DK goes song-by-song thru Madness and Morals: Suspicions

Now we’re getting somewhere.  Now we are at the heart both of the social character of art and of the essence of creativity.  You should really listen to Madness and Morals in the order that we carefully devised for the songs, the order that begins with “Suspicions.”  If you listen to the proper sequence of songs, you will hear the album open with the bracing chords of “Suspicions”: chang-CHANG-ka-chank-chank.  And if I had heard those chords in my childhood, I would have immediately recognized them as the opening of a song that I loved.  Now, I would have been mistaken because the chords are not exactly the same as those in the popular song, but they are certainly close enough to exhibit a strong family resemblance.  If I had heard the opening of “Suspicions” in the tender days of youth, I would have recognized it as the opening of “Not Fade Away” by the Rolling Stones.  Of course, my sophisticated reader will have already corrected my youthful self: the Rolling Stones performed a distinguished version of this, one of many great songs by Buddy Holly.  But “Not Fade Away” is not by the Stones.  Beyond doubt the Stones (or their handlers) acquired the use of the song by the permission—doubtless accompanied by royalty payments—of the Holly estate, or whoever owned the copyright at that point in the mid-sixties.  So while I borrowed an instrumental figure, the Stones presumably paid for the use of a whole song.  Several points are worth noting here.  For one thing, let’s not sentimentalize copyright as protecting artists (or their heirs).  Once established, copyright is a portable, not to say fungible, asset to be bought and sold subject to market conditions.  And the market for copyrights can’t be as favorable today as it was in the sixties.  At the risk of oversimplification, for I’m sure there are exceptions, digital media are Continue reading

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