Dedicated to Chuck Berry for not being stepped on.
A few days ago I was finally able to watch Cadillac Records, nearly a year after I learned Mos Def was to be playing Chuck Berry. One particular scene irritated me; Berry is in the backseat of his Cadillac with three women when he unexpectedly stops and says, “That’s my song!”
The song he is referring to is “Surfin’ USA” by The Beach Boys. Little did the listeners know that the same song had been performed five years earlier with different lyrics: Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen”.
I cannot imagine the fury Chuck Berry felt when hearing the song he wrote on the radio credited to someone else. How can someone muster up enough audacity to claim another person’s song as his or her own?
Thank God for copyright laws!
Unfortunately, copyrights do expire, depending on the date of publication and other conditions. However, since the “Surfin’ USA” incident, many musicians have been caught by the law. Everyone remembers Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice, Baby”. Vanilla Ice sampled the music from David Bowie and Freddie Mercury without asking.
Thankfully, there are artists like Madonna, who used “Gimme Gimme Gimme,” an ABBA song, with permission from the songwriter. Thank you Madonna!
Copyright Laws: Copyrights Do Expire
Madonna: “Gimme Gimme Gimme”
Vanilla Ice: “Under Pressure”