We’ve talked about this before. But let us NEVER forget!!!
In the very early 70s, a lovely, ramshackle folk trio called Tony, Caro and John released a very rare album with this song on it. It’s one of my faves:
Decades later, the then up-and-coming band Beach House took that song’s ENTIRE lyrical and melodic structure, changed only the title and three words (IMHO they removed the best words, “by goblin mail”), fit it somewhat awkwardly to a waltz time signature, then put it out on an album without giving ANY credit to the original artists (and, by virtue of changing the title, it’s a good guess they thought to obfuscate the point entirely and take sole credit). Here’s what they did with it:
I’m not the only ones to notice this: Tony, Caro, and John noticed it, but only about four years after Beach House released the song on their first album. And their excuse for why they did it smacks of the disingenuous, to put it mildly:
The band adapted “Snowdon Song” by ’60s folk group Tony, Caro, and John, changing the key, the time signature, and the lyrics and renaming it “Lovelier Girl.” The only problem was that Tony, Caro, and John were given zero attribution. Four years later, when Beach House blew up, the folk group contacted them.
“So we settled everything with them and they’re fine and we’re fine. We made sure all the necessary royalties go to them and all that stuff, and they’re in the index as the co-writers,” [guitarist Alex] Scally says. “We had no idea on our first record that’s how that thing worked. You don’t know anything when you’re just kids in a basement making a record.”
Oh yeah! Nobody knows that it’s wrong to steal a song, including covering it up by changing it just enough that it’ll be harder to spot. The only reason Tony, Caro, and John are “fine” is that they had to call you out on your theft. They might have gone to their graves without any royalties from you at all.
Ironically, Beach House is the same band that later got their balls in a tangle when Volkswagen wanted to use a Beach House song in a commercial, and then hired a band called Sniffy Dog to record a soundalike song so they didn’t have to get permission or pay royalties.
Here’s what Scully had to say about this totally-not-the-same scenario:
They aren’t artists, those people; they’re thieves. They’re people that don’t know how to do music so they just steal stuff from people. I have no respect for Volkswagen or Sniffy Dog. I think they’re low people in our society, but there’s an endless supply of people doing low things all around us, so I shouldn’t be harsh to judge. But that’s what they are: They’re just thieves.
I agree with Scally, that this band Sniffy Dog are thieves. While I am totally okay with sampling music in order to construct a new song, it is wrong to simply redo music and not attribute the original creators.
But at least if Sniffy Dog are thieves, they’re not also hypocrites.