For he said, it appears, that in billions of years
I shall certainly hit on a tune

I won't bother with the rest of the song here, except to say that the baboon ends up as Prime Minister.

Parker once wrote that the thought of suicide got you through many a bad night (meaning if things get really bad, you can always end it all). She is perhaps best known for saying, on being told that President Calvin Coolidge had died, "How Can They Tell?"

The writer H.L. Mencken (who would have been a contemporary of Parker) thought a lot of suicides were committed for rather trivial reasons - his argument was that it was worth hanging on for another Coolidge to appear (Mencken I think found Coolidge and other contemporary politicians a source of amusement).

My last verse in "Don't do This at Home" goes:

So if things are looking a little bit rough
Just say to yourself "I've got to be tough"
For if by our own hand, we sadly had died
We'd have missed Madonna's fall on her backside!

The last line refers to an event which happened in February 2015 when Madonna fell while performing on stage.

In the interests of balance, Coolidge didn't lack a sense of humour himself as the following examples indioate(the wording may not be exact:

"The American people want a solemn ass as President - I think I'll go along with that".

When told by a young girl that her father had bet that she couldn't get three words out of him, said to her "Pappa Wins."

On another occasion Coolidge and his wife were being shown separately around a chicken farm. His wife was shown a cockerel who apparently mated dozen of times a day, and she said to the farmer "Tell that to the President." When the President was told about the energetic cockerel, he asked "Same Hen or different Hens?" and was told "Different Hens", whereupon he said "Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge".

These stories may well be exaggerated or even apocryphal; so many well-known and widely believed stories seem to be just that, e.g. George Washington never chopped down his father's Cherry tree and said to his father "I cannot tell a lie" (If he couldn't tell a lie, he had no business in politics!); Marie Antoinette didn't say "Let Them Eat Cake" (or if so wasn't the first to use this expression) and the quote about Voltaire defending to the death someone else's right to say something he disagreed with was apparently made up about 1900 long after Voltaire's death. Furthermore, William Tell, King Arthur and Robin Wood probably didn't exist, at least not in the form commonly believed; Lady Godiva existed but the story about her riding naked through the streets of Coventry appears long after her death and emanates from an unreliable source. I could go on and on.

At least we know that Lincoln did give the Gettysburg address.

26 Jun 16 - 02:42 AM (#3797739)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: GUEST,Copycat

Hank Williams copied the melody of Jim Jackson's "Kansas City Blues" (1926) for "Move It On Over", "Mind Your Own Business", and "Honky Tonk Blues".

26 Jun 16 - 02:54 PM (#3797812)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: Stringsinger

The tune for Blowin' In the Wind is based on the traditional spiritual, No More Auction Block For Me.

Stravinsky said he never plagiarized. He downright stole.

Guess what, that's what folk music does, the reason there are so many variants
of one song. Only difference is that in the 60's, some pro folkies claimed copyrights on trad songs for money. I was surprised to find that Lou Gottlieb of the Limelight's wrote "Rock About My Saro Jane". On the flip side of the argument, no large percentage of the public would ever had heard "Tom Dooley" if it hadn't been for the Kingston Trio who put the hiccup in the "hang down your head Tom......" which popularized the song. BTW they got their version indirectly from the Folksay Trio, Erik Darling, Bob Carey and Roger Sprung on Asch/Stinson Records in the 50's. Derroll Adams was cheated out of his due royalties by John Stewart of the KT.

Music business is shit.

26 Jun 16 - 03:19 PM (#3797817)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism

Annoys me when corporations own the rights to songs.
The only notes they care about are bank ones.
They are everything that (folk) music isn't. Horrible people.

26 Jun 16 - 05:44 PM (#3797867)
Subject: RE: Hank Williams & plagiarism
From: beeliner

Compare Johnny Cash's "Train of Love" and Buddy Knox's "Storm Clouds", both from the fifties, nearly identical melodies and they even share a line of lyrics, "I've got ways of knowin'."