by James R. Campbell
How many times have we heard it before? A rock band breaks up, and its members sue each other in court for one reason or another. One of them may feel that they didn’t get credit for songs they wrote, or that they were short-changed in some way. All too quickly, they turn to the courts to redress grievances.
Such was the case with two of the best bands from the sixties and seventies. Most, if not all of us have been pummeled by news stories about the legal wrangle between the surviving members of the groups, Spirit, and Led Zeppelin. The buzz was over the composition of the beginning of the popular song, “stairway to heaven.” The surviving members of Spirit claimed that the notes were stolen. They referred to a song from their 1968 album, Spirit. This album had a song called “torez”, which they claimed Led Zeppelin infringed upon when they wrote “Stairway to heaven.”
The claim was made that the notes were almost identical. The jury ruled otherwise. The jury heard both songs, and concluded, that the songs were in no way similar to each other.
The question I have is this:
Why did it take a big stink to sort it all out? Anybody could have figured it out; or so I thought. I have heard Led Zeppelin’s “stairway to heaven” many times. I have a CD with “torez” on it as well. In no way are the intros to the songs even similar. If you listen to both songs, you will see it for yourself.
As far as I am concerned, this incident was a tragedy. It was a frivolous proceeding that tied up public attention that would have been focused elsewhere. It is too bad that the members of both bands couldn’t remain friends; they toured together in the late sixties. I like Spirit’s music better than the later Zeppelin catalog. The sound went downhill after Iv. But that is what happens when drugs steal creativity; Jimmy Page was using heroin during the late seventies. He is one of the lucky ones, so many like hem were not. I could tell the difference from a good record and a bad one; most people didn’t care what the band put out. Most couldn’t tell the difference between a good show and a bad one.
The courts are all too often, available to the public for the wrong reasons. Anybody can go in to court and file a lawsuit. Money is the end game; the dollar rules, yet again.
The media has a big part to play in this as well; they dramatize these proceedings as if they were events at the Roman Colosseum. This publicity fuels the fire and stokes the public. “Give us more.” Seems to be the prevailing outcry. When does it ever end? We have far more important tasks to deal with, and beside, the election kaos that has been 2016 doesn’t help. Let us follow the closing lines for the Time Life collections advertised on CNBC. “enjoy the music.”?
About the Author
James R. Campbell, 61, is poet and writer living with total blindness. He has a Bachelor’s in psychology. He has written articles for the Matilda Ziegler Magazine and Consumervision. A a member of Behind our Eyes, Campbell has three poem collections on CD. They can be downloaded at Recordinglibrary.org. In his free time, he likes cooking, playing harmonica, reptiles, and keeping up with current events.