The story of Bo Diddley
posted at 8/22/2011 1:11 PM EDT
Many moons ago, in my vaguely recalled youth, I had an interesting conversation that shed light on what kind of music fan I was vs. the average guy who enjoys music. I was talking with some guy in a bar and the subject of Bo Diddley came up. And this guy said, something to the effect of it being a great song by Bob Seger. Now, I didn't know that Bob Seger had an album of covers called Smokin' O.P.'s.
And apparently this guy just figured Bob Seger wrote everything he sang. When I told him that this song was written by a man who performed under the name Bo Diddley he was absolutely dumbfounded.
Which brings me to the real topic of this post. Without the knowledge of the history of music, we do tend to attribute our favorite artists with maybe a bit more originality than they actually have.
For example, my favorite performer is Howlin' Wolf. But he would have been the first to admit the great influence Charlie Patton had on him. (I did delve into listening to Charlie Patton, but the recording quality was so primitive it just didn't have the same impact as the Wolf for me). The blues is one form of music that is very obvious in it's handing down, borrowing, and using of past performers repertoires, and each new performer tries to put his personal stamp on what is basically endless variations of the same song.
Now in rock, I am always finding performers borrowing bits and pieces of past performers to varying degrees. I have a few examples of my own, and would lke to know others you may have caught.
"Bad Moon Rising" by CCR is practically a direct lift of Scotty Moore's guitar work on the Presley Sun Sessions, particularly the song "You're Right, I'm Left, She's Gone". Check out the similarities:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7n_m3q7XYz4http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BmEGm-mraE
Another example that really caught my ear was the opening riff from The Velvet Underground's "There She Goes Again". It is pretty much a duplication of the opening riff of Marin Gaye's http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZH82l_ie9Mhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwvHfwDfapI
Or as Wikipedia suggests, it may have been The Stones cover version that they duplicated.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmkU3yg4lK0&feature=related
A couple other examples come from Elvis Costello's Armed Forces
album. "Oliver's Army" borrows the "Dancing Queen" piano riff while "Two Little Hitlers" grabs the riff from David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JGYKCvWnQchttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFrGuyw1V8s&ob=av2ehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYIk_zOX-rUhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYIk_zOX-rU