Did Big Happens Here Do Digable Planets?

I love the 1993 Digable Planets album, “Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time And Space).”  Their big single from the album, “Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat),” might have been overplayed and overhyped but I still like it.

I love seeing how others view music that is not their native music.   By “native,” I mean this is music that is not their primary music – not the music that they first performed or were “into.”  Many in hip hop came to R & B and jazz after they were first immersed in hip hop, just as many in jazz may have started in rock, and so on.  One of the things that intrigues me is how someone from outside a musical tradition can latch onto a small phrase that might seem not extremely interesting or important to those who are the REAL practitioners of a style, i.e., musicians who are inside that tradition.  For example,  what a hip hop musician might think is important in a jazz composition can be much different from what a jazz musician might think is most important.

I know that many traditional jazz players, especially in the early and mid-1980’s, would not likely latch on to a short phrase, repeat it many times and make this small and almost “throw away” motif into something big.  This tiny melodic gesture, in the hands of an outsider (with respect to a musical tradition), could become the most important part of the melody, or sometimes the only melody that matters to someone from outside of that tradition.  This “how does a foreigner view our music” idea is one I will explore later.  I’ll include myself in this – how and why did I get into hip hop, or Senegalese, Malagasy, Brazilian or Cuban music.

All of this to get back to that famous Digable Planets song that samples some jazz.  Digable Planets were not the first group to sample jazz but this song did influence a lot of people and inform others that something new was happening.  And that this new thing was happening from the confluence of more than one musical style.

I got thinking of Digable Planets a few days ago (during Hurricane Sandy) when I saw a television commercial promoting the idea that New York state is a great place to have technology companies – that New York is “home to the fastest-growing tech sector in America.”   (Massachusetts needs a “tech is our kind of place” and “we are the [tech] champions, my friend” commercial to top New York, but I digress.)

As always, I was doing something other than watching television passively.  I must have been playing on my iPad waiting for the winds to blow harder (as they did).  I heard music that seemed quite familiar – my instant thought was that this music on the tube was a “write around” aka “writearound” aka “reference” of Digable Planets’ “Cool Like Dat.”

Fortunately, the tech commercial was on YouTube, so I lassoed it and placed it here:

Big Happens Here:  Technology

Now here is Digable Planets’ “Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat).”

Digable Planets – “Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)”

What do you think?  Do you hear a relationship between Big Happens Here and Digable Planets?

Is Big Happens Here a ripoff of Digable Planets?

Is Big Happens Here somewhat similar to Digable Planets?

Is Big Happens here not related to Digable Planets?

I think there is a relationship.  I’d rather not divulge my thoughts but read of yours.  I’ll explain my thoughts later.  Soon.  Maybe tomorrow.  But I await your responses.  :  )

Big Wind – a set list for Hurricane Sandy

I hope everyone is having a safe Hurricane Sandy.  I am in Framingham MA having moved away from my residence on Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester MA.  Because I live 100 steps from the ocean, I thought it was a good idea to move away from the storming ocean for a few days.

I’ve seen a lot of Sandy here – increasing winds, downed branches & trees, closed roads….  In other words,  I was driving near the time when it was stupid to be driving (very few were on the road but I wreak of confidence!).   We had a blackout, I readied myself for that, and then an hour later, the lights went on.  Very nice.  Lots of limes and cachaca, a perfect muddler, Tupperware shaker.  Yes, all that.  Many have it much worse.

I’m having all kinds of computer & telecomm problems between the new cord for the new iPhone 5, its $29 adaptor, the failed adaptor in my car, the fact that Jupiter rotates in the wrong direction, etc.  AT & T makes life difficult for my iPad use as these scoundrels insist on the identification of where I have “service,” where I am billed, whether I am Michael, E. Michael or Edward Michael and which of my addresses (two in MA, one in NJ and one in TN) I use.  I can’t keep this stuff straight!  I keep writing more and more complex melodies o be used as passwords.    In addition to that, I’m supposed to know where I live?  Send help.  I can’t do the mundane  :  )

I was living in New Jersey for the last big hurricane – Irene (2011)  –  to hit the Northeast.  In preparation for that disaster, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a set list of songs about big winds.  All of the songs from my Big Wind set list were in my iMac.  I also wanted to feature songs from many styles, and some non-obvious  wind songs.  (I omitted The Association’s “Windy,” for example.)

So, here is my 2011 set list reprinted here for your meteorological  and emotional comfort.  May you have as many smiles with these songs as did I.

Annuit Coeptis


Friday, August 26, 2011

Pompton Lakes, New Jersey – a day before Hurricane Irene arrives

In honor of The Big Wind (and Rain), I thought I’d compile some of my favorite songs about wind into a set list.   These songs are carefully arranged by my mood – what I want to hear and what feels right following each song.  The styles often don’t flow according to those who restrict themselves to a single style or two.  But I restrict myself to music and sound that I can perceive – I love as many varieties of music as I do varieties of food, people and geography.

Here goes:

1. Florida Hurricane – St. Louis Jimmy

2. The Wayward Wind – I have & love 3 versions – Neil Young, Gogi Grant & Patsy Cline

3. Let The Wind Blow – The Beach Boys

4. Parry The Wind High, Low – Frank Black

5. Like A Hurricane – Neil Young

6. I Hear The Wind Blow – They Might Be Giants

7. The Eye Of The Hurricane – Herbie Hancock

8. In The Wind – Johnny A.

9. March Winds Goin’ To Blow My Blues Away – Carter Family

10. A Pillow Of Winds – Pink Floyd

11. Summer Wind – Frank Sinatra

12. Summer Wind – Desert Rose Band

13. Hurricane – Bob Dylan

14. Hurricane Eye – Paul Simon

15. Hickory Wind – The Byrds (BR5-49 version is also great)

16. Smoke In The Wind – Walela

17. Inherit The Wind – Elvis Presley

18. Trade Winds – Frank Sinatra

19. Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan

20. Little Wind – Geri Allen

21. Night Wind – Benny Goodman

22. I Talk To The Wind – King Crimson

23. (I’m Not) A Candle In The Wind – Tammy Wynette

24. Temple Of The Winds – Bill Bruford’s Earthworks

25. Prairie Wind – Neil Young

26. Idiot Wind – Bob Dylan

27. Ill Wind – Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

28. That Ol’ Wind – Garth Brooks

29. Listening Wind – Talkin Heads

30. Santa Ana Winds – The Beach Boys

31. Teenage Wind – Frank Zappa

32. Tahmizyan:  A Cool Wind Is Blowing – Kronos Quartet

33. Third Wind – Pat Metheny

34. Twistin’ In The Wind – David Byrne

35. Aprilwind – Pat Metheny

36. Blow Wind Blow – Dr. John

37. Blow Wind Blow – Muddy Waters

38. Catch The Wind – Donovan

39. Cast Your Pod To The Wind – They Might Be Giants

40. Dust In The Wind – Kansas

41. Easy Wind – Grateful Dead – (God bless Pig Pen!)

42. My Oklahoma Home (It Blowed Away) – Sis Cunningham

43. G-Spot Tornado – Frank Zappa

44. Any Way The Wind Blows – Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention

45. Blow Away – George Harrison

46. Four Strong Winds – Neil Young

47. Gone With The Wind – Sun Ra

48. Shelter In The Rain – Stevie Wonder

49. Blowing Down That Old Dusty Wind – Woody Guthrie

50. A Mighty Wind – the last song from “A Mighty Wind”

Please feel free to add your storms, Norm.


Igor Got Game: A Musical and Legal Comparison of The Beastie Boys and Igor Stravinsky

Igor Got Game:  A Musical and Legal Comparison of the Beastie Boys and Igor Stravinsky

Today I am beginning my trip to New York.  It was going to begin with a stop at the Natick Mall for the only reason I go to any mall – an Apple store.  My iMac won’t play DVD’s and my 13 inch MacBook Pro won’t even turn on.  The laptop died about 30 minutes after I made the appointment at the Genius Bar for the iMac.  It was as if it too wanted attention and injured itself so they could visit the Genius Bar together.  But I canceled this as I now won’t be gone for 4-5 days as I had planned due to Frankenstorm.  I’ll bring the computers to an Apple store closer to Gloucester at some other time.

I’ll be in New York to speak at the 2012 IBS/CUNY Kingsborough Community College Media Conference.  One of the best things about this conference is its location on Oriental Blvd on the Atlantic Ocean.  My best and most expensive app, Navigon, indicates that the location of 2001 Oriental Blvd. is 3 ft. from Oriental Beach on the Atlantic Ocean.  Smile smile!!!  It is so nice to speak with a view of the ocean.  I’ll be in the building on the left in this photo.  And the water will really be that blue.  :  )

On Monday, I would have  spoken to a Corporate Social Responsibility class at 10 AM, and then to a Writing for Radio & TV class at 2 PM, both at William Paterson University.  I had prepared some really fun stuff – there really are enough examples of corporate social irresponsibility in the music and entertainment industry – but that will have to happen at a later time.

But Frankenstorm has changed that.

And now…something completely different.

This was the title of a presentation I gave at several conferences one century ago.  I loved what I was finding when analyzing the Beastie Boys new album at that time (1999) – Hello Nasty.  For one, they had sampled the music of Igor Stravinsky and Stephen Sondheim and found ways of connecting both Stravinsky & Sondheim.

I’ll return to this subject in the near future and possibly post this paper in installments.

Here is the abstract to that presentation:

“Igor Got Game:  A Musical and Legal Comparison of

The Beastie Boys and Igor Stravinsky”

E. Michael Harrington



Igor Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella” (1918) drew heavily upon music composed by Giovanni Pergolesi and others in the early 18th century.  The Beastie Boys, an extremely popular rap/hip hop music group since the mid-1980’s, in their best-selling CD, Hello Nasty (1999) drew upon the music of Stravinsky by means of the digital sampling of Stravinsky’s “Firebird.”  Both of these “borrowings” share important similarities and differences.  Furthermore, these borrowings shed light on several seemingly unrelated disciplines and fields of study.  These include music composition and the nature of creativity and originality, the intellectual property law of different times and societies created to protect authors from appropriations of their original works, the means by which borrowed music may be used and transmitted (sampling, digital streaming, MP3, etc.), and the business (financial, licensing, retail, broadcast, etc.) considerations involved in such borrowings.  Although neither Stravinsky or the Beastie Boys were alone in using preexisting music in their compositions, the manner in which they have borrowed in these specific instances is historically significant.  In addition, these borrowings, taken as a related whole, constitute an important educational paradigm by which we can better understand the definitions of creativity, and originality, and how these definitions have changed and remained the same in light of today’s legal, cultural, economic and technological developments.

Using the Beastie Boys’  Hello Nasty, and Stravinsky’s “Firebird” and “Pulcinella,” this presentation will demonstrate the advantages of a more multidisciplinary – creative, technological, legal and business – approach to the understanding and teaching of  music in the 21st century.  Classes which can be positively enhanced by such an approach include music appreciation, music theory, music composition, business, intellectual property law and technology.

The Order Of Songs On An Album – Part 1


While writing about the Grateful Dead song, “Black Peter,” it occurred to me that “Black Peter,” like the rest of the songs on the Grateful Dead’s album “Workingman’s Dead,” was strategically placed, or strategically dipped.   Strategically dipped?

“You walked into the party

like you were walking onto a yacht

your hat STRATEGICALLY DIPPED below one eye

your scarf it was apricot?”

Does that lyric sound familiar?   It’s from Carly Simon’s, “You’re So Vain.”

Before I get to the simple point I want to express, I have an enormous and probably flawed assumption – that in 2012  there is such a thing as an “album.”  Many have decried that albums died with Napster, P2P and the ability to cherry pick songs you like – fans just want to select the good stuff and ignore the weaker songs on an album.

My old fashioned premise is that albums are artistic statements – a collection of songs in a specific order which were conceived, arranged, produced, recorded and eventually distributed in order to make an artistic statement, expression or series of expressions.

The content of an album is important but so is the placement of the songs – what comes first, third, etc.  I’ve noticed patterns to song placement on better and best albums and concluded there is one I favor.

And now to my simple point – this is how one should do song placement on an album:

You put the four (4) best songs in these places.  And it’s often best to think of the album as a two-sided/two-headed entity, you know, like a 33 rpm vinyl record.  For many of us raised in the Album Period (1965-1999), albums will always have (or NEED) two (2) sides.  CD’s are approximating albums, and mix tapes and set lists can also approximate 2-sided albums.


Side 1

FIRST SONG – best song on side 1.  It doesn’t have to be the best but it has to be an invitation to listen to the rest.

LAST SONG – best on Side 1, other than the first song on side 1, which could be better.  But after this song ends, you think, “I can’t wait to get to Side 2.”



Side 2

FIRST SONG –  “Wow!  Side 2 is great too!  I’m really glad I got this album.  They’re still my favorite band!”  Also, the first song on side 2 is to tell the listener that this band is DEEP – there’s a lot more and some surprises to come.  The first song on side 2, I think, should be where one introduces something very new.  If you’re trying to show how eclectic and creative the band is, this is the spot.  This should be the most experimental place because if the listener is on side 2, chances are she/he sat through all of side 1, really liked it, and is looking forward to side 2.

LAST SONG – “Wow – that was the best song.  This is a fantastic album!  I’m glad they took chances, and after this song, I wonder what the next album will be like.”



To support this, I will turn to:


The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Doors – Waiting For The Sun

The Grateful Dead – Workingman’s Dead



and other albums in later posts.



What do you think about any of the commentary above?



Baseball and Music – The Right Songs for the Right Season

I thought of calling this post, “15  Songs for the Soul.”  But that thought lasted for two seconds.  Elvis Costello’s great lyric from “Alison” came to mind, and rescued me:   “I’m not going to get too sentimental like those other sticky Valentines.”

I also liked the title, “I see St. Peter wave ,” but decided against that too.   If you don’t know, that is a short phrase from a song by They Might Be Giants.   “I see St. Peter wave” then led me to the rest of the song which burrowed its way perfectly into this post.   And I love the messages the songs below convey.  They are perfectly suited for this day, don’t you think?

I’d love to get reactions to these songs in this season.  :  )

To quote ELVIS COSTELLO again (re this post):


*   *   *   *   *   *

I’ll only write a baseball post this once (in 2012) but because I love music and baseball, I thought I could fuse the two, especially because this is prime time baseball season with the 2012 World Series about to begin.

Music, and music with words, can make us connect with our emotions.   Our emotions can become more intense through and with music.  We can use music to heighten our feelings, to subdue our feelings, to bring us out of sadness, or even to take us down a more languished and lugubrious path.

Have I mentioned that I am from Cambridge/Boston/Framingham?   I love New York City – visited it hundreds of times, lived in midtown Manhattan for a lot of 2004-2006 (51st & 7th Avenue), and in nearby NJ from 2008-2012.  These few facts are central to why and how I constructed today’s post.

The New York Yankees lost four (4) straight games to the Detroit Tigers (their final loss came last night) and will not be in the  2012 World Series. New Yorkers view winning the World Series as a birthright.  Bostonians, on the other hand, do not have any kind of birthright but we get great joy when New York sports teams fail.  I think the sports fan enthusiasm with NYers and Bostonians are nearly genetic in origin.  According to contemporary health and medicinal talk, what we have are PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS!

So with that in mind, I offer some music for New Yorkers today on this bleak day, the morning after a $200 million team collapsed into darkness….



T H E Y   M I G H T    B E    G I A N T S


 T U P A C  

B O B     D Y L A N 

H A N K    W I L L I A M S

E L V I S    C O S T E L L O

T H E    M A V E R I C K S

T H E    P O L I C E



I would be remiss if (I love cliches like, I would be remiss if) I didn’t offer some music for Bostonians today as well.  With that in mind, let us pray (no, I won’t use that cliche) —-  let us turn to some more music:



T H E     B E A T L E S   

B O B    M A R L E Y

R O L L I N G   S T O N E S 

U 2


E A R T H,  W I N D   &   F I R E

T H E    C O W S I L L S


Have a great weekend!

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, flamboyant red shoes, Harvard Law School

I knew this day would happen – I just didn’t want it to happen yet – happen today.  What’s the thing I’ve sort of dreaded?

The ocean temperature has finally dropped into the 50’s!  It’s 59 F this morning.  The air is 59 F and feels 59 F, both by the Weather Channel’s standards and mine.  I’ll go see what 59 F salt water feels like soon.

And if and when the day comes that I can no longer walk in the ocean barefooted, or shoed with my flamboyant shoes (essentially, barefoot), I’ll deal with it.   (If you want to see my flamboyant red shoes, there’s plenty of footage – shoe-age – in Socialcam, or you can see them here:   http://bit.ly/RWQNmy )   I don’t know about wetsuits. Maybe it will be time to research those, or ask the next wet-suited person I see in the ocean.

Today will be a long but exciting day.  I’ve got projects to work on, USPS mail to await (am I a voter or not?), and a lot of talking to do.

Late this afternoon I’ll be speaking to students at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.   The subject will be copyright and music – some real nuts & bolts stuff from my perspective.  Because I’ve been in the middle of a lot of copyright issues, questions and disputes, I’ve been forced to think and make decisions.  It’s always amazing to think that federal law is used to evaluate and appraise someone’s creative expression – that the law would say EXPRESSION X is of more value and worth more “protection” than EXPRESSION Y, and that I’m asked to do the evaluating of expression.  Fun and humbling.  In the same way that teaching/professing is fun and humbling.  More than just humbling, it’s quite an honor.

This will be my second time speaking to students at UWO.  “UWO” – that’s a cool acronym.  It makes me think of EMO, which is sort of an acronym.

I hope to be good enough that there will be a 3rd time for me at UWO.

30 minutes after that ends, I meet with a class online, for 60 minutes, then a break of 30 minutes, than another online class for 60 minutes, and then I’ll know more about the state of the baseball playoffs.  There were times in a distant past (Stone Age pre-Internet days) when I’d bring a little TV to a class I was teaching, turn on the baseball playoffs with no sound but the TV facing me, and profess away.  When things got exciting, I’d turn the TV to let my students watch too.  Today, I’m in a nice house, the TV is much larger, and the Atlantic Ocean is on both sides of the TV (the TV is between two large windows) and I’ll be sitting in my only expensive piece of furniture – my Herman Miller Aeron chair.  Life doesn’t get much better the this, does it?  :  )

Another aside – a Harvard Law professor and friend invited me to lunch yesterday.  I got to see his office in the incredible new Wasserstein Hall.    (How cool is it to see a United States Supreme Court Justice – Elena Kagan – with big blades about to cut a ribbon?)   I was not surprised to see how Harvard Law treats their faculty.  He had a Herman Miller Aeron chair just like mine.

Some of my next ideas for this blog are:

  1. start out a-talkin’ about what’s on my mind – the temperature of the ocean and times for the tides, mostly  :  )
  2. delve into more music, technology, law and business news – the sale of Sprint, Apple rumors, etc.
  3. respond to friends’ questions and comments
  4. figure stuff out – copyright and creative expression being a big part of that
  5. get interrupted with better ideas and suggestions (this again is where my friends come into it)

Onward!  I hope we have an excellent day!

Annuit Coeptis

As Apple Annoys Again

There are millions of Apple fans worldwide – those who will anxiously await the newest shiny silver Apple device. If it is shiny and silver we’ll buy it, or at least I love to say that given any chance.   Samsung’s new (September-October 2012) commercial for their Galaxy S-3 smartphone makes good fun of us Apple fanboys and fangirls who will wait in lines for hours and days to be the first to get the new Apple toy, most recently, the iPhone 5.

I use “shiny” in deference to my all-time favorite Onion parody – a fictional news story about a fictional new Apple product – the MacBook Wheel.  If you don’t know this genius of a parody, you’ve come to the right place!  I  consider this Onion parody on Applemania and technology reporting to be on a par with the original and quintessential “mockumentary”  – “This Is Spinal Tap.”

In The Onion’s news exclusive, “Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard,” we were introduced to the funny but too-accurate saying, “I’ll buy almost anything if it’s shiny and made by Apple.”

There were many gems in this short piece including my favorite – Apple’s new “Predictive Sentence Technology,” with its millions of sentences from which to choose:

The aardvark admitted its fault.
The aardvark admitted it was wrong.
The aardvark asked for an aardvark.
The aardvark asked for a dagger.
And so on…..

But now to the problem I have with Apple today:

I listen to KCBS’ technology expert, Larry Magid’s brief daily podcast where he gives concise summaries of important news developments in technology, new gadgets, and services, as well as problems faced in cyberspace.

Here is one of Larry’s recent posts from his “Larry’s World” blog, on an annoying “improvement” in Apple’s iOS 6.

Apple claims that its Ad Tracking is  “a non-permanent, non-personal device identifier that adverting networks will use to give you more control over advertiser’s ability to use tracking methods.”

But it is not so “non-permanent” and it might give you “more control” but certainly not enough control.  Or the ability to completely opt out of being tracked by advertisers.

As Larry points out, the opting out option is not in an intuitive place, and is nearly completely hidden.  One might think to look under “Settings” and then, “Privacy,” or under “Settings” and then “General,” and then “Privacy,” but none of these would be correct.

Instead one has to go to “Settings” and then “General.”  OK.  That’s sensible.

But the next step is bizarre – one must click on “About,” not “Restrictions,” or “Accessibility,” or another heading.  (And under “General,” there is not even an option entitled, “Privacy.”)  “About” is where one usually finds one’s serial number, device model indicator, cellular data number, wi-fi address, etc.  Not where one would dig to change a privacy feature.

Next, after one has highlighted “About,” one must scroll down nineteen (19) headings to the word, “Advertising,” which is located just below “Modem Firmware” and above “Diagnostics & Usage.”  Huh?

Next, one will click on the only option available – “Limit Ad Tracking.”  So if you then click on “Limit Ad Tracking,” you are supposedly in for some relief from advertisers.  But what kind and how much relief?  Why isn’t there an option to “Eliminate” or “Disable” ad tracking?

You have only one option – the ability to “limit” advertisers’ ability to track you.  You won’t know that advertisers have truly been limited and to what extent.  Just trust Apple on this one – you have taken firm control of your online privacy with respect to advertisers, or as much as Apple will permit.

Apple is a great company for brilliant U.I. and ease and fun of use of their shiny silver toys.  This feature and its obscure location, however, makes one realize that Apple plays by rules that aren’t benevolent or consumer-friendly (Apple loves us, don’t they?).   Apple has sold us another expensive toy, so that we can buy into an expensive monthly marriage with a telecom and then sell us to as many advertisers as possible.  And in addition, millions of us are now choosing to rent the music and books we have already purchased.

But as Kip Dynamite sang at his wedding in the film, “Napoleon Dynamite:”

“Yes, I love technology, but not as much as you you see, but I still I love technology, always and forever…”

When You Don’t Know What To Say…… (Part 1)

Sometimes when you’re writing, you can draw a blank.

Sometimes when you’re writing a song, you can also draw a blank.

You don’t know what words to use, or how this melody or chord progression should evolve.  When that happens, people react in different ways.

  1. You step away and do something else.
  2. You step away and listen to other music you’ve written.
  3. you step away and listen to other music someone else has written.
  4. You start to write nonsense words or syllables that will hold the place of better words, when these better words are finally made.

I am reminded of one of the slogans at the fictitious “Faber College” from the film, Animal House.

“When better women are made, Faber College men will be there to make them.”

But to get serious, sometimes the telltale sign that a songwriter had writers’ block can be heard in the lyric that was selected.

One of the best examples of not knowing what words to write, I think, can be heard in a big international hit by a Canadian band.  All I have to write are three (3) words and you’ll likely know what I’m getting at:  Crash Test Dummies

Their 1993 song, “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.” (see video)

Can you sing the song?  Can you twist your mouth from side-to-side like lead singer Brad Roberts does at 1.32, and 2.53-2.57?  He only does that facial contortion twice but according to Weird Al Yankovich, in his brilliant parody-satire of “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm,” Roberts does it most of the time!

But for me the question is:  What did they really mean to write and sing at these points in the song?  Surely they tried to write something other than “mmm” a few – no, MANY – times.

Would you be able to help Crash Test Dummies by writing the lyrics that SHOULD HAVE been written?

Try it in “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.”

“Mmm mmm mmm mmm” happens ten (10) times in the song.  You can hear “mmm mmm mmm mmm” at these ten (10) places in the song:

1,00, 1.03
1.45, 1.47, 1.55, 1.57
2.53, 2.55,  3.03, 3.05

So, by my count, there are forty (40) syllables that need to be inserted into this song.

Surely, the song in its prenatal stage, did not need forty (40) statements of “mmm.”  Please.  Go ahead.  Insert the forty (40) syllables you think Crash Test Dummies should have sung!  How can one waste forty (40) words, potentially, or forty (40) syllables, actually, when trying to covey the three (3) short stories the song’s lyric seems to be conveying?  [If you study the lyrics, you’ll understand the three (3) short stories contained within the song.  Or you can cheat and watch the video as it telegraphs the story conveyed by the lyrics.]

Or do you think that this important chorus should have consisted of only 40 statements of “mmm?”

And why should the syllable, “mmm,” which must be sung with a closed mouth, win out over “better” and/or more-suitable-for-singing syllables?

By more-suitable-for-singing syllables, I am referring to:

“lar” (the Boston pronunciation of “lah”)
“far” (Boston for “fa”), etc.
“nar” (the Boston for “nah”)


Are you ready to begin the rewrite?


Mmmm, Mmmm will now become:

(Insert your lyric)____________________________________________________

Mmmm,  Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm will now become:

(Insert your lyric)____________________________________________________


Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm will now become:

(Insert your lyric)____________________________________________________


I look forward to your answers/rewrites in the comments below!

Angie Aparo v. Five For Fighting (Part 3 of 3)

PART 3 of 3

We left off in this cliffhanger with the promise of an ending in this highly abbreviated fictionalized account of what could have been a copyright infringement action brought by Angie Aparo and affiliated parties against Five For Fighting and affiliated parties.

Plaintiff: What country song  features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant:  “Tomorrow Never Comes” by Ernest Tubb does.  Conway Twitty’s “I’m Not Through Loving You Yet” also features 1-2-3-5.

Plaintiff:  What rock song  features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant: “I’ll Follow The Sun” by The Beatles.”  The Beatles‘ “You Won’t See Me” also features 1-2-3-5.

Plaintiff: What soul/R & B song features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant:  “My Girl” by The Temptations.

Plaintiff: What Brazilian song  features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant:  “Canto Do Povo De Um Lugar” by Caetano Veloso.

Plaintiff: What song recorded in Minnesota features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant:  “Paisley Park” by Prince.

Plaintiff:  And you stated, yesterday, that you do not know a song recorded in Iowa that features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant: What is Iowa?  Is there a gas station near there?

Plaintiff:  You also stated yesterday that you do not know a 17th century popular Persian song that features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant: No, my life up until this point has been incomplete as I do not know any 17th century Persian popular songs.

Plaintiff: Is there something you want to tell me?

Defendant: What?

Plaintiff: You seem to be almost laughing, or is that a smirk?  Is there something you would like to share with us?

Defendant: Well, when you put it that way, yes, there is something I would like to say.

Plaintiff: Go ahead.

Defendant: I have the best example to show that we did not copy your client.

This is a very famous example of 1-2-3-5.  And although your client’s song and our client’s song has the same 1-2-3-5, this really famous song from the 1970’s should put an end to this foolish lawsuit.

Here’s what I want you to do:

I want you to sing three (3) phrases from the first chorus of Aparo’s song.  Or we could cue the iPad or iPod (I brought both with me today – one can never get too redundant on the preparation thing, you know? ) – to 1.21 of the live version:

Angie Aparo – “Seed”
(YouTube:  http://bit.ly/Ri53Wr )

“For every seed”   [1-2-3-5]
“once there were two”  [1-2-3-5]
“wrestle your heart”  [1-2-3-5]

They’re the same, right?  Now I want you to sing the first chorus of Five For Fighting’s song.  Or we could cue the iPad to 0.37:

Five For Fighting – “Superman (It’s Not Easy)”
(YouTube:   http://bit.ly/QlaDHC )

“I’m more than a bird”  [1-2-3-5]
“I’m more than a plane” [1-2-3-5]

Those phrases from Five For Fighting are the same melody as the analogous phrases from Angie Aparo, right?

Now I want to introduce a new song as part of our evidence:

A fairly famous song from 1971 that your expert seemed to either overlook, or perhaps he doesn’t know this song.

“All The Young Dudes” by Mott The Hoople – their most famous single.

And as with Aparo and Five For Fighting, guess what melody is at the heart of the chorus?  Yes:  1-2-3-5.

Now I want you to sing the first chorus of  Mott The Hoople’s “All The Young Dudes”  Let’s cue the iPad to 0.52:

Mott The Hoople – “All The Young Dudes”
(YouTube:   http://bit.ly/Rl1sXA )

“all the young dudes”  [1-2-3-5]
“boogaloo dudes”  [1-2-3-5]
“all the young dudes”  [1-2-3-5]
“boogaloo dudes”  [1-2-3-5]

These three (3) songs, by

Mott The Hoople
Angie Aparo
Five For Fighting

…and these specific melodies are interchangeable!  You don’t have a case!    

Or perhaps now we should both worry that David Bowie, who wrote “All The Young Dudes,” and related parties will sue us?

No, they won’t.  They won’t sue because this melody is:

too short;
not original enough to be copyrighted, and;
has occurred in many songs/compositions in many styles of music dating back to Bach.

The short and simple melodic gesture, 1-2-3-5, is in the public domain.

This just goes to show that if not Mott The Hoople, a lot of great music can be traced back to Bach, don’t you think?

(And did you notice that the chorus of Mott The Hoople consists of two (2) nineteen (19)-beat phrases?  Four (4) measures of 4/4 plus one (1) one measure of 3/4 with that entire thing stated twice, i.e. 19/4 + 19/4.  Cool, huh?)

Anyone up for lunch?

Does Five For Fighting’s “Superman” Infringe Angie Aparo’s “Seed? (Part 2 of 3)

Chess Game

Chess Game

If accused of copyright infringement (copying Angie Aparo’s “Seed”), Five For Fighting could reply:  “We didn’t copy your song.”

(That defense should be enough, don’t you think?)

Then, someone on the potential plaintiff’s side (lawyer/publisher/manager etc.) could say, “YES you did.”

Defendant (Five For Fighting) could reply, “NO we didn’t.”

Then, Plaintiff could state, “You HAD to copy it.  You COULDN’T have written it any other way.”

Then, Defendant could state, “NO.  We wrote it without copying.  There was no copying.  Now, go away.”

Plaintiff could bring in an “expert” in music.  This expert could state that the defendant stole the song.

Defendant could bring in another expert who could state that the Defendant did not copy the Plaintiff.

(Now we will drop the conditional auxiliary verb – “could” – as we’ve got a barn-burner of a federal copyright infringement matter here.)

Experts for the Plaintiff and Defendant agree to present evidence, and to two (2) nomenclative points:

  1. Melody is indicated by numerical scale degrees: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8
  2. Time is indicated by a number, decimal point and two-digit number.  This configuration is identical to that indicated by an MP3 player or CD player.  For example, the indication, “2.31” indicates “two minutes and thirty-one seconds.”

Plaintiff and Defendant agree that the melody in question is:


and that 1-2-3-5 occurs at these points:

(It is common that there can be slight disagreements as to the exact temporal location of some of the numbers, but these are inconsequential in the determination of copyright infringement in this specific case)

Angie Aparo – “Seed”
(YouTube:  http://bit.ly/Ri53Wr )

1.21, 1.24, 1.29
1.43, 1.54
3.25, 3.35, 3.45

Five For Fighting – “Superman (It’s Not Easy)”
(YouTube:   http://bit.ly/QlaDHC )

0.37, 0.39
1.12, 1.14, 1.21, 1.23
2.16, 2.18, 2.25, 2.27
2.51, 2.53, 3.00, 3.02

Plaintiff’s expert touts and further explains his evidence.

Defendant’s expert states that the melody in common is not copyrighted because it can be found in many songs written before the Plaintiff’s song.

Plaintiffs demand Defendants’ expert witness prove that the melody in question is not copyrighted.

Defendant’s expert witness shows that the melody is found in the music of:  Bach, Borodin, Brahms, Dvorak, Foster, Guonod, Haydn. Lear, Mendelssohn and Mozart.

Plaintiff demands specificity.

Defendant specifies:

Bach –  Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring (Cantata No. 147)
Borodin – Prince Igor
Brahms – Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor
Dvorak – Sonatina in G for Piano and Violin, Op. 100
Foster – Oh, Susannah
Guonod – Mors et vita
Haydn – Trumpet Concerto in Eb
Lear – Frasquita
Mendelssohn – Piano Concerto in G minor
Mozart – Piano Concerto in Bb, K. 191

Plaintiff is not impressed and wants Defendant to give them evidence from a song written and recorded in the past 50 years.

Defendant says that will be easy and that he can find this simple melody in several popular music styles.

Plaintiff feels that the Defendant’s Expert may have gotten himself into a predicament  that could easily backfire.  Talking too much, and too large, can cause trouble.

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a country song that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “yes.”

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a rock song that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “yes.”

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a soul/R & B song that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “yes.”

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a Brazilian song that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “yes.”

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a song recorded in Minnesota that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “yes.”

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a song recorded in Iowa that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “no.”

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a 17th century popular Persian song that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “no.”

The Defendant’s expert wasn’t as cocky as Plaintiffs anticipated.  But surely there will be enough here to discredit him.  We will ask him more tomorrow – hand him more rope.

Tomorrow we will end this discussion.  Both side are convinced that they are right.