Posted by The Storm on September 26, 1999 at 16:58:22:
In Reply to: Re: Re: incorrect songwritter listed posted by nankerphelge on September 24, 1999 at 08:18:02:
What difference would the following make: On the re-issued Virgin "Exile" CD, it's listed as "traditional arrangement by Jagger, Richard, Wyman, Taylor, Watts," the same way I assume it's listed on the original 1972 release since they use "Richard," not "Richards." But here's the point: If it's a "traditional arrangement," can it really be the intellectual property of any individual, as opposed to "the community"? In other words, should even Robert Johnson hold a copyright to it if it's a "traditional arrangement?" He may have been the first person to record it, but those old blues songs emerged from centuries of plantation slave society, and it's possible that Johnson himself absorbed it from his environment, heard it from his uncles, or something like that. It may first have been written in 1832, for all we know, by someone simply reflecting the Delta folk tradition. And if that's the case, then the Stones' taking claim for re-arranging it in the way they did would be no more or less ethical than Robert Johnson claiming to have authored it.
Not only that, but the two Stones most renowned for their selfishness and lack of an ethical compass are Jagger and Richards. If they meant to steal the glory for writing this song, why credit it to the whole band, especially even Mick Taylor? Why not just claim it for themselves? You might argue that they should have given credit to Robert Johnson anyway, so that perhaps marginal fans would be motivated to give his music a chance (now that it's all been re-issued). But there wouldn't necessarily be a legal or moral obligation to do this if Johnson--no matter how god-like a figure I agree he is--was just as wily and selfish as the Stones in claiming authorship of song that had quite possibly been "in the atmosphere" of the Mississippi Delta for decades or more.
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