Long live rock, I need it every night

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Is imitation the highest form of flattery? Or is it just stealing?

Very often when listening to a song you hear something familiar flashing by. Having never played a musical instrument, I lack the vocabulary to describe what I'm hearing (is it a lick, a chord sequence, an arpeggio, a bridge? I dunno). But like the Supreme Court and obscenity, I know it when I hear it. And believe me, I am skilled in spotting obscenity. Sometimes I go out of my way to find it.

But I digress. My point is, I may not know how to express it, but I've listened to a lot of music and I think I'm pretty good at recognizing portions of songs that are "borrowed." I can see how some people can get bent out of shape about it, but music is inherently collaborative and everybody borrows from everyone else.

One interesting point raised by this whole issue is, to what degree should songs borrow from one another? If it's just a little bit, there's really no point to it. I read somewhere that one problem with Rush is, they're all such great musicians that they were too proud to borrow from their influences (Led Zeppelin, ELP, King Crimson, etc) and as such were always fated to be, at their best, just above average. Whereas, someone like Oasis steals from the Beatles, Paul Weller and the Kinks, and makes no bones about it, and it sounds great.

Plus also, Rush is Canadian, so a certain level of mediocrity is in their DNA, and they'll never get past that.

Anyway, I bring it up because at the LCD Soundsystem show on Sunday night the live version of "All My Friends" fucking killed. As I was freaking out and gyrating my nether regions to the beat, I thought I caught a little bit of "Run" by New Order. It's not so obvious but I can hear it a little bit, and I think a band like LCD Soundsystem probably listened to a lot of New Order back in the day. Anyway, you be the judge, here's both for your listening/viewing pleasure:

New Order, Run:

LCD Soundsystem, All My Friends:


Jumbo Slice said...

Good discussion point, Jimbromski. Borrowing from musicians you admire is fine. Dylan was famous for cribbing from others (common practice in folk music). The key is to not just mimic an artist or band. You have to make a new sound, something different and, hopefully, better.

LCD Soundsystem borrowing from New Order shows what happens when you do it right. "All My Friends" is a great song. The flip side is a band like Cedars. Their goal is not to be creative. Instead they just parrot U2 and Coldplay, hoping to get a record deal. That's why Cedars, as one commenter eloquently stated, suck GIANT horse cock.

Jimbromski said...

Man, Cedars get a bad rap around here. I wonder where that commenter went, that was amusing that he dropped in just to say that. That indicates to me that Cedars-hatred runs deep.