The lyrics to the duo’s new track “Unhappy Motherfuckin’ Parade” have been allegedly lifted from “Hobo Ben,” an previous toast — or type of Black folks poetry — delivered by the late Slim Wilson, a gambler, pimp, robber and assassin, Rolling Stone stories. Whereas he was doing time in Missouri State Penitentiary for armed theft in 1964, Wilson met folklorist Bruce Jackson, who featured the convict’s work in his 1974 e book about toasts titled Get Your Ass within the Water and Swim Like Me and a 1976 album of the identical title.
“Hobo Ben” consists of coarse traces like “Girls of tradition and sweetness so refined, is there one amongst you that might grant me wine? / I am raggedy I do know, however I’ve no stink / and God bless the girl that’ll purchase me a drink” and “Heavy-hipted Hattie turned to Nadine with amusing / and mentioned, ‘What that funky motherfucker really want, little one, is a shower.'”
A number of of those traces seem verbatim in “Unhappy Motherfuckin’ Parade,” reminiscent of “I am raggedy, I do know, however I’ve no stink / God bless a girl that’ll purchase me a drink” and “What that funky motherfucker actually wants, little one, is a shower.” The track, nevertheless, is credited solely to Depp and Beck, with no point out of Wilson, Jackson or Get Your Ass within the Water and Swim Like Me.
“The one two traces I might discover in the entire piece that [Depp and Beck] contributed are ‘Large time motherfucker’ and ‘Bust it all the way down to my degree,'” Jackson informed Rolling Stone. “Every little thing else is from Slim’s efficiency in my e book. I’ve by no means encountered something like this. I have been publishing stuff for 50 years, and that is the primary time anyone has simply ripped one thing off and put his personal title on it.”
Hearken to Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp’s ‘Unhappy Motherfuckin’ Parade’
Jackson’s son, Michael Lee Jackson, a lawyer who works with music and mental property, informed the journal that “it is simply not believable, in my view, that Johnny Depp or anyone else might have sat down and crafted these lyrics with out nearly wholly taking them from some model of my father’s recording and/or e book the place they appeared.” He mentioned he and his father are exploring authorized choices however haven’t filed a lawsuit or despatched a letter signifying one.
Regardless that the lyrics to “Unhappy Motherfuckin’ Parade” look like instantly lifted from “Hobo Ben,” a lawsuit can be removed from a slam dunk as a result of unclear origins and authorship of the toast. They’re usually handed down orally by way of generations, and Wilson mentioned he discovered “Hobo Ben” from his father. “The traces in it are much like different kinds of traces — not the specificity of the phrases, however the sorts of issues that flip up [in other toasts],” Jackson informed Rolling Stone. “It is merely a part of that style, like a bluesman doing a sure type of riff.”
Kevin J. Greene, a lawyer and legislation professor who has labored extensively on Black music and copyright legislation, informed the journal that the “fixation doctrine” requires works to be written down or recorded to be copyrighted. This requirement has led to the exploitation and theft of many Black artists’ work through the years.
If something, Jackson might be able to lay declare to “Hobo Ben,” since he owns a copyright to the transcriptions of the toasts recorded for Get Your Ass within the Water and Swim Like Me.
“He can do this as a courtesy and say, ‘I do know this got here from this custom, so I am simply claiming copyright in my explicit work,'” Greene defined. “However he mainly has rights towards all comers as to that registration that he would get on that work.” Jackson is much less involved about his work getting swiped than he’s about Wilson getting correctly credited.
“I do not know if this document is promoting,” he informed Rolling Stone. (It isn’t: 18 debuted at No. 183 on the Billboard 200.) “I’ve seen some critiques that I might be very embarrassed to have gotten had they been my album. However whether it is promoting, Johnny Depp is making some huge cash on it. Ought to it go to him, or ought to it go to someplace that helps the individuals who produced this tradition?”
Prime 40 Blues Rock Albums
Impressed by giants like Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and B.B. King, rock artists have put their very own spin on the blues.