The Plagiarist Chronicles -

Merely Co-Incidental Duplication or Blatant Rip-Off?

A short list of hit songs by various artists that are notably similar to a particular Beatles/Post-Beatles hit record and were written within 5± years of the original recording (in question)

  1. Paperback Re-Writer (Last Train to Theftsville)

    Paperback Writer - '66 / The Last Train to Clarksville - '67

    Merely "aping" what they couldn't conceive of on their own - (least of all in a song supposedly about Vietnam - Who knew?) The Monkees' (the original equivalent of One Direction - but with instruments) first hit The Last Train to Clarksville was released only 3 months after the Beatles' chart-topping Paperback Writer, and overall - from the song's conception down to the vocal and instrumental arrangements - or in this case re-arrangements - is a fairly blatant 'Paperback' rewrite!

    NOTE: the credited composers of the song, tune-jackers-extraordinaire Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart have successfully reprocessed the original product in a package that's just different enough to avoid copyright infringement - having thereby committed the perfect musical crime lol.

  2. For No One ... except possibly Graham Nash

    For No One - 1966 / Our House - 1969

    The Baroque harpsichord featuring similar instrumental accompanyment style, the same harmonic structure over a carbon-copy descending bassline, the succinct phraseology of the somewhat meandering yet terse melody - a classic tune with impeccable vocal solo! 2 entirely different tunes ... right?

    Well, other than a more-upbeat contextual difference, Our House is merely a slightly "slowed down" version of its less-heralded arguably-superior predecessor - conveniently released at least 3-4 years later! Imitation is the sincerest, albeit in this case ¿ possibly duplicitous ?, form of flattery!

  3. Nothing new under the sun ... and apparently the moon as well

    Let Me Roll It - McCartney '73 / Walking On The Moon - Sting '79

    The more you lend an ear to this unexpected comparison between the two songs and the obvious similarities - esp the iconic bass figure - the more amusing it may seem (Let Me Roll It - On The Moon!). All things Not being entirely equal, though, this type of minor infringement may be the equivalent of a musical misdemeanor whereby Sting gets off with merely a warning lol

  4. So, which of these 2 inspirational songs inspired the other?

    The Curious Case of Let It Be (recorded Jan 1969 / released more than 1 yr later Mar 1970) vs. Bridge Over Troubled Water (recorded summer of 1969 / released Feb 1970)

    Was the water under the bridge 're-cycled'?

    If Aretha Franklin's cover of Let It Be was released in January, 1970 and Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water was released in February, 1970 - that alone should be some indication of which song was written and recorded first - and indeed it is (the Beatles original recording dates back to January 1969)!
    Not only did Paul Simon himself admit that Bridge Over Troubled Water sounded like Paul McCartney's Let It Be, stating in a Rolling Stone interview: "They are very similar songs ... ," but he has also been quoted as saying that "Bridge Over Troubled Water was inspired by Let It Be," so ...

    Did Paul Simon hand a check to Paul McCartney, too?

    Influenced by the gospel music to which he was listening to at that time, Simon's lyrics to the Bridge Over Troubled Water chorus were specifically inspired by the lines "I'll be your bridge over deep water if you trust in me" from the 1958 song Mary Don't You Weep sung by Claude Jeter and the Swan Silvertones. It is reported that Paul Simon subsequently acknowledged his musical debt to Claude Jeter in person, handing Jeter a check as compensation.

    Something About Mary

    In the verse Bridge Over Troubled Water follows the same question and answer format as Let It Be but shifts focus from 1st to 2nd person. The first word in the lyrics for both songs is 'When', but the second is 'you're' in BOTW vs. 'I' in LIB.
    In the chorus Bridge Over Troubled Water defers to Jeter's Mary Don't You Weep for lyrical direction - instead of Let It Be.

    If they Loved the Original - they'll love the Remake!

    ... and vice-versa! Greater in stature, commercially - at least, than it's predecessor - Bridge Over Troubled Water reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on February 28, 1970, and stayed at the top for six weeks - selling 6 million copies worldwide. Ironically, Let It Be, recorded months earlier (released later), knocked Bridge Over Troubled Water out of the top-spot as Billboard Hot 100 number-one single, April 11 1970, holding that position for half as long, but subsequently outranking Bridge Over Troubled Water on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time 20 - 48. In recent internet viewer polls (music forums) the 2 songs are running neck and neck - close to 50/50.

    As Many Differences as Similarities?

    Other than both being piano-based, gospel-influenced ballads, Bridge Over Troubled Water, despite it's majestic refrains, seems overwrought and too-rehearsed in comparison, and doesn't achieve the spontaneous feel and purity or straightforward presentation of Let It Be. The 2 songs are different in tempo BOTW with its slower see-saw like (somewhat swaying) rhythm with a slight emphasis on the upbeat while LIB is a more straight 4/4 with emphasis on the downbeat. Additionally while the composer of Bridge Over Troubled Water, Paul SImon, neither sang nor played the piano accompanyment for the record, the composer of Let It Be, Paul McCartney - as the recording studio video footage clearly shows - did both!