My Take on The 2014 Grammys Show


Last night – Sunday, January 26, 2014 – I watched the 2014 Grammys show.  I rarely watch the Grammys or any awards shows – Emmys, Academy Awards, Peoples’ Choice, the Oscars, the Madisons, the Ungers, etc.  I thought I’d post/drink a 140, an FB and then sign off and watch Dexter Season 4.  For some reason, I kept watching & commenting on the Grammys.  (But I managed to watch Dexter later.)

(Isn’t my “G7” cube cover photograph nice and nicely apropos?  The “G” stands for Grammy and the “7” is associated with the “G.”  Together this chocolate and peanut butter concatenation means, “G7,” aka “G Dominant 7th chord,” a favorite and old hit among us guitarists.)


My first post was to Facebook:

1(a).  I’m a Grammys member & am supposed to be thrilled & engaged. The opening is perfectly predictable like every Grammy show. But for once I don’t think we’ll get an EDUCATIONAL lecture about the evils of downloading & that downloaders, Pandora and the ANTICHRIST herself aka GOOGLE who have stopped the performance & creation of music. I wish the teleprompter readers the very best of luck tonight. And I am pro-my clients, friends and the old people (Beatles rhythm section guys and any other 60+ ancient folk).  Time for Twitter where there is peace. 

I was about to leave when suddenly I didn’t. I was at my iMac and just kept writing in response to what I was seeing and hearing at the Grammys.

Warning – silliness, sarcasm, exaggeration, commentary, kindness and fodder for lawyers

who will someday interrogate me lie ahead!


Here are those less-140-character statements:

1.  I’m a Grammys member & am supposed to be thrilled & engaged with this B. A. show. The opening is perfectly predictable like the rest.

2.  “We made this record without a record label.” And then in comes the music. STOP THAT ANTI-RECORD LABEL rant! Right now! #Grammys

3.  I’m so puzzled. Lord or Lorde with that extra “E” is a damn big deal. Her Royal is heart felt & I damn well don’t get it. #Grammys

4.  And let’s remember, “Sponsored by CBS.” Even the commercials show pretty women who have been deprived of body fat. #Grammys

5.  CBS Radio salutes the artists who create the music. And now Hunter Hayes. The Unarrested Justin Bieber. #Grammys

6.  Hunter Hayes can play piano with his right hand & emote FEELINGS with his left hand as he gets soulful. Wow, only in LA! #Grammys

7.  I’m wrong – Hunter Hayes is doing Miley Ray Cyrus. I can’t get this modern stuff straight! #Grammys

8.  Wow! A man & a woman are approaching the center of the stage to read the nominations. This is why I watch! #Grammys

9.  Robin Thicke’s Marvin Gaye cover did not win! But they teased us by having them in the selection pool. #Grammys

Spinal Tap – Tap Into America

10.  Dude – your bicycle helmets are getting me thinking UP and FIRM! And thank you to the Academy. #Grammys

11.  “Dude, I am very funny in England. Remember I’m from England like Ringo and left-handed Paul.” “Miss Katy Perry.” #Grammys

12.  Now we get Spinal Tap’s Druids and Stonehenge done RIGHT! The horns & repeated lyric phrases work “& look at my crotch.” #Grammys

13.  Even the horses are looking up at the sky, even if the horses are dark blue. And a rap is being delivered in a serious way. #Grammys

14.  Up next – “An intimate performance by Taylor Swift…” Dear God, may it be not TOO intimate. I like moderation (& no blue horses) #Grammys

15.  Robin Thicke & his grandparents & some of their assisted living friends, a band from Illinois called “Chicago,” are next! #Grammys

16.  “Reunited a classic group” with “someone who exploded this year…We’re gonna blur the lines a little bit…” Write your own joke #Grammys

17.  The Great Thicke Grandson knows so many of the Elders’ songs! And a rapper does too! #Grammys

18.  I’ve never been to Branson (no nearby interstates) but tonight I’m blessed to be getting Branson’s finest (& with rap guy!)! #Grammys

19.  Get the Elders off the stage as now Grandson wants to tell her that he “knows she wants it.” Awful sex stuff! #Grammys


20.  I see Australian guy on short leash. He sings “You’re so innocent.” Next a guy is restrained & imitates a white singer. #Grammys

21.  I love this instrumental solo/rendition of Prince’s “When the doves cry.” Just the good notes up high on that ax! #Grammys

22.  YEA! Commercials are great too! Austin Mahone is back! I’m so glad he broke off from the rest of his domineering family. #Grammys

23.  “Your love keeps lifting me higher & higher.” As guy sniffs sheets happily, up comes warning about sniffing sheets. Huh? #GrammysCommerical

24.  9-Time Grammy Winner John Legend sings from his heart & about the value of his legal name change. Not “Novella” but “Legend.” #Grammys

25.  That closing LEGEND piano chord was to say “I’m deep.” And “this was deep.” #Grammys

26.  My wild guess!!! A song called “God Was Dead” won’t win an award! #Grammys

27.  Nirvana drummer & Beatles bass player wins something. Go Vegan! They “knocked it out in a couple of hours” NO age jokes. #Grammys

28.  “My good friend Taylor Swift.” WARNING – Perfect intonation ahead. WARNING – intonation perfect or not does not matter. 🙂 #Grammys

29.  If she doesn’t bob her head up and down fiercely the loudness level won’t rise – it will stay a sensitive ballad. WINNING bob! #Grammys

30.  For those of us who love music theory, we can notice tonight that if you’re deep, you don’t end on the One Chord. #Grammys

31.  Absolutely bizarre COINCIDENCE! John “Please Consider Me A” Legend sang at the Grammys & is singing for a car commercial #Grammys


I quickly looked away to the Twitterverse & laughed at this tweet connecting a particular Grammy performer with Mick Huckabee’s “women” statement.  (Why do some white male “Get Off My Lawn” politicians so often describe/prescribe for women?)


Mike Huckabee wants you to know he thinks Taylor Swift can control her libido and it’s totally not weird that he’s thinking about that.

32.  He sings at the Superbowl but immorally says, “Strap yourselves in…” This is not family time TV. And now Color Pink sings #Grammys

33.  I don’t follow these shows closely but I think the stripping thing is having an impact. Pink swings. Where’s her pole? #Grammys


diminutive mustache guy’s attempt to sing #Grammys

35.  I think she & mustache are singing at each other trying to one up the other. She’ll win. #Grammys

36.  Lord + e wins! “This is the one thing that I did not expect the most about tonight…” giggle #Grammys #Grammar

37.  “Unleash your love for music…” More of this double entendre language by my Grammy people. What’s with this enticing talk? #Grammys

38.  Next time I sing in public, i’ll make sure my red lipstick & my red mic match! Love these commercials! #BandPerry #Grammys

In the words of Ozzy

39.  Ozzy says, ” FTVGYJK iojhu …%^TY&ing ^TY&U*fab f^&*(ck…. Ringo Starr!” #Grammys

40.  Yea! White hair at the Grammys! Even the trumpet player is singing (fortunately without a mic). Go Ringo! #Grammys

41.  I just heard from her parents. In print her parents prefer, “Lord Plus E.” Apologies. I stand corrected. #Grammys

42.  He must be important. He’s reading from a teleprompter without a female counterpart. “The nominees are…” #Grammys

43.  Love the “all the pregnant women are like what do I got to…” And pregnant woman’s man WINS! #Grammys

44.  “I want to thank God a little bit…” A LITTLE BIT? Wow – there should be hell and damnation coming down on him soon! #Grammys

45.  Yea to Def Jam! This is the educational moment instead of DON’T DONWLOAD YOU BAD & evil stealin’ YOUNG ‘UNS. #Grammys

46.  He sings about “prison binds” & is dressed in a tight white top. Now there are more dressed in those tight whites. #Prisonmongers #Grammys

47.  This will be another one of those great nursing home anthems in 2050. The residents will all dress in white & wave their arms.

48.  An exciting new voice in country music & in case you don’t believe it, we’ve provided neon cactus as background. #Grammys

49.  That pink neon female cactus with the protruding middle finger/TALL part is about grrrrllll cccactusssss empowerment. #Grammys

50.  The most creative people are in advertising and I’m thrilled that I get to work with a lot of them! Stone time. #Grammys

51.  Julia Roberts is here as a reminder that her film needs more ticket buyers. “I’m still hot & my film is in theaters.” #Grammys

New Beatles/Paul McCartney Song

52.  Paul & Ringo will play a new song. The audience will demand it be short or sound like a Beatles song they know. #Grammys

53.  It’s what you’d expect from Paul – melodic, instantly identifiable & in a few sections a la Uncle Albert. #Grammys

54.  Legally, Yoko would not have been allowed to dance to Paul’s singing back when they were suing each other for decades. #Grammys

55.  I LOVE SEEING TWO BEATLES TOGETHER on stage or anywhere! Wonderful! #Grammys

56.  Pharrell with lots of r’s and l’s … Isn’t he one of the guys who stole Marvin Gaye’s sex song? #GRAMMYs

57.  Thanking your Mom is the best thing you can do. Very good to hear! (even if after thanking his manager.) #Grammys

58.  This can’t be! Paul just sang this song for the 1st time & Surface stole it & put it in their commercial! No way! #Grammys

59.  Finally, someone champions the color grey! #Grammys But importantly these are great musicians/artists!

60.  Awesome music history then & now here on stage. Willie & Kris & Merle! #Grammys Jokingly in 2014, Don’t do pot!|

61.  Irony and William Shattner-ism galore on stage! Just say NO to pot, shaggy hair & cowboy-as-a-career path! #Grammys

62.  More country musicians on stage (she & he as should be), this time without signifying neon cactus/cact-eye! #Grammys

63.  I didn’t see Faith Hill offstage mouthing, “WHAT?!?!?!” Was Faith there? Yes, thank Nashville & Mercury Records. #Grammys

64.  Every player on that stage should be introduced on this Daft Punk Stevie Wonder song. Punk Punk Stevie. #Grammys

65.  Sure, sing “Freak out, freak out!” but someone BADLY needs an introduction! Music history moment again! #Grammys

66.  Excellent transition to “Another Star” by Stevie Wonder! Oh yeah. The best of 1976 fits here! Great performance! #Grammys


67.  Loving many of these commercials – Google & Zorba The Greek mashup. #Grammys

68.  Cyndi Lauper is always original, self-deprecating, funny and timeless. Cool to intro Carole King from Brooklyn! #Grammys

69.  Carole & Sara work great together. Proof that age/gender/color/religion etc are to be ignored. #Grammys

70.  Oh. They gave this song away & it resulted in just a bit of success? Really? Free can lead to success? A business model! #Grammys

71.  I’m still waiting for the introduction of that musician – 3 syllables – who performed earlier with Punk Punk Stevie. #Grammys

72.  Lou Reed well-deserved accolades. Music history time again. #Grammys

73.  Jaymz Lennfield – The great & supportive Metallica! Unlike Sony, these guys are in Beatallica’s (our) corner! #Grammys

74.  Day-uhm! Metallica are more than just holding up! Nice! No rust, no decay! #Grammys

75.  Beethoven’s 9th, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Lord + E’s Royal. I’m starting to understand how popularity works. #Grammys

76.  Well, they’ve introduced the ROBOTS but no… wait, they did! Nile Rodgers has been mentioned verbally & on stage! #Grammys



77.  Oh cool! The commitment to love can only mean one thing – the freedom to date & marry! Human rights, dignity & music can work! #Grammys

78.  I was turned on to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in 2012 by Harvard Law students. I’m very appreciative to have learned about them. #Grammys

79.  Yea! The freedom to choose friends, start to date and maybe get married. Why oppose this? Good move #Grammys

80.  Portnow usually is the worst part of the Grammys show. But this time, I predict no rant against technology. #Grammys

81.  Passing of Van Cliburn, George Jones, Ray Manzarek, McPartland, George Duke, Ramone, Winters, Cowboy Jack, Starker… #Grammys

82.  Very good Armstrong/Lambert rendition of Everly Brothers. Everlys will last. #Grammys

83.  Glad to see my friend Milt Olin mentioned as a great who recently died. I didn’t see Mulgrew Miler’s name. Was he mentioned? #Grammys

84.  Tragic that the name John Legend can sound when John LENNON is intended. My teaching moment – John Lennon was better. #Grammys

85.  Paul Williams & Nile Rodgers! Williams – 2 robots called Williams after he was sober & asked him to write music. Funny! #Grammys

86.  @john_kubicsko That’s a real shame & bad oversight. Mulgrew Miller’s passing was really significant. Thanks for letting me know, John!

87.  Pretty good Grammys show – no STOP DOWNLOADING silliness. I’m glad I watched – I rarely do. Now, back to Netflix. Dexter again? #Grammys

Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines” v. Marvin Gaye “Got To Give It Up” – My Interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – “Day 6”


Brent Bambury, host of the CBC Radio program “Day 6,” interviewed me while I was in Birmingham, Alabama.  (Wednesday, August 28, 2013)

I was in Birmingham, Alabama last week to speak to three (3) wonderful and diverse groups – the Birmingham Rotary Club, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the Indian Cultural Society.

At 12:40 PM, Wednesday, August 28, 2013, I spoke to the Birmingham Rotary Club.  Two hours earlier, I did a pre-blog pre-post while having a very distracted breakfast.

At 3:00 PM, I had the great pleasure of speaking with (in the form of an interview) Brent Bambury for the CBC  Day 6 program.

At 7:00 PM, I spoke to students, faculty and others at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where I had once served as Jemison Professor.  It was an exhausting but perfect day!

The next evening, at the Birmingham Museum of Art, I had the great honor of delivering the 2nd Annual Indian Cultural Society Lecture.  (I created a Pinterest board for my talk which can be seen here.)

I would like to write to more about each of these three (3) lectures in Birmingham,  But for now, I will write about the 4th and extremely unexpected interview with the CBC.

The interview can be heard at the CBC Day 6 website.  I transcribed CBC Day 6 host Brent Bambury’s interview with me below.


In the transcribed interview below:

“B” stands for CBC Day 6 host, Brent Bambury;

“E” stands for E. Michael Harrington.

B will be in normal font.

E will be in bold and italics.


B:  This is the summer that Canadian singer Robin Thicke has the biggest hit of his career.  (Song begins to play)  The song is Blurred Lines and it’s been holding down the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for weeks now.  But it hasn’t been an easy road.  Controversy seems to cling to this song like a flesh-colored latex bikini.  A video clip for the song features topless models cavorting with Thicke and his collaborators, producer Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I. (Blurred Lines is heard).

And that video, along with the song’s lyrics, led many to slam the song as degrading to women.  Some even said Blurred Lines evokes rape. (Blurred Lines is heard – music – “I know you want it, I know you want it, I know you want it’)

More controversy came this week when Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus turned up in an awkwardly suggestive performance of the hit on the MTV Video Awards.  (Blurred Lines is heard)

And if all that wasn’t enough, a completely separate debate has been bubbling under all summer.  This time the controversy is about the origin of the song itself.  Since its release, critics have been saying that Blurred Lines sounds an awful like Got To Give It Up, a 1977 hit by the late Marvin Gaye.  (Got To Give It Up is heard)

You can hear the similarity but the question is: are the two songs similar enough to be called “plagiarism?”  According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Gaye estate turned down a six-figure settlement deal to keep the case out of court.  And that led to a preemptive lawsuit against Gaye’s estate filed by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I.  That’s right – the songwriters of Blurred Lines are suing Marvin Gaye’s family over a copyright infringement lawsuit that might come down in the future.

To help us understand what it would take to prove that Blurred Lines rips off Got To Give It Up in a court of law, we’re joined by musicologist and law professor Dr. E. Michael Harrington who has served as a consultant and expert witness in copyright cases involving everyone from the Dixie Chicks, Lady Gaga to Woody Guthrie.  He joins us from Birmingham, Alabama.


B:  Michael, welcome to Day 6.

E:  Thank you, Brent.  I’m very happy to be here.

B:  Nice to have you with us.  Let’s begin by taking a look at some of the similarities between these two songs.  And we’ll start with the rhythm.  This is the intro to the Marvin Gaye song….

And now here’s Blurred Lines…

Now the tempo and the rhythm of those two songs seem very close to me.  What do you make of that?

E:   I think you’re hearing it correctly.  The tempos of both songs are very close.  The tempo of Marvin Gaye, I believe, is 125 beats per minute and I think Robin Thicke is 123.  I think it’s off by 2.

B:  Wow.

E:  So, what it would sound to most of us is identical.  It’s not like one’s very fast and one’s slow.  But the rhythm of those instruments – so far, we’re just talking about the accompaniment we just heard –  it’s not significant enough yet.  It’s like the intro to a book.  We haven’t gotten far into the book yet.

B:  OK.  And they use a pretty standard bass, guitar, drum lineup for instrumentation but there is this unusual percussion accent in both of them.  It sounds a little bit like a cowbell.  What do you think about that?

E:  Ah, that caught my attention right away.  What I think you’re referring to – to me, I thought it was a Coke bottle.  And I believe I read references to that many years ago when the song was new – Marvin Gaye’s song.  So I think they both are using, like a Coke bottle to cut through.  A Coke bottle has a particular timbre and a tonal quality – you know you hear it in the context more clearly.

B:  So that’s unusual and would also seem to be a direct reference, on the part of the makers of Blurred Lines, to the Marvin Gaye song.

E:  I think so.  I can’t name you 5 or 10 other songs with Coke bottles.

B:  But isn’t melody key?  Is there anything in Blurred Lines that reminds you of Marvin Gaye’s melody?

E:   I think… Good luck finding any exact melodies that are in common between the two.  The chord progressions in the two songs are extremely different.

In the Robin Thicke, in Blurred Lines, there are only two (2) chords:  A I (1) chord and a V (5) chord.  I believe it’s G Major and D Major.

In the Marvin Gaye, there are some very interesting chord progressions involving four (4) different chords – a I chord, a IV, a V, and a II (2) chord that’s major.  (The “ii chord” is usually minor.)

In the Robin Thicke, you’re just on this chord or you’re on that chord and that’s it.

B:  Hmm… That’s really interesting, So, you could make the argument that there’s a lot more going on melodically in Marvin Gaye’s song, but could a plaintiff argue that Blurred Lines is a dumbed down version of Got To Give It Up, but still a copy?

E:  That’s an interesting way of putting it – a dumbed down version.  You could say – and people do this – they use a song as an inspiration, it’s an influence surely, but it’s an inspiration and maybe it’s something you imitate.  They’re free to do that because you know, they haven’t copied it.  Maybe they haven’t copied enough of it, or the pertinent aspects.  Because sometimes in these court cases, there are some terms and some parts of music are most important.  Just like in a book you don’t say, “Well, how did you like page 87?  No one thinks, “I really loved 114!”

It [the determination of copyright infringement] has to be approached uniquely, kind of the way you’re going about this right now is the right way – isolating the elements and putting them together.  And then assessing [assigning] some strength and weight to each.

B:  Ok, so we’ve found some influences, maybe some similarities but some key divergences.

The moment of truth – in your expert opinion, would the Marvin Gaye estate have any chance of successfully suing in this case?

E:  I would say they wouldn’t win.  I am impartial in this – I could choose either side.  And I would choose Robin Thicke’s side.  I don’t think he has infringed copyright because of the big big “M word” – MELODY.

B:  Does it break your heart to side against Marvin Gaye?

E:  Ha!  In a way, I mean I love the music of Marvin Gaye but this is a different issue.  There’s stuff that conjures up Motown, and specifically that song.  But once you really look carefully these items you see, well, they’re all different though.

I have to just say a musical, a music theory, and legal analysis – put all that together – and to me it’s not an infringement.

B:  Michael.  Great to talk to you.  Thank you.

E:  Thank you very much.

B:  That was Dr. E. Michael Harrington in Birmingham, Alabama.  Dr. Harrington has worked as a consultant and expert witness in many music copyright trials.

And I want to know what you think.  What do your ears tell you?  Is Blurred Lines a blatant ripoff of Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up?”  Let us know.  Vote in our online poll.  It’s at .


Joe Escalante Will Interview Me Today About Robin Thicke v. Marvin Gaye


Joe Escalante Will Interview Me Today

About Robin Thicke v. Marvin Gaye 

This post’s interruptions are now getting interrupted.  The newest interruption led me to write poetic, rhyming verse.  (You can read this rhyme above and instantly realize why I do not write rhyming verse.)  The newest interruption is very cool – Attorney/Talk Show-Podcast-Netcast Host/Vandals Founder Joe Escalante will interview me live on KTLK-AM 1150 this afternoon at 9 PM EDT, 8 PM CDT, 7 PM MDT, 6 PM EDT.  If you are in Melbourne, Australia, the interview will be live tomorrow (way in the future – Monday) at 11 AM.

Do you know Joe?
I know Joe


I was interviewed about Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, and three (3) other music copyright infringement matters that are in the news nows, by ABC News on Friday, August 16, 2013.  Because they wanted higher fidelity and more reliable communication (I assume), they asked if they could call me on a landline.  And in 2013, I do not have a landline, printer or cable TV subscription.

So, I drove down to the studio and had a lot of fun being interviewed.  In fact, after I had talked for awhile and answered questions, I was told, “Thank you so much.”  I think I then asked,

“Thank you for what?”

“The interview.”

“That was it?  Wow!  That was fun!”

The interview was about Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines and whether it had infringed Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up, and whether Blurred Lines had infringed Funkadelic’s Sexy Ways.  _____________________________________________________________________________

Before I get into some of the items that are surrounding Robin Thicke, I’d like to pose a question about the introductions to two different songs –

Funkadelic’s Sexy Ways (released in 1974)


Diana Ross & The Supreme’s Love Child (released in 1968)

Both songs begin with solo electric guitar strumming chords that, to some, sound very similar.  Was the Supremes’ famous song’s famous intro copied by a related artist so audiences would pay attention to the rest of a newer, unfamiliar song?  Is the guitar intro of Sexy Ways copyright  infringement?  A rip off?  A theft?  A foolish idea presented in a blog?


But back to the Buzz of The Month – just how guilty is Robin Thicke?  Has he infringed not only one famous song –  Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up –  but has he also infringed another – Funkadelic’s Sexy Ways ?


I started to write the following re this Marvin Gaye v. Robin Thicke, or Robin Thicke v. Marvin Gaye stuff:

Listen to Marvin Gaye’s classic big hit, Got To Give It Up.  The groove of that song – funky bass, with percussion that might include a struck Coke bottle.

Gaye Q= 123

Thicke Q = 121

Very close in tempo.  So what?

Gaye is in the key of A Major.

Thicke is in the Key of G Major.

Gaye has a distinct chord progression.

Thicke has only two chords – the I chord and the V chord.

The “groove” sounds similar.  (The “groove” is similar.  Is a “groove” felt more than heard?  Felt and heard?)  The songs have a similar “feel.”  This leads to four (and many more) questions –

1.  What is a “groove?”

2.  How legally significant is a “groove?”

3.  What is a “feel?”

4.  How legally significant is a “feel?”

I then paused and went about other projects and work.  I didn’t know when or if I’d come back to it.  But then came the email from and interview by ABC News, which resulted in my August 19, 2013 post in which I answered questions about Robin Thicke v. Marvin Gaye (and Robin Thicke v. Funkadelic), Sara Bareilles v. Katy Perry, The Who v. One Direction, and Madonna v. Lady Gaga.  I was told about the article summarizing my ABC interview – I then posted it and moved on to other items and was going to leave the world of Robin Thicke until a friend told me that an attorney has posted on my site that he “strongly disagree[d]” with my analysis of the Thicke situation.  That lead me to quickly and briefly address his points.


Here is what I wrote to the attorney.  You can read his letter and my response here (August 19, 2013 post)

I agree with you that Marvin Gaye’s “groove” and “bounce” were “quite original.” But are there any music copyright infringement lawsuits in which “groove” and/or “bounce” (aside from sampling/sound recording copyright issues) were held to be copyrightable expression? Is there an agreed upon/standard definition of “groove” or “bounce” in any case law?

Can you cite for me a successful music composition (not sound recording, but music composition) copyright infringement lawsuit in which plaintiffs have prevailed when there was NO copying of MELODY, harmony or rhythm? Objectively, there is NO protectable expression (melody, harmony, etc.) that has been copied by Thicke.

What do you mean by “counterpoint of all the rhythm section instruments?” Has that phrase been used in any case law?

I would argue that Thicke is NOT an arrangement of Gaye because none of Gaye’s melodies, harmonies or harmonic rhythm were recreated. And because both songs have lyrics, it seems that there is no significant similarity of words/lyrics between Gaye and Thicke.

Gaye’s song uses 4 unique chords – the Gaye chord progression is: -I-IV-V-I-V/V-IV-V-I-V/V-I-. Thicke’s song uses 2 unique chords – the Thicke chord “progression is simply -I-V-. There is no copying of copyrightable expression involving harmonies of the two songs.

What is extremely close between the songs is the tempo: Gaye is approximately Q = 123; Thicke is approximately Q = 121. They are very close, not identical, but tempo is not copyrightable.

The accompanying percussion in both songs might both use a struck Coke bottle as well as typical drum set and cymbals. Instrumentation is not copyrightable.

I work extensively in advertising. In advertising, “referencing” is very common. Thicke, in my opinion, references Gaye, but does not infringe the copyright of Gaye.

Again, if there is an example of music copyright infringement WITHOUT the copying of MELODY, please let me know.



Now, for the other possibly problematic musical similarity –

Listen to Funkadelic’s 1974 song, Sexy Ways.  Never mind the little joke from above – is the Funkadelic opening electric guitar solo strumming an infringement of the opening electric guitar solo strumming of The Supremes’ “Love Child.”  

But pay attention to the first vocal melody, -3-5-3-2-1-, sung to the words, “I just want to say” at 0.08-0.10 of the song.  Even though the words, “I just want to say,” occur four (4) more times in SEXY WAYS, the melody -3-5-3-2-1- never occurs again.  This itty bitty less-than-two-second melody (-3-5-3-2-1-) is only heard once in the song.

This same itty bitty less-than-two-second melodic phrase, -3-5-3-2-1-, is heard in Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. Uh-oh.  But when -3-5-3-2-1- occurs in Blurred Lines, it is no longer itty bitty.  It is now larger.  (If 3-5-3-2-1- gets one more note, perhaps it becomes “bitty,” and “itty bitty” is rendered inappropriate.)

3-5-3-2-1 of Sexy Ways has now grown to

3-5-3-2-1-6 of Blurred Lines.

Oh no – we’re back on 3-5-3-2-1 which means 3-5-3-2-1-6 is nearby (they are very closely related obviously).  But this leads me back to several posts of mine re Gretchen Wilson and the copyright infringement action brought against her.  Part of that was discussed in my July 28, 2013 Who’s Tripping Down The Streets Of The City post, so I will not repeat it here.


Good News for Robin, Katy & One Direction: Music Copyright Expert Says Nobody’s Ripping Off Anybody

Christmas Decorations With Shallow Depth of Field

Three minutes of Robin Thicke, Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic, Katy Perry, Sara Bareilles, One Direction, The Who, Lady Gaga and Madonna.


I was interviewed about Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, and three (3) other music copyright infringement matters that are in the news now, by ABC News on Friday, August 16, 2013.  Because they wanted higher fidelity and more reliable communication (I assume), they asked if they could call me on a landline.  And in 2013, I do not have a landline, printer or cable TV subscription.

Living in Nashville, and relatively close to downtown, I drove down to the studio and had a lot of fun being interviewed.  In fact, after I had talked for awhile and answered questions, I was told, “Thank you so much.”  I think I then asked,

“Thank you for what?”

“The interview.”

“That was it?  Wow!  That was fun!”

Now to the ABC article, reprinted below.  (The title of this post is borrowed from the title of the ABC article below.):


From the ABC News interview with me:

Hey music fans: it’s time to stop accusing artists of ripping off other artists.  Because according to an expert in music copyright law, nobody really has a case.

Exhibit #1: Robin Thicke‘s “Blurred Lines.”  Robin and his co-writers just went to court to to establish that “Blurred Lines” doesn’t rip off two particular songs: Marvin Gaye‘s “Got to Give It Up. Pt.1” and “Sexy Ways,” by the group Funkadelic.   But let’s say Robin was to get sued anyway.  Would he lose? Music copyright law professor Dr. E. Michael Harrington says no.

Dr. Harrington, who’s on the faculty of the Berklee College of Music, has served as an expert witness in hundreds of music copyright matters.  Comparing “Blurred Lines” to “Got to Give It Up,” he says, “I can hear the similarity and you can see where maybe they’re even copying or even imitating…the style of ‘Got to Give It Up.’  And I can hear that right away…but the melody’s not that close at all, so the copyrightable parts of this are really not that significant.”

As for “Sexy Ways,” Harrington says, “The opening melody of it is similar to a section about 1:26 into Robin Thicke’s song…and that’s very close, but that’s very brief, but I don’t think it’s that original.”  That’s the key, according to Harrington: if what you’re copying isn’t that original to begin with, and has been used many times before, it’s fine.

Exhibit #2: Katy Perry‘s “Roar.”  Fans have been up in arms about the fact that the song’s intro sounds remarkably like the intro to “Brave” by Sara Bareilles. In fact, Katy is an admitted fan of Sara’s song.  But could Sara sue Katy for ripping her off?  Again, Harrington says no.

“There are some similarities but nothing significant,” he explains. “They’re both in the key of B flat. And they keep repeating this piano [part]…but so what? That’s called a repeated chord. It’s just, y’know, that’s part of a style. There’s nothing really there. I mean, I could break it down technically, more, but I would say don’t bother filing that lawsuit.”

Exhibit #3: One Direction‘s “Best Song Ever.”  There were rumors that the legendary rock band The Who was going to sue the British boy banders because the intro to that song sounds like their 1971 classic “Baba O’Riley.”  Who guitarist Pete Townshend, who wrote the song, says he has no plans to sue, but could he if he wanted to?  Harrington says sorry, but no.

“I mean I can definitely hear the similarity,” he says, but points out that the notes used in the Who song and the notes in the 1D song are different. “Two of the three notes are the same,” he says, “But you’re talking about just, the basic, kinda…’get into this bass note, to this chord, and this bass note.’ That can’t be an infringement.”

Harrington adds, “It’s kind of what they do in the advertising world. You always hear something that sounds like something else, but they know how to come close to reference it. They call it referencing. So One Direction, I would definitely say they’re definitely referencing The Who.”

Exhibit #4: Lady Gaga‘s “Applause.”  Fans of Madonna and Gaga have been feuding for ages now, and more fuel was added to the fire when Madonna’s fans accused Gaga of ripping off the Queen of Pop’s song “Girl Gone Wild” in the chorus for “Applause.”  Do they have a point?  Harrington says not even close.

“No, and I listened a few times,” he laughs. “The others, I can hear things, but this…I don’t get it.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio




Who’s tripping down the streets of the city? Robin Thicke?


In my last post, I explained some of my reasoning, analysis and conclusions about the Black Crowes’ action against Gretchen Wilson.  The Black Crowes felt that their song, Jealous Again had been infringed by Gretchen Wilson’s song, Work Hard, Play Harder.  I strongly disagreed.

Both songs have a very similar 6-note melodic phrase in common.  The first 5 notes are the same, but the 6th is different.  The Black Crowes’ 6th note is scale degree “6.”  Gretchen Wilson’s 6th note is indeterminate.

My conclusions from the previous post:

1.  The short melodic phrase, 3-5-3-2-1-6,  is not the same as 3-5-3-2-1-x.

2.  The Black Crowes’ 3-5-3-2-1-6  is not the same as Gretchen Wilson’s 3-5-3-2-1-x.

3.  The Black Crowes sing the short melodic phrase, 3-5-3-2-1-6, three (3) times in their song.

4.  The sum of the Black Crowes’ 3-5-3-2-1 phrases last, at most, 6 seconds out of the 267 seconds of their song.

5.  The Black Crowes’ 3-5-3-2-1-6 statements account for 2% of their song.


Questions raised in the previous post now answered:

1.  If Artist B copied a less-than-2-second phrase from Artist A (that when repeated in Artist A’s song amounted to 2% of Artist A’s song), should Artist A be entitled to 50% of Artist B’s profits?  

Answer:  NO

2.  Is awarding 50% of Artist B’s copyright to Artist A sufficient recompense for the copy of 2% of Artist A’s copyright?

Answer:  NO

3.  Is awarding 50% of Artist B’s copyright to Artist A excessive recompense for the copy of 2% of Artist A’s copyright?

Answer:  YES

4.  Do the Black Crowes deserve copyright protection for the less-than-2-second “3-5-3-2-1-6” melodic phrase?

Answer:  NO

5.  Were the Black Crowes the first to compose/create the less-than-2-second “3-5-3-2-1-6” melodic phrase?

Answer:  NO

6.  If they were NOT the first to compose/create the 3-5-3-2-1-6 do they own copyright in 3-5-3-2-1-6?

Answer:  NO, particularly because this melodic phrase is so brief and unoriginal.

7.  Can one own copyright in a less-than-2-second melodic phrase?

Answer:  POSSIBLY.  If the expression is original and substantial, it could be possible to own copyright in a less-than-2-second melodic phrase.

8.  Can one own copyright in the Black Crowes’ specific  less-than-2-second melodic phrase, i.e. 3-5-3-2-1-6?

Answer:  NO.  It is not original or substantial.


Other music that features 3-5-3-2-1-6

As mentioned, the Black Crowes were NOT the first to originate or create the 3-5-3-2-1-6 motive.  Other songs/compositions written before Jealous Again also use the 3-5-3-2-1-6 melody.  These include:

Stevie Wonder – I Wish

Technically, the melodic phrase Stevie Wonder sings is similar (not identical) to 3-5-3-2-1-6 and sung over two chords, not one.  This short melodic phrase also occupies a significant amount of I Wish.

I Wish is from Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life album and was released in 1976.

0.18   “Looking back on when I…”

0.20  “Was a little…”

0.27  “Then my only worry…”

0.29  “Was for…”

0.45  “Sneaking out the back door…”

0.47  “Hang out…”

0.54  “Greeted at the back door…”

0.56  “Thought I…”

1.39  “Brother says he’s tellin’…”

1.42  “Caught you…”

1.48  “Just don’t tell I’ll give you…”

1.50  “Anything…”

2.06  “Smoking cigarettes and…”

2.08  “Writing something…”

2.16  “Teacher sends you to the…”

2.18  “Principal’s office…”

The Association – Windy

In Windy, the 3-5-3-2-1-6 melody also occurs although with a slightly different rhythm.  Also, the final “6” of the phrase is up from the “1” and not down from the “1.”  The 3-5-3-2-1-6 melodic phrase is sung over three chords.  The 3-5-3-2-1-6 melodic phrase is extremely prominent throughout Windy.

Windy is from The Association’s Insight Out album and was released in 1967.

0.00  instrumental



0.14  “Who’s peeking…”

0.18  “Calling a name…”

0.21  “Who’s bending…”

0.31  “Who’s tripping…”

0.34  “Smiling at…”

0.37  “Who’s reaching…”

1.07  flute



1.42  “Who’s tripping…”

1.46  “Smiling at…”

1.50  “Who’s reaching…”

1.57  “Who’s tripping…”

2.01  “Smiling at…”

2.05  “Who’s reaching…”

2.12  “Who’s tripping…”

2.15  “Smiling at…”

2.19  “Who’s reaching…”

2.26  “Who’s tripping…”

2.30  “Smiling at…”

2.34  “Who’s reaching…”

2.40  “Who’s tripping…”

2.44  “Smiling at…”

2.48  “Who’s reaching…”

Windy is 174 seconds long (2 minutes and 54 seconds).

The 3-5-3-2-1-6 is heard in Windy between 0.00-0.09, 0.14-0.24, 0.31-0.40, 1.07-1.17, 1.42-1.53, 1.57-2.07. 2.12-2.21, 2.26-2.36 and 2.41-2.51.

The 3-5-3-2-1-6 is NOT heard in Windy between 0.10-0.13, 0.25-0.30, 0.41-1.06, 1.18-1.41, 1.54-1.56, 2.08-2.11, 2.22-2.25, 2.37-2.40 and 2.52-2.54.

*The Association’s 3-5-3-2-1-6 statements account for 49% of Windy.*


The melodic phrase, 3-5-3-2-1-6, also is heard in

Gustav Holst – Two Songs Without Words, Op. 22

Edward MacDowell – Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 15


Sue some more?

A famous hit song written AFTER Jealous Again that uses the 3-5-3-2-1-6 melody is Robin Thicke’s mega-hit, Blurred Lines.  Why mention music written AFTER the plaintiff’s song?

1.  It could give the parties who initiated the legal action against Gretchen Wilson

something else to do


someone else to sue

2.  And suing Robin Thicke and associated parties would be BIG FISH to fry – they have made a lot of money from Blurred Lines.

3.  But realistically, and using better judgment, it also shows that the 3-5-3-2-1-6 expressed as it is in Jealous Again is NOT copyrightable and does not deserve copyright protection.

4.  The 3-5-3-2-1-6 melodic phrase is short and in the public domain – these notes have been and are being used by others.

Robin Thicke (featuring T.I. and Pharrell) – Blurred Lines

1.23  “What do they make dreams for”

1.28  “What do we need steam for”

Blurred Lines is from Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines album and was released in 2013.

This and the previous two (2) posts are NOT expert witness reports.  They are merely initial findings presented informally.

H A P P Y   S U N D A Y   to everyone!