More sampling

Ron Resnick (
Fri, 29 Aug 1997 12:59:02 +0200

"Mick not familiar with lang's song"

>``There's only so many notes in the Western scale, there's only so many
>combinations of those that are going to sound pleasing,''

My 2 bits on this:
'Sampling' is fine. When Bernstein does West Side Story by aggressively
sampling Shakespeare, do we complain? Or what about mimics like
Rich Little - they're 'sampling' their subjects, but the whole art is
actually in the ripoff - not the original. Richard Nixon is not
an artist. Rich Little *doing* Richard Nixon is.

Or take the tradition in performance of classical music, where there's
a historic separation between the "artist" (the composer who wrote the
piece) and the "other artists" (conductor&orchestra who perform it).
Do we accuse NY Philharmonic for ripping off Beethoven or Brahms?
Usually we attribute artistry both to composer *and* to successful
conductors/performers/orchestras. Versions of the same score performed
by different orchestras are thought of as *different* pieces of art,
worth listening to, enjoying, and recording, distinctly.

Any creative subject (music, literature, arts, and yes - academic
software, ideas in general) builds on what preceding generations have
built. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Nothing is ever

So, I think it's all fine, so long as (a) there's proper attribution
when it's due - which is why Cringley using Rohit as a ghostwriter
sort of irks me - we know who really said all those smart things, right?
(b) In the specific case of rappers sampling older classics, I think
they have the same legitimate right to do it as anyone else. I just
don't have to like their covers personally, that's all. They don't
speak to me. I'm of "The Big Chill" generation, apparently,
not the "Boyz N the Hood" generation.

Aside: Does the world really *need* yet another Stones
album/world tour?? (YASAWT) I like 'em and all, but....??


It's only rock 'n' roll but it can also be a legal minefield.

Just ask The Rolling Stones after they recorded a song that sounded
a bit too much like k.d. lang's 1992 hit ``Constant Craving.'' They
recently acted swiftly to avoid a potentially embarrassing lawsuit by
extending songwriting credits to lang and her Vancouver-based
partner, Ben Mink.

On the soon-to-be released Bridges To Babylon, the credits on the first
single, ``Anybody Seen By Baby,'' will read: written by M. Jagger,
K. Richards, k.d. lang-B. Mink. The CD is in stores Sept. 22 and the
tour starts the following night at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Yesterday Mick Jagger, who is in Toronto rehearsing for the world tour
with the band, released a short statement about the matter. ``I really
admire k.d. as a singer, but I wasn't familiar with the song,'' he said
through his New York spokesperson, Fran Curtis, of Rogers & Cowan.

Lang, also through the Stones publicist - her manager, Larry Wanagas,
wasn't returning calls yesterday - issued a statement that sounded like
the matter has been put to rest. ``I've always been a fan of the Rolling
Stones, and take it as quite a compliment.''

Curtis said the Stones' CD was already at the manufacturing stage when
``someone mentioned that a part of `Anybody Seen My Baby' did sound
somewhat like k.d.'s `Constant Craving'.

``They didn't want to delay production, the band really wanted to get
the album moving . . . and they also wanted to make sure that everything
was absolutely proper.''

Curtis said she doesn't know who noticed the similarities.

Mink confirmed yesterday that lawyers for the superstars contacted him
``out of the blue and just offered this.''

``They were gentlemen to do this,'' he said from Vancouver.

Mink, who has worked with lang for over a decade, said he heard the
single over the phone and ``part of it definitely does'' sound like his
lang's hit, featured on 1992's best-selling Ingenue.

The last-minute addition of the lang-Mink credit underscores the demands
artists face to keep their material original and fresh, not easy even if
you happen to be one of the most successful songwriting teams in the
history of pop music.

``There's only so many notes in the Western scale, there's only so many
combinations of those that are going to sound pleasing,'' said Paul
Sanderson, a Toronto entertainment lawyer who has written a book on
musicians and the law.

``Coupled with the fact that we're exposed to a huge amount of pop
so your chances of plagiarism or copyright infringement increase.''

Music publishers and record companies are increasingly vigilant vetting
material to ensure credit is given where it's due, especially with the
rise of sampling, which can range from a reappropriated guitar riff and
drum rhythm. Ex-policeman Sting's bank balance is growing bigger by the
second thanks to Puff Daddy and Faith Evans' worldwide smash hit this
summer, ``I'll Be Missing You,'' a track that heavily samples
``Every Breath You Take.''

``These days if you sample a beat that's recognizable you have to clear
said Sanderson, noting there are examples of some artists forcing others
withdraw records from stores for uncredited sampling.

Sanderson said artists are extremely mindful about copying other
material but
it's not always clear-cut, as the Stones example shows. ``You're not
conscious about what you may have copied,'' he said. ``There's an old
in the music industry - where there's a hit there's a writ.''