Covers…But, uh, Not

For your listening pleasure…

The original:

And the hopefully accidental cover:

This one isn’t as obvious…until you catch it. Then you can’t get over it.

The original:

And the maybe not-so-accidental cover:

Okay, now this one……I really, really hope they bought the rights to it.

The original (incidentally, very interesting lyrics to this one…obviously from a religious background, although focusing much more on the death aspect of the story…for a statement or just to try to be cool, I’m not sure):

And, pretty much the original again:

And lastly, I have this theory that every song is a ripoff of U2. Even one’s that were written prior to U2; they just didn’t know it yet. Those are called retroactive covers. But this one, this one was uh, shall we say, ‘re-written’ a good few years after U2 actually wrote it.

The original:

The cover (go to about the 1:05 mark to hear it):

See, I think I’ve been going about writing songs the complete wrong way. Just find a good song, change a lyric or two, maybe a note, or the key (not completely necessary), and there ya go. Although, to be fair, a lot of times it’s just subconscious melodies that got in your head while you were listening to the radio and driving, and just spacing. Then you go home, write a song, and you’re like, ‘Whoa! Where’d that killer melody come from?’ And then we usually answer ourselves with the only possible explanation of where that melody came from: we must be a genius. And since I like that explanation better, I’m sticking with it. One time I came up with this rad song for a band I was playing with. I showed it to them, and they all applauded me for my rad new arrangement of the theme from Prince of Egypt. And yes, I was watching Prince of Egypt.


P.S. Dan, over at Maple Neck, has some great music ripoff posts. That I wish I had found. I mean, covered. 😉

P.S.S. For those interested, unfortunately times are still tough and my Brawley strat and Frenzel Champ have to go. So, let me know if you would be interested in applying to be their new homes. hehe 😉

43 thoughts on “Covers…But, uh, Not

  1. well, the metallica/supertones one is no surprise. it is known that the first track and all their albums starts with a metallica riff.


    hi. i’m not really one for reading blogs, but i stumbled across yours awhile back and i must say i just love everything about your posts. keep it up.

    delay and God bless you.

  2. James Hetfield’s (metallica singer) parents were christian scientists. I don’t know a lot about that group, except that they’re out there, and it turned off hetfield.
    I wonder how many ‘covers’ happen simply because we’re all working with the same 12 notes, and they tend to get grouped similarly?

    I sincerely hope for better times ahead for you Karl. I know it must be hard right now, though.
    thanks for the post.

  3. Hey Karl,

    Check out Zeppelin’s shameless rip of Jake Holmes “Dazed and Confused”. Stunning thievery.

    Hope things have improved for you, give us an update if you feel like it.

    • Thank you for the post. I heard this on the radio the other day, but hadn’t followed up to find out the details. Thanks!

      Is it bad if I like the Jake Holmes version better?

  4. Wow PFR….and I thought you guys were the most original band ever….I’m sure it was a happy “accident”. I once was working on a song for a band I was in back in college. The main progression kept sounding familiar…It would as it was Jimmy Eat World–The Middle.

  5. Well crap – that didn’t work at all. I guess you can’t embed videos in comments.

    Original (Radiohead – No Surprises)

    Cover (Starfield – Captivate)

    It’s not exact, but it’s pretty freaking close.

  6. I must say that I’m most shocked by the Impressions/John Mayer connection and yet sadly not surprised at all. I was finally starting to enjoy the John Mayer song since I really don’t like his singing style, but now I’m ashamed I didn’t catch the Impressions connection myself. Oh the SHAME!

  7. I occasionally play with the front man from PFR… I’ll have to ask him if he was listening to a little too much police in the day 🙂

  8. Don:

    I wonder how many ‘covers’ happen simply because we’re all working with the same 12 notes, and they tend to get grouped similarly?

    there’s just too many iterations on the 12 notes available. if you pick a 3-note motif, you can play it hundred ways and can still sound different

    however, I think some of these is just a matter of somebody not having access to other’s music. BUT, of course, some are just a straight rip-off 🙂

    • rhoy:


      I wonder how many ‘covers’ happen simply because we’re all working with the same 12 notes, and they tend to get grouped similarly?

      there’s just too many iterations on the 12 notes available. if you pick a 3-note motif, you can play it hundred ways and can still sound different
      however, I think some of these is just a matter of somebody not having access to other’s music. BUT, of course, some are just a straight rip-off

      However, a mitigating factor is the common progressions, etc of Western music. I’d even argue that a big part of what makes songs sound similar is the similar chord progressions more than the notes … and certain progressions sound “better” to us at the ends of cadences, etc. Add a similar feel (which beats are accented, drum groove, etc) and you get, in my opinion, that PFR/Police connection: a similar feel + common chord progression = cover? Just saying that it’s hard to accuse people of “covering” when both the original and the “cover” are just following commonly accepted patterns, right?

      right? 🙂

  9. I firmly believe Lincoln Brewster was listening to Continuum when he was working on Today Is The Day:

    This Love (first few seconds) > Waiting On The World…
    The Love Of God > Stop This Train
    The Arms Of My Savior > Gravity

    And then he covered his own guitar theme of For These Reasons when he wrote God You Reign…

    Maybe these aren’t as close as the ones you posted but it struck me as a little odd as I listen to the album Today Is The Day the first few times.

  10. Mayer admittedly ripping off U2 but it still sounds like a different song with a Jeff Beck solo.

    I still hear that one on Pandora that you pointed out a while back – Death Cab’s Transatlanticism which came before Hillsong’s the Stand.

    There are a lot of common chord progressions but the song ends up sounding different. You could sing Everything Glorious over the beginning of I’m Still Here by Vertical Horizon.

    • the Vertical Horizon/DCB connection… i thought i was random when I thought that. Good show! Knowing someone else thought that too is great. BTW, what do you think of the new VH album?

  11. It’s been said a few times that there are no original ideas out there; as a Psych major back in college, I was introduced to the idea that our brains are wired to take pleasure in the familiar. Sort of an evolutionary advantage, since it’s beneficial to not be too adventurous when times are tight. But it gets to be pretty obvious with music, since I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard a song on the radio that I hated (Ke$ha comes to mind….) the first time through, but as the radio stations play the crap out of it, it gets to be catchy and even enjoyable.

    I think that those rare songs that you hear the first time and fall in love with are either a) fundamentally incredible (it does happen), or b) based, if only subconsciously, on something that came before that you liked. As a musician, I’ve written a few songs that were subconsciously linked to the stuff I’d been listening to at the time, but rather than worry about it too much, I’ve just kind of come to accept that that’s what happens with music. But I love these kinds of posts, because usually, as the one making the music, it’s impossible to hear the similarities.

    • I think another way a song could be instantly appreciated is if it is written to feel familiar and enjoyable, but is still original and different. The Viva La Vida album comes to mind 🙂 Perhaps orchestration is the forgotten originality maker?

  12. I like Darrell Mansfield’s version of people get ready. For some reason I had never noticed the similarity to Waiting on the World.

  13. Great discussion. Personally, I’m of the mindset that a lot of times we either hear so many songs that it’s impossible to remember when we accidentally rip them off, or we accidentally rip ones off that we may have heard like, in a grocery store and weren’t even aware that we’d heard them. But then there are a few, such as the Mayer/Impressions one, where there are so many similarities…you just wonder. hehe And actually, I first noticed that one while listening to the Jeff Beck/Sting version. 🙂

    Oh, and Mike…tell PFR I meant no ill will. It just sounds…well, a lot alike. 😉 I used to dig those guys so much. The tape on Goldie’s Last Day even started to warble because I played it so much. lol

  14. Sometimes I hate John Mayer, for stuff like this and for his incredible guitar skills (if he was just a mediocre player I could just despise him)

    I’d love to see him apear on Southpark

  15. Eric–lol I guess I really am dating myself! Yep, I’m old. Would it help to say that PFR was 4th grade for me? hehehe And are Supertones still around?

    Ben–haha Ya, I usually hate his skills too…but in a really awesome way that makes me want to listen to him, but hate him for it. But ya, some of his haughtiness is really annoying.

  16. @Karl – Did you just use the word “haughtiness”?

    OK, thread hijack time…I just picked up a newsed (that used but new to me…) guitar (an LTD EC-256 gold top) and I’m thinking of maybe dropping some new pickups in it and I’m looking for suggestions. Anyone?

  17. Ooh. Uh, ya, guess I did. And I have no idea why! lol 🙂

    And I’m biased, but Wolfetone’s!! hehe But seriously, what type of sound are you going for? Warm and ringy classic Gibson? Or something heavier? Blusier?

  18. Also, I’d like to retain the ability to use the coil splitter functionality. I’m not sure if that makes a difference or not. I’ve only ever played/worked on strats so I’m new to the LP-style guitars. On that note, I’m really surprised at what a difference the smaller 24.75″ scale length is. I’ve played on the 25″ scale strats for 23 years and I guess my hands are really used to that scale length. It’s taking a little getting used to….but I like it.

      • Those look really interesting. I’m I’m not sure how I’d wire them though. I don’t know if I would want to add any switches and I only have 2 vol + 1 tone dial (the tone pulls up to split the coils on both PUs) but I like the idea of the versatility.

        • I just added one switch to go from rail-p-90-hb. I would assume that you could use a push pull pot instead of a switch. I wasn’t worried about the effect on the guitar. I would definitely recommend the swap. Serious versatility.

  19. go listen to the first track off of Hillsong’s latest album–it’s called Our God is Love (the song, not the album). Then start singing U2’s With or Without You. My wife just started singing it in the car the other day while the Hillsong album was on and it was scary how they are incredibly similar. The chord progression is perfect and the verse melodies are pretty close if not the same.

  20. KennyG–for bluesy stuff, I’d check out the WCR’s. Maybe the BetSet model. And of course, I can’t say enough good things about Wolfetone’s. I play the Dr. V model, and for a more bluesy sound, maybe the Caretaker model.

    Craig–ya, the Rails are great! 🙂

    CtheHammer–haha Great find! Always did think Nickelback just basically wrote one song years ago and recycled it constantly. hehe

    • Okay, changed my mind…just listened to the Nickelback clip again. It is now the best thing I have ever heard!! I’m cracking up, bro!!

  21. The chorus of Bon Jovi’s “We Weren’t Born to Follow” is almost exactly the same as their older track “Born to be my Baby.” I love to annoy my wife (who’s a fan) by singing over the top of the former with the latter when it’s on the radio. Every. Time. 😀

  22. lol I’m gonna go listen to that right now! There’s a couple Creed songs that are like that, too…and they were right after each other on the album. haha One was Children Don’t Stop Dancing and I can’t remember the name of the other one. hehe

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