February 02, 2015

Tom Petty Calls Sam Smith Song "A Musical Accident"


This kind of things has happened before and it will happen again.
Unlike the author of this article I think the similarity is unmistakable.

Tom Petty has issued a statement to say similarity between Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ and his own ‘I Won’t Back Down’ is just a “musical accident”.

However, Petty was not content to walk away from the “accident” instead deciding to fill his own bank account on the way from Smith’s earnings.

Petty and Smith settled out of court with Petty (and I Won’t Back Down co-writer Jeff Lynne) now credited on the Smith song with what is believed to be 12.5% cut of proceeds from the song. That could be worth millions over time.


In a statement, Petty said, “About the Sam Smith thing. Let me say I have never had any hard feelings toward Sam. All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by. Sam’s people were very understanding of our predicament and we easily came to an agreement. The word lawsuit was never even said and was never my intention. And no more was to be said about it. How it got out to the press is beyond Sam or myself. Sam did the right thing and I have thought no more about this. A musical accident no more no less. In these times we live in this is hardly news. I wish Sam all the best for his ongoing career. Peace and love to all.”

Similarities between ‘Stay With Me’ and ‘I Won’t Back Down’ are near impossible to detect but Petty’s legal eagles with the superhearing of Superman have managed to do so. You need to speed up the Smith song and slow down the Petty song before they even start to overlap.
This is not the first time a Tom Petty song has been featured in a plagiarism case but the last time Tom was the one being accused.

In 2002, the Tom Petty hit ‘The Last DJ’ came under fire from unknown Californian singer songwriter Jim Wagner who had earlier written and then sent a demo of his song ‘The Last Great DJ’ to KLOS radio announcer Jim Ladd.

Ladd liked the song so much that he wanted to use it as his theme. Ladd was also a mate of Petty’s who also happened to be a regular visitor to the studios for interviews with Ladd.
Not long after Wagner sent his demo to Ladd, Petty released his song ‘The Last DJ’, also about Jim Ladd.

Reality check: The law is not about right or wrong, it is about the man with the deepest pockets. The wealthy Petty soon drained the financial resources of the unknown Wagner of any hope of continuing his pursuit of justice. In the end, Wagner withdrew his legal claim because he could not afford to continue.

To recap, the score in the current season of LA Law is Petty 2, Smith 0, Wagner 0.


By Paul Cashmere

With thanks to Noise 11

More from the Australian 17th April by Markus Berkmann:

Songwriting credits are, as we know, not always to be trusted. Since the dawn of music publishing, there has always been a manager or an agent or a well-connected representative of organised crime willing to take a small cut of a song’s royalties, in return for services rendered or threats not carried out. (true!)
Who actually wrote any song? Well, we know that Bob Dylan wrote Subterranean Homesick Blues, but after that it gets a little murky. Lennon-McCartney songs, after the first couple of albums, were written by John Lennon or Paul McCartney but rarely by ­Lennon-McCartney.

The Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony, notoriously, sampled more of Andrew Loog Oldham’s orchestral version of The Rolling Stones’ The Last Time than it probably should have, and thus the song carries the credit ‘‘Jagger-Richards-Ashcroft’’, with the two Stones getting 100 per cent of the money and Verve’s Richard Ashcroft having to make do with a slightly disappointing 0 per cent. Allen Klein, that legendary enforcer, insisted on the full whack or the record would have to be withdrawn from the shops. Remember records? Remember shops?

Every song, of course, sounds a little like another song, except possibly for Wuthering Heights. (I disagree with this. It is possible that younger, newer stars are simply not familiar with the older songs.)

It’s only when similarities become uncanny that the lawyers are called in.

Most recently, chubby young awards magnet Sam Smith settled out of court with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne after someone noticed that Smith’s Stay With Me bore a striking resemblance in the tune department to Petty’s I Won’t Back Down. ‘‘All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen,’’ said Petty, unpettily. ‘‘Most times you catch it before it gets out of the studio door but in this case it got by. Sam’s people were very understanding of our predicament and we easily came to an agreement.’’ In other words, make cheques payable to T. Petty Esq.

The errant Smith and his co-writers said they were ‘‘not previously familiar’’ with the Petty track, which I suppose is just about pos­sible. Stay With Me won Grammys for record of the year and song of the year — because obviously those are two very different things — but Petty and Lynne’s contribution was not acknowledged by the Recording Academy, as they were deemed to have done ‘‘no new work’’ in writing the song. As opposed to the very hard work the others had put in, writing the same song again purely by coincidence.

Who are these co-writers, anyway? Names, just names. Professional songwriters are everywhere, credited in ever-lengthening lists on every new song you hear. Singers can no longer be just singers, valued for their pipes and their infallible dress sense; they must also be songwriters, whether or not they can write songs. So they note down a few useless, illiterate lyrics and the ‘‘music guys’’ come in and build a song around them.

It’s remarkable how many professional songwriters are people who had a go at being performers and didn’t sell as many records as their talents might have merited. I see that Dan Wilson, once of power poppers Semisonic, has been working with the Dixie Chicks, Taylor Swift and John Legend, and co-wrote Adele’s Someone Like You. And one of my favourite songwriters, Gary Clark, who wrote and sang Mary’s Prayer for Danny Wilson and many other songs that should have been hits, now lives in the US and shapes whole albums for the likes of Natalie Imbruglia and Delta Goodrem. As they say, it’s a living.

In such a world it can be hard for real singer-songwriters to stand out. Both my children are unfeasibly obsessed with Ed Sheeran’s albums, so I have heard rather more of them than I may have wished. But I have to admit he’s not bad. There isn’t much of a voice — its limitations are painfully exposed — but he writes a nifty lyric, works with proper people (Pharrell Wil­liams, Rick Rubin) and writes songs with tunes that don’t all sound like each other.

These are old-fashioned pop values, but somehow the public ignored all this and made Sheeran’s x Britain’s bestselling album last year. Then last month silly old ginger Ed with his try-hard tattoos picked up one or two of the Brit Awards that Smith didn’t win. Lucky boy, although if he isn’t co-writing the hits of someone much younger and prettier in 15 years, and saying he much prefers being ‘‘out of the limelight’’, he will have done well.
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