Music on Mondays (4-20-13)—You can’t catch me but we can all come together in Folsom Prison

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Many decades ago when personal computers were just hitting the market, I got a gig with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Houston’s largest law firm at the time, merging the computer culture with their corporate culture and teaching their secretaries, paralegals, assistants, and attorneys how to use computers and the prevalent software at the time, which was Lotus-1-2-3, PC Write, WordStar, and WordPerfect.

Ever since those days I have had an inordinate interest in the law, often making it an avocation wherever I have been.

Perhaps the aspect of law that I most enjoy is copyright law, so it’s only natural that when my love of music butts heads with the law, I find it interesting. I mean, after all there are only so many notes, chords, and riffs that can be strung together to make music and songs. Over time, then, there’s bound to be a little borrowing here and there, even if only subconsciously.

Here are two music lawsuits involving the very rich and famous, and that the richer and more famous person lost:

The great Johnny Cash was sued by Gordon Jenkins who claimed that Cash used lyrics and melody from Jenkins’ 1953 composition “Crescent City Blues” in his 1955 hit “Folsom Prison Blues.” Even the opening lines are similar. Cash paid up, to the tune of $75,000.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There’s no question that in the realm of music, Chuck Berry was rich and famous. However, he sued someone even richer and more famous, John Lennon, and won.

Berry’s publishing company sued Lennon, claiming that lines and melodies for “Come Together” were taken from Berry’s 1956 song, “You Can’t Catch Me.” As part of the settlement, Lennon agreed to record three songs owned by publisher Morris Levy, including a cover of “You Can’t Catch Me” for Lennon’s 1975 covers album Rock ‘N’ Roll.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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9 thoughts on “Music on Mondays (4-20-13)—You can’t catch me but we can all come together in Folsom Prison

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      So far, all of the lawsuit songs I’ve listened to sound like a stretch. I think George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” lawsuits are among the worst.


  1. quincy harley jr

    Reblogged this on Q's place and commented:
    Pharell may feel he got a bum deal in with the when a court sided with the Marvin Gaye’s heirs regarding the likeness of his “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s “Got to give it up.” This Russell Ray post shows some early cases when Goliath lost to David (or, based on your perspective; David lost to lil’ David).

    And his intro took me down memory lane: (ahh Long lost Lotus, where are you now).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      It is amazing. The most recent one that I think is amazing is Sam Smith’s plagiarizing of Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne with his song “Stay With Me.” He quickly acknowledged it and included Petty & Lynne in the songwriting credits.

      Liked by 1 person


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