Anyone familiar with Jewish Music knows that Jewish music occasionally “borrows” from its secular culture. There are parody groups such as Shlock Rock and Rechnitzer Rejects,1 who perform with an obviously humorous, satirical, or educational purpose. Some bands blatantly use secular music ironically:
|Men at Work – Down Under||Piamenta – Asher Boro|
Then are the examples of outright plagiarism, the most notable one pointed out way back by Rabbi Avraham Bronstein2
|Dschinghis Khan – Dschinghis Khan||Mordechai Ben David – Yidden|
Even the Hatikva, the Israeli National Anthem, appears to find its origins elsewhere:
|La Mantovana (Italy 17th century)||Hatikva|
And I’m sure my astute and cultured readers can drudge up other examples. But this begs the question if Jews borrow liberally from secular music, does the converse also hold true with non-Jews using “Jewish” music as well?3 Let’s take a look:
Warning: Some comparisons not for the faint of heart, reader discretion is advised. YUTOPIA is not responsible for “ruining” any song for you, creating indelible mental references, or other visceral reactions.
|Kaveret / Poogy – Yo Ya||Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way|
|Israeli/Folk – Shema Yisrael||Bloodhound Gang – The Bad Touch|
|Shlomo Carlebach – Ki Va Moed||Cindy Lauper – Christmas Conga|
I’ll take this as a “yes” – and I even have a feeling I’m forgetting some. Got suggestions? Let me know in the comments and I’ll move the better ones up.
1. A band which like most bands I liked as a child, does not seem to hold up nearly as well.
2. And recently submitted by myself to the Who Sampled database.
3. No comments on how music is a universal language, cultures borrowing from each other, or that since there are only a finite number of scales in the western music system there are bound to be similarities. Just sip some tea and enjoy the comparisons, ok?
While perhaps unethical from a modern legal perspective, sampling has probably been around as long as music… And in some ways it is understandable to want to borrow motifs, but I am personally sketched out by the note-for-note copies with no acknowledgements, let alone proper licensing.
I’m more annoyed by the Jewish bands who sample – likely not paying royalties – and then include the line about how stealing is assur.
Well, the two tunes you’ve got up top are obviously note-for-note reproductions. Not sure how Piamenta is ironic, though by choosing a #1 hit it’s obvious everyone would know what he was doing. MBD stole something more obscure. My personal favorite rip-off is Tzlil V’Zemer’s “Let Us Grow,” a note-for-note cover of the Pet Shop Boys “It’s A Sin.”
But your examples for copying in the other direction don’t work for me. I’ve never heard such a rocking 70’s version of Yo Ya – it’s pretty awesome, actually – but I don’t hear the Kravitz connection at all. You can almost make out a similar tune for Sh’ma in the Bloodhound Gang rap, but the arrangement is so different and the melody so minor to the song that I’m really not sure I hear it, either. As for the Christmas Conga, I love the doo-wop version of Ki Va Moed you’ve linked to, and agree that the chorus shares the same four notes, repeated, but other than that it’s completely a COMPLETELY different melody before and after. I call that coincidence, not plagiarism.
1. When Piamenta came out w/Asher Boro, *everyone* knew what they were doing.
2. I had never heard the Let Us Grow song – PHENOMENAL reference!
3. The plagiarism call was tongue in cheek, I highly doubt real musicians listen to most Jewish music.
4. That Yo Ya is from the original, and probably the best version to date.
The story of Hatikvah’s origins may be more complicated. See this recent book review: http://www.jpost.com/ArtsAndCulture/Books/Article.aspx?id=173234
I had your first example in mind when I first learned about this: http://blogs.findlaw.com/celebrity_justice/2010/02/big-ruling-down-under-men-at-work-must-pay-for-song.html
Very interesting, thanks!
Very cool from a law standpoint, but I just don’t hear the similarities.
Don’t forget MBD’s ripp off of his yiddish version of “close every door to me”.
Hatikva is also simlar to this tune
(for the full piece see the wikipedia article the tune named vltava is one of my favorite classical pieces- the similarities starts at about 1:10)
mbd’s “hine lo yanum” from the hineni album is “oh mamy”
since his shema yisroel on that same album is also not original (see above in the post) makes me wonder about the other songs on that album…
once while riding a bus I heard the mbd song “I’m so proud” with very diferent words but I havn’t been able to remember what they were or identify the original song anywhere.