Presentation on theme: "My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue"— Presentation transcript:
1 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Len Rabinowitz
2 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue The Songs: You DecideHe’s So Fine recorded in 1962Topped US Billboard chartsBeatles not big in US in 1962Song reached number 12 in England in 1963 during a week that the Beatles were number 1Harrison admitted that he knew the song
3 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue He’s So Fine languishedMy Sweet Lord generated in jam session with Billy Preston, Question of authorshipPreston released the song before Harrison- Harrison listed as sole authorSong was a huge hit when recorded and released by HarrisonBright Tunes Music- the owner of He’s So Fine- brought suit on February 10, 1971Billy Preston and George Harrison withPresident Ford, 1974
4 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Judge (a musician, but more classically oriented- less improvisational) focused on two phrases of melodyOther major differences not consideredHarrison knew of earlier song; claimed no intentHarrison found guilty of “subconscious plagiarism”Judge: “Perfectly obvious… the two songs are virtually identical”Upheld on appeal; Intent not necessary for plagiarismJudge’s decision centered onthese phrases
5 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Initial decision came in 1976Early decision that got musicians thinking about “influence” and “original”Professional digital recording began a few years laterDigital audio sampling- artists using phrases from other artists in recordings- was huge issue in the 1980’s for musicians, well before MP3 for consumersThis Yamaha recorder allows samplingCD’s into your own recordings
6 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Ethical AnalysisKant, 1st formulation:“Act only from moral rules that you can at the same time will to be universal moral laws”Can musicians unconsciously borrow from each other?Proposed Rule: Musicians can unconsciously borrow from each otherMusicians have always influenced and borrowed each other; Impossible to eradicate influencesUniversal Rule: Musicians may unconsciously borrow from each otherMusicians continue making music as they always haveRule is acceptable; Under this analysis judge got it wrongA stressed-out musician
7 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Kant, 2nd Formulation“Act so that you treat both yourself and other people as ends in themselves and never only as means to an end”Improvisatory musicians use their influences as means to an endMusicians must consider or cite influences before playingJudge’s decision likely correct under this formulationA musician “fighting the power!”
8 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Social Contract TheoryLaw is a form of social contractCurrent law recognizes intellectual property and says works are born copyrightedModern musician’s heavy use of borrowing and influences without citation likely violates social contract of lawBy this analysis behavior of modern musicians is unethical
9 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue The Cardinal Virtues:Judgment: Harrison showed poor judgment in writing the song as written. He could have known it was too similarHonesty: Harrison was honest in acknowledging knowledge of the other songPrudence: Writing songs for popular consumption is not a prudent actCourage: Writing songs for popular consumption is courageousJustice: Justice was eventually done for the owner of the song- not necessarily the performer. Harrison was harmedSelf mastery: Complex. Harrison could have thought this through more. However, professional songwriting requires considerable focus and determination.On the whole, Harrison’s actions come up short in the cardinal virtues
10 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue References:The “My Sweet Lord”/”He’s So Fine” Plagiarism Suit. Article written by Joseph C. Self, Accessed on July 12, 2008.George Harrison and The Chiffons. Author unknown. Accessed on July 12, 2008.
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