On May 21, 2011 Adele scored her first No.1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Rolling In The Deep.” Topping the charts in over 20 countries, it became the best selling digital song over by a female artist in the US. It serves as a springboard for today’s music blog, songs containing “Roll” or “Rolling” in their title. “Rock & Roll” songs are excluded, as they are addressed in a forthcoming blog. Here is the sultry songstress after her extreme makeover.
“Rolling In The Deep” – Adele (London Palladium, November 6, 2021):
The title of the blog is a nod to Steve Winwood’s 80’s great of the same name, “Roll With It”:
Interestingly, perhaps to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit, as Ed Sheeran recently battled, Winwood’s publisher eventually credited Motown songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland with co-writing the song due to its resemblance to Junior Walker’s “(I’m A) Roadrunner.” You be the judge, but I suspect you’ll agree with the similarity.
“(I’m A) Roadrunner” – Junior Walker & The Allstars
That leads me to a little aside on song similarities. There are only so many chord combinations and progressions that can create great music. I would suggest that as long as entire songs and melodies aren’t lifted, some resemblance is almost inevitable from time to time. Perhaps, when realized, artists should just give a nod to the other songwriters and be done with it. Here are the Sheeran-Gaye songs for your consideration. I didn’t even hear the similarity initially, as the melodies are entirely different, but the exact same cord progression for several the measures are hard to argue with.
Recently deceased Gordon Lightfoot noticed in 1986 the similarity in several bars of his “If You Could Read My Mind” and Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love Of All.” Listen to his lines “And you won’t read that book again because the ending’s just too hard to take” and her lines “I decided long ago to never hide in anyone’s shadow.” Since listening to these 2 songs with that knowledge, if trying to sing one of the songs I can’t keep the other from blending in. Gordon dropped a plagiarism lawsuit when realizing how much it was weighing on Whitney.
And as I have discussed in a previous blog, the bass riff from Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” is lifted from Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” a totally reimagined cover of Joan Baez’s awful original, unrecognizable as the same song (also addressed in my previous blog on covers, “Cover Me.” And while we’re on Led Zeppelin, did Robert Plant steal the opening guitar riff of “Stairway to Heaven” from Spirit’s “Taurus”?
And many songwriters do borrow, sample, and appropriate, usually giving credit to artists they have ripped off – think Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” steeling Queen’s “Under Pressure,” MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” borrowing from Rick James “Supe Freak,” or Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” and it’s “Sweet Home Alabama” guitar riff, even nod to the song in the lyrics, as well as borrowing piano licks from Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves Of London.”
And even Robert Plant himself recorded the song “Tall Cool One” that sampled guitar riffs from “Black Dog,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “The Ocean,” “Custard Pie,” and lyrics from “Black Dog.” He even enlisted his former Zep bandmate Jimmy Page to play the riffs. I guess that way he didn’t have to worry about suing himself or the band suing him 🤣.
One interesting a-ha (not the 80’s band of the same name, though they do appear in the Stolen and Sampled Songs playlist) moment I had in college was listening to Billy Joel’s “This Night” from his Innocent Man album. When listening, the melody of the chorus kept running around in my brain, when I finally realized it was directly lifted from Ludwig von Beethoven’s Second Movement of his Pathetique Sonata. I confirmed it by pulling out and listening to my Beethoven album (yes I had Beethoven albums in college, and remember this was pre-internet search capabilities). Then I frantically pulled out the vinyl album’s liner notes, incredulous that my beloved Billy would plagiarize. But there it was in black & white, something to the effect of “All music & lyrics by Billy Joel except chorus to ‘This Night’ by L.V. Beethoven.” Good job, Billy!
And speaking of Gordon and Billy, in the wake of Gordon’s death, Billy Joel posted a tribute and offered that he wrote his songs “You’re My Home” and “She’s Always A Women” trying to emulate the sound of Gordon Lightfoot. I can’t listen to these songs any longer without hearing Gordon’s voice singing them. I wish he would have covered them during his lifetime. It would have been cool.
Here’s Billy’s playing tribute to Gordon at a recent Madison Square Garden concert with Gord’s classic “Sundown.” He modulates his voice to sound a bit like the Canadian crooner:
Continuing to go down the rabbit hole, you again be the judge, does this Barbie song sound like Pink Floyd’s “The Trial”?
Barbie as the Princess & The Pauper with “How Can I Refuse”
Now for Floyd song:
And for that matter, does “The Trial” sound like Jesus Christ Superstar’s “Pilate and Christ,” also a trial?
Here is the bonus playlist of Stolen and Sampled Songs for your listening pleasure. You be the judge of song similarities of the first portion of the playlist, the songs I have referred to listed at the very beginning, and then enjoy sampled songs as well to complete the playlist:
Now back from our trip to Wonderland to the theme of the blog – Roll songs. Here are some notable songs and videos:
“Shake, Rattle & Roll” – Bill Haley & The Comets, with such a great glimpse into the 50’s:
“Roll On” – Kid Rock, with some cool locales in the Music City, the home of Motown, his hometown Detroit:
“Like A Rolling Stone” – Bob Dylan, back in the early days, a cool trip to the 60’s:
“Cover Of The Rolling Stone” – Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, while not my favorite Dr. Hook song, it was catchy and definitely got a fair amount of airplay in the 70’s, and you gotta love the attire:
“Rolling Stone” – Lainey Wilson. I can’t believe I saw her at the Beaufort Water Fest 2 years ago as the warm up to Rodney Atkins for like $20. Talk about a steal – both in price, and her stealing the show. Now she’s one of the hottest things in country:
So while Credence Clearwater Revival originated, and Tina Turner covered admirably, if not quintessentially, John Krasinski took “Proud Mary” to a new level. If you haven’t seen John’s performance, this is a “must watch.”
So yet another rabbit hole. For those not familiar with John’s show “Lip Synch Battle,” here is one of the most outstanding performances from the show, Joseph Gordon Levitt with Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation”:
However, nothing can top Tom Holland’s performance, channeling Gene Kelly and Rihanna with “Singin’ In The Rain/Umbrella”:
So back to the playlist. There are some great “Roll” songs. I’m reserving “Rock & Roll” for a later blog, with several playlists of its own. Enjoy the music, roll on:
I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew. Rediscover the passion of music in your life.
Live in the moment.
Enjoy the moment.
Love the moment.
Listen to the MUSIC!