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Do You Dare Play The Eric Influence Game?


Brian Mac

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James pointed out that "Haven't We Come A Long Way" somewhat resembles James Taylor's "Your Smiling Face." I thought it might be fun to uncover some of Eric's other "influences." Here's mine. There's a Beach Boy song called "She knows me too well" which sounds very much like the chorus to "I can Remember." "I can hear Music" makes me think of "Sunrise," and of course there's the "Close you eyes and be still" line from both "Don't talk put your head on my shoulders by the BB's and Eric's "I Wanna Be With You." The chorus to "Foolin Myself" is a dead ringer for "The Long and Winding Road." On the other hand, there's a Barry Manilow song called "Please Don't Be Sad" that borrows heavily from "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again." Can you guys think of any others?

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I'm already aware of how much he (GULP!)borrowed.

Kind of takes something away.

Well, maybe you are not aware of the crafting of "borrowed" things.

I was fortunate enough to be friendly with such a person, and I understand EXACTLY many of the steps and thought processes Eric must go trhough, when he wants to write a song based on previous things. My friend is Les Fradkin. He was the star of Beatlemania during its time in the 80's, and, in my opinion, also happens to be a musical genius, like Eric. He was consulted by many of the worlds foremost and famous musicians, solely for that talent. He was like a surgeon, taking previously done compositions, and adding new wists to it, deconstructing, reconstructing, and rearranging. It was an amazing sight to see. I was also fortunate enought to meet Michael Brown (Left Banke) through Les, and when I saw the 2 of them take songs, deconstruct them, and reconstruct something else beautiful, it took my breath away. There are a couple of types of creative geniuses. The Eric, Les, and Michael type, are the people that can deconstruct and strip certain compositions to certain raw elements, and build something else, even better out of it. Look, frankly, there are only limited amount of chord and note progressions. It is like the finest surgeon, when they can grab from many others, and produce one, beautiful result. Eric does this with extreme precision, and the outputs, as we all know, choke us up. From what I have thought before, and what I have maybe learned a little form this board, is, Eric is a very technical songwriter. I don't think he wakes up every day, and a new song is born. I think he constructs his songs like the finest watchmaker, with extreme precision. Maybe this is better. I think a lot of the "impromptu" composers lose their creativity at some point, and there output just plain sucks. A songwriter like Eric has the tools to not only never stop evolving, but also knows how to write a hit based on previous, and up to the moment trends. Adn, for a while, I think Eric was not exactly sure that this formula was the way to go (If in fact, "Overnight Sensation" was his real feelings), but, time proved his method right, and he seems very content with it. Who wouldn't be?

Success in this world, in general, usually is from taking on what already is successful, and building on it. Why not music also? Eric is one of the masters of it. I have seen it done, and the precision and technology behind it, is something I think you need to experience, Zuke, before you conclude the borrowing is copying insinuation.

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Very well said, Jeff! Incorporating someone's work into one's own is the most sincere form of flattery, and flattery it really is! About 7 years ago, on 4th of July weekend, I decided I would introduce my husband to Raspberries and Eric music, and sat him down on Friday afternoon when I came home from school for the long weekend. I dragged out and played EVERY single Raspberries record and every single EC solo record for him. We listened intently to EVERY cut, then we discussed them. He compared the talent on them to that of Beatles, and I must tell you, to Herman, Beatles are SACRED! I was really shocked. He said, "They are SO very talented! I had no idea!"

Well, this continued till the wee hours of the AM Saturday. I got up Saturday morning, and suddenly ran to the grand piano, sat down, and my fingers started moving, for no apparent reason. (I can't read piano music well enough to perform it or play very well, and I play by ear for my kids in every key, but my key of choice to read Book 1 piano songs is C major!--no black keys!)

I yelled at Herman to bring me all the staff paper I had. Didn't have much. I was scribbling note stick figure rhythms and note letter names on plain paper as fast as my fingers could write it. At the end of Sunday evening, I had three songs, in keys like B flat, D flat! G! Very strange. All complete with lyrics. Herman (who isn't a musician) said, "These are sort of in their style..." By Monday, there were 5 of them. I later went on to write an entire POLKA album for my ex-leader, which I'm still perfecting...

I have no idea why or how these songs "visited" me, but they just did. I haven't done it before nor since. I guess I just found some inspiration...

I've played some of them for Bernie, (I use the term loosely, because I CAN'T really play them at all on the piano, especially in those keys!), but certain chords, progressions, modulations, other elements, distinctly remind me of Eric's music. I got so worried that I had copied something, that after I wrote them, I went back and listened to EVERY cut on every album, just to make sure that I hadn't. But, the influence is so unmistakeably there...There probably is some stuff I never caught... (oops! VERY sincere flattery, Eric!)

smile --Darlene

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Don't get me wrong. I don't want to sound argumentative. I DO appreciate that ability to "stylize" a song based on someting else. (I loved THE RUTLES.) That's a great talent. I think the STARTING OVER album sounded like everyonE BUT the Raspberries. Maybe that was it's appeal.

I just think that when I do hear ANYBODY'S song and there's TOO MUCH "borrowed" it takes some of the WOW away from a good song. Personally I'm just a little disappointed.

Now crafting a song is one talent and "impromptu" writing is another. I think the most ORIGINAL stuff comes from "impromptu" writing. Inspiration not cluttered with rules.

Now GWEN STEFANI has a new song, "BUBBLE POP ELECTRIC." It's a jamming half rappin' song but the catchyest part is a melody taken from SOME OTHER song,( I can't think of what but the name GINO VANELLI comes to mind.)

I still love all the music, Eric and the guys.

Peace.

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There are a couple of songs with borrowed stuff. It's embellished, changed, etc. at that. EVERYTHING ELSE is totally original! There are only 12 tones and so many chords. Period. Something is always going to sound like something else. Unless one begins writing in quarter tones. Then it STILL may.

smile --Darlene

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There is something else you may want to consider, for an artist to be commercially successful the music they perform has to be accepted. When I listen to Eric's stuff I hear a lot of heavy "influenced" music, but more in the early part of his career. As he became accepted he began to branch out. Even the Beatles became popular doing outright covers of other material, and slowly leading us all to their own style of music.

JIM

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Brian Wilson is arguably the greatest individual pop composer. His voice, in the early days, was one of the few that I would rate above EC's. I guess that everyone was influenced by Pet Sounds.. from McC, Elton, Billy Joel, to every musician thereafter. Ah, if only Dennis and Carl were still around.

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Darlene, you say only 12 tones...well..there are also many octaves for those 12 tones...if you multipy all the variables there are millions and millions of possible combinations. Also, as far as chords are concerned, there need only be chords for accompaniment or harmony. A simple melody line can have a variety of possible chords if one chooses to add them. so I don't buy the theory that composers have a small play field.

I believe people write with a style that is easiest for them, thus narrowing the field of choices one can make. I am constantly amazed at how new melodies are being created every day...

I have said this before , EC is an amazing re-gurgitator and imitator of styles and arrangements. He also has had quite a few great moments of arrangements that can be truly called his own. His true talent is composing pieces that are ear-friendly and already tried tested and true. He knows what works and what doesn't. Then he exploits it to the max. He is also one of the very best middle 8 writers ever. Something Brian Wilson never bothered with. McCartney was awesome too. Eric also has a gift for creating key changes and moods that don't disrupt the song message, but rather enhances it.

He has ripped himself off more times than any other writer I have ever heard, and he has also ripped off other composers blatantly. But, hey...that's his thing...give him a great tune, intro, production, hook, etc...and he will exploit it somehow.

My two cents.

bahoo

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Hey Gord,

You wrote; "The Raspberries are not an act, they are an all the way rock n roll group and still alive and kicking and doing great. "

I think that's my point.

They are not an act, so leaning so much on,(as bahoodore puts it) blatantly ripping off others as well as yourself, diminishes the awe of a new good song which is good but not so new.

Still the talent to pull off someone else's production is still impressive. Did you ever listen to Todd Rundgren's version of Good Vibratons?

'Nuff Said.

Zuke

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Bahoo, There may be many octaves, but NOT in the possible-to-sing vocal ranges. GET REAL! There are NOT "millions and millions" of combinations.

"Yeah," one scale tone can be the third of a chord (say, G can be the third in an E flat major chord) and the root in another (G major, minor or diminished or augmented chord) or the fifth in a C chord (major or minor), but it's not like there are gazillions of combinations out there. If your premise were correct, NOTHING (or at least, not MUCH) would sound vaguely like anything else! Your implication that harmony is optional to a song is absurd, because it's an essential musical element. One can place ANY chord from any key (as opposed to a logical one) to each consecutive melodic note, but unless one chooses a VIABLE, LOGICAL one, the melodic is totally ruined and doesn't make any sense at all.

So much for being able to put "many different possible chords" to a set of consecutive melodic notes! There ARE such limitations as to what is musical and what is ridiculous, and those ARE limitations. Even with a limited knowledge of music theory, one realizes that choices are not as unlimited as one may think.

As for the accusatory tone about Eric "ripping himself off," I guess you know nothing about such masters as Bach, Corelli, Wagner, etc. If using one's own theme or variations of it is "ripping oneself off," the entire compendium of musical literature is full of such "ripoffs"! That's composer's prerogative, and more have used it throughout Western musical history than have not.

As for "Give him an intro, a hook...etc.," that is about the most ridiculous and mean-spirited falsehood I've ever read. I can't imagine anyone who has even a slight musical knowledge saying anything of that nature. It leads me to question how anyone who would say such a thing could consider himself a fan. Sorry, but I'm disappointed.

--Darlene

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P.S. There really IS a Miss Christine's School of Bondage, or at least there was, about 5 years ago. I was in school, looking for schools of violin playing on the computer, when up comes this fearsome image of a a blonde woman, about 65 years old, clad in black leather, carrying a whip, over the caption: "Miss Christine's School of Bondage." eek I was mortified, and quickly got it off the computer. Horrors!

smile --D

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Zuke, I hope I made sense of what I typed in.

I do agree with you.

I'm with you all way.

Todds version of "Good Vibrations" is it really good, like I would love to hear it, if you have , ok

Zuke, cheers buddy!

hey, did you watch the Beach Boys, (Brian Wilson Story on Muchmore Music ?

It was great, but, old concert footage and great songs.

Brian wilson was mentioning that Mike Love at the time was the groups sex symbol, he got all the attention on stage shows.

But, Brian has the voice, is what I thought.

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darlene....don't get your knickers in a knot...your incredible credible masterful perfect knowledge of music is too profound for me to even attempt to contradict. Us mere humans with little education are apparently unable to match your high standards of educationa and academia. Forgive my less-than mathematically correct assumptions. Perhaps I was wrong using millions, when indeed I should have used "more combinations than one" to be safe in your realm.

I see that you have not considered the possibility that EC is also human, because you defend him like a lion defends a 12 ounce rib steak.

As for you comment that it is ridiculous that a melody cannot exist without harmony...you have to get out of your little box...Tehoretically it CAN exist. I never sad all combinations will sound pleasant to an ear, I only said that it is possible. AND the true composers find the combinations that fresh and wonderfilled.

I think I owe you a ton of gratitude for treating me like Marvin. It makes me feel special.

As for the flogging...I could take it...as long as you don't make me listen to Winter Dreams...THAT would kill me...

bahoo

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Bahoo, I didn't mean to come on that strong. My knowledge of music is miniscule compared to that of many people here. I would never want to leave an impression to the contrary. You are correct--theoretically, any melody stands on its own. But the logical combinations ARE limited.

EC is indeed human, judging from the spectrum of emotions his music expresses. A 12 oz rib steak!

HA! Most excellent analogy! That's worth a Haaach!

At least! It really put a grin on my face!

To my knowledge, I've never treated Marvin badly. I promise it isn't *I* who upset him. I don't know who did. I hope he comes back. I didn't mean to treat you badly either. A 12 oz rib steak! I *do* love steak, but have never thought of myself as a lioness. I don't even own a leopard coat!

Peace.

smile --Darlene

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The "Eric Influence Game?" -- looks like Eric wants to play…

- - - -

Eric writes great middle eight's, something Brian Wilson never bothered with.

Huh? Have you ever listened to "Wouldn't It Be Nice"?

You should go back and listen to "I'm Down" by the Beatles and then take a listen to Paul doing "Long Tall Sally" and discuss writers "reconstructing" and "plagiarizing" another songwriter's song.

Or John Lennon's opening line of "Come Together"… "Here come old flat top…" taken directly from a song by Chuck Berry.

Also, one of the four most famous compositions by Rachmaninoff is his "Rhapsody On A Theme By Paganini" (Paganini being another composer).

EC

PS: My heartfelt thanks to Darlene. She is truly a gem and she knows whereof she speaks.

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