Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Serious Lawyer Shit III: Hey Jude, isn’t it a pity?

The Beatles released Paul McCartney’s composition ‘Hey Jude’ as a single at the end of August 1968, upon which it became, as the story goes, the biggest selling single in the history of the known universe, etc.

After the Beatles went their separate ways, George Harrison in May 1970 released his debut solo album, which included a song called ‘Isn’t It a Pity’ (faithfully performed in the video above by Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, et al, at the Concert for George, November 2002).

Upon detailed comparison, there are some marked similarities between the two songs:

  • Both have very similar structure, rhythm and meter.
  • Both fade out on an extended na-na-na-naah chorus.
  • Both songs, as originally recorded, were of almost exactly the same length, ~7’10”.

I don’t say that Harrison’s ‘Isn’t It a Pity’ significantly plagiarised McCartney’s ‘Hey Jude’.

But I do say that the similarities between these recordings could have been the basis for some serious lawyer shit to go down between the two former Beatles.

Then again, it’s said that Harrison’s song first appeared during rehearsals for the Beatles’ White Album, but in the end was not included in that opus.

And as it happens, ‘Hey Jude’ was recorded during the course of the White Album recording sessions.

I don’t say that McCartney’s ‘Hey Jude’ significantly plagiarised Harrison’s ‘Isn’t It a Pity’.

But I do say the whole thing represented a lost opportunity for a large-ish firm of lawyers to make their careers out of it. The proceedings conceivably might have continued to this day without resolution.

It’s perhaps a testament to the good sense and taste of both Messrs Harrison and McCartney that they didn’t embark upon such a ruinous course.

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