1928 - Alderson High School - 1968

 

I've Heard That Before, But Where?

Barry Worrell - June 12, 2011


As long as I can remember, music was top priority for me. I listened, not just heard, but listened to it in the movies and on the radio and recordings.  One of the first radio hits that comes to me was, "His Feet Too Big For de Bed" by the Andrews Sisters.

Jim Jones and I used to sing pop songs just for fun when we were very little. Jim could always remember the words and I never forgot how the tune went. You might say Jim and I sang in our first group.

In Alderson it was mostly Pop or Country music. If you wanted to hear Classical, the movies featured it occasionally, and of course recordings, but I don't recall hearing it on the radio, and no one in Alderson introduced it to me.

In 1953, Tony Bennett released "Stranger in Paradise", an early big hit for him. I loved that song but it wasn't the words that captivated me, it was the music, and it really stuck with me. It was over a decade later that I found out the composer lifted it from a late 19th century classical piece by the Russian composer, Alexander Borodin, and the original title is "Polovtsian Dances. It was very familiar because I had heard it before, but not the original.

I always thought film composers were very talented, not that they weren't, but I began to realize they lifted a lot of music from Classical composers. I recall hearing the Polovtsian Dances in a very low budget science fiction film - best part of the film. You would have thought the Moon Maids dancing to it would have some kind of moon music. I also began to pay close attention to the credits to see who the composer was, if I liked his music.

I have a recording of Gustav Holtz's very popular suite, The Planets". In the insert notes is a forward written by Ethan Canin who's father was a classical violinist and concertmaster for the San Francisco Symphony. Later on he switched to studio musician, doing films and television shows, but mostly films. Ethan was proud of his father for he would hear him play on the sound track of the movies and it would send thrills through the people in the theater. "Oh, that? his father said, "You should listen to "The Planets" "All great movie music comes from there".  Well, that's partly true, however, I can attest to also hearing the style and music of Brahms and Prokofiev plagiarized for films.

I would say with great certainty there are many of you reading this have heard "Espana Rhapsody" by Emmanuel Chabrier. You don't think so, you say? What if I said it was "Hot Diggity Dog Ziggity" , a 1950s song by Perry Como?  Yes, it was taken from Chabrier's 1883 composition.

Of course there wasn't always copyright laws to keep folks from pilfering complete sections of the work of other composers. I think about four continuous measures is all that you're allowed to do now.

I'll leave you with one more: In 1958, The Diamonds recorded a Do-Wop song, complete with hup-do-waddy-waddys, called "Passion Flower". Guess where the composer got that? Beethoven, but he called it, "Fur Elise".

Yes, you have heard it before. Now you know where.

Check out this site link Alex McLaughlin sent and see tons of song that were lifted by pop composers.
http://www.allegro.philharmonic.me.uk/
 

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