Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday is Blues Day (#2)

Today's post is about the blues, but in a less direct fashion than last week's.

What do When the Levee Breaks, Dazed and Confused, and Whole Lotta Love have in common? If your answer was "Led Zeppelin didn't write any of them, but they pretended to" then you win a gold star. I could dedicate whole chapters to this topic, but I'll keep it relatively short and to-the-point: Zep were notorious plagiarists, and while they stole from musicians in several styles, their blues idols took the brunt of this musical theft. Sometimes songs were copied almost exactly. In some cases, the songs were altered considerably. In other cases, lyrics lifted from one song might be set to music copied from another. Or a few songs might all be strung together into one longer medley. In nearly all cases, though, the common thread was that the original artists were not given credit by the band.

I love Led Zeppelin's music as much as the next guy, but this is a striking example of the infamous '50s and '60s pattern of rock artists profiteering off the work of pioneering blues artists. Taking inspiration is great, but while guys like Eric Clapton openly champion their musical heroes, other artists engaged in far shadier behaviors. It bothers me, since I like to see credit given where credit is due. In that spirit, today I'd like to share a few old blues tunes that may seem a bit familiar.

There are tons of examples, in various forms, so now that I've posted a few of the original songs in their entirety, here is just one of many Zeppelin plagiarism samplers available on Youtube. Enjoy!

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