Do you ever get musical déjà vu? I get it all the time. As a musician, I hear things differently, I guess. It doesn’t matter if it’s at a different tempo or a different key; chord progressions, modes or scales, my ear picks out the strangest connections. If you stick with this and listen to the songs, you’ll realize I’m still batshit crazy, but these sonic similarities are real.
Well, let’s start with the pair that inspired this article, Rush’s “New World Man.” While it doesn’t connect directly to any songs by The Police, the guitar sound and Alex’s playing sounds like Andy Summers could have been playing it. The Reggae vibe and some of Neil’s drumming feels like Stewart Copeland as well.
Certain songs are ingrained in your mind due to sheer repetition. Whether you liked them or not, you were probably exposed to hundreds of songs, thousands of times. I am no fan of “Hotel California” by The Eagles, but the radio has played it so very many times, I think I may just know how to play it by osmosis. That said, one of my all time favorite artists uses the solo, but at a much higher tempo and I’m pretty sure in a mocking way. Try listening to Frank Zappa’s “Trying to Grow a Chin,” the solo section at 1:20 makes me think of “Hotel California,” even though it’s played at least twice the speed. It borrows half the chord changes and twice the sleazy note bending, but totally screams “Hotel California.” I felt the familiarity the first time I ever heard it, and while it took a few weeks to figure out, the “aha moment” finally came when “Hotel California” came on the radio, and it blew my mind (I actually did a spit take with my coffee).
Another one I noticed, almost immediately, was the keyboard melody from Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger.” Limblifter uses a smattering of notes played at a slower tempo, but it’s undeniably a nod to Supertramp.
I’m sure you have examples of your own. I know I’m not the only one who hears these things. Hell, Tom Petty got ripped off by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and we all know about the Led Zeppelin scandal. We also know the Rap community has been sampling hit songs, because people like what they already know.
Random is my deal, so I’ll add this on as a bonus; I like to noodle around on a guitar while I watch TV, and usually play bits and parts for fun and I end up making unintentional medleys. The best one ever was the magical mixture of the verse of “Polly” by Nirvana and the chorus of “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World” by Neil Young. They just fit together so well. Stay tuned for next time, as I’ll probably piss off a whole bunch of people, as I tell everyone about covers I think surpassed the originals.
Dig this series? Check out the full archives of Rapid Musical Perspectives with P.S. Idiot, by Andrew Earle, here: https://vinylwritermusic.com/rapid-musical-perspectives-archives/