IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED
Have you been following the controversy in the news regarding Eagles’ Don Henley’s hissy fit over Frank Ocean and Okkervil River having the nerve to tamper with his classics, “Hotel California” and “The End of the Innocence?” Basically, he doesn’t like that Ocean used the music of “Hotel” for his rap called “American Wedding” and that Will Sheff of Okkervil changed/added lyrics to his cover of “Innocence.”
For a little more color read this Rolling Stone article.
Yeah, I know, Henley’s on solid legal turf… but that doesn’t make him any less of a dick. He should have granted Ocean the rights to do his rap. And god forbid Neff should reinterpret his song with a different lyrical twist! Really! Sinatra was famous for changing the lyrics to some of the most carefully crafted lyrics in the great American songbook. Those lyricists may have been mortified privately, but I doubt any tried to stop him from releasing their songs.
But here’s the issue that really sticks in my craw. In June of 1972, Jethro Tull supported Eagles on a tour through the Northwest and Texas. This would have been well in advance of Henley writing “Hotel California” which was released at the end of 1976. One of the songs Tull played in their set was “We Used To Know” from the album Stand Up. That’s today’s SotW.
Sound familiar? Alright then.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that Henley intentionally plagiarized Tull. In fact, even Ian Anderson won’t go there. The point is that there are only so many chord progressions you can come up with before a song you’ve written starts to sound like something else. Henley shouldn’t be so high and mighty about other artists need “to come up with his own ideas and stop stealing stuff from already established works.”
It’s time for Henley to chill out and get back in touch with that famous southern California mellow vibe.
Enjoy… until next week.