Ireland vs. Monkey Man

Anyone who knows me will know that ma songs are ma babiesss. I am most happy when I’m just on stage singing my songs with my band, no matter how big the crowd. We’ve performed to big, drunk, dancing, fabulous audiences and we have also performed in some very small bars with some very small crowds. But what I love is seeing that guy or girl who is chatting away in conversation and NOT wanting to listen to my songs (deliberately or otherwise because I’m a nobody right now) to subliminally start tapping their foot or hand to a song I wrote. That’s when I think to myself, “Ha…got ya!”

Coming off stage after a 2 hour set, the band and I look forward to beers. I get to chill and chat to the audience and to have complete strangers come over and tell me how much they enjoyed the set, and ask where they can listen to my music makes it all extremely worth the sweat patches. Even if you know at the end of the night you’ve only performed to 6 people (2 of which are your parents) and you’re going to walk away with about as much wonga to just about cover the taxi fare home. We do it for the love darlingggs.

Now, there’s always that one person. The one who thinks that they’ve unearthed a ‘shut the front door’ discovery.

Yes, there often appears to be that one person who doesn’t simply accept that you’ve just belted out 15 original tunes…With the Joey Tribbiani realisation face, that one person says, “But isn’t your song Ireland just a rip off of Monkey Man?”.

Now my mouth usually gives a reasonable argument, my mind says, “FFS bore off”.

It’s only happened a couple of times since I wrote and recorded ‘Ireland’. But to the music fanatics and critics of original music that wanna piss on a songwriter’s parade, then this blog is for you.

My theory is that rather than waste 15 minutes of my life arguing, should the subject arise again then I can simply refer them to this blog that hopefully explains some fundamental things when writing a song, and prove that I would never rip anything off.

In case some of you haven’t got clue what I’m banging on about, Monkey Man (not to be confused with Monkey Man written by The Rolling Stones) is a 1969 song by the ska and reggae group The Maytals. The song is a jab at their producer, Leslie Kong. There are a load of covers of the song out there, most famously by The Specials and more recently Amy Winehouse. Take a listen to The Specials cover of the song here from 1979.

The part of the song that sounds similar to mine is the chord progression to the lyrics: Ay-ay-ay, ay-ay-ay / Them a-tell me, you huggin’ up a big monkey man / Ay-ay-ay, ay-ay-ay / Them a-tell me, you huggin’ up a big monkey man… Compare this to the hook chorus in my song which has lyrics: My baby, he left me / Left me for a ticket to Ireland / My baby, he left me / Left me for a ticket to Ireland.

Now listen to my song, “Ireland”

Of course there are similarities. Just like there are similarities between every song that has a 12 bar blues chord progression. Or every pop song that uses a 50’s progression, or a doo-wop progression (I–vi–IV–V) – did all of these famous artists rip each other off? I think not. There are always gonna be songs that sound similar to other songs. Check out the blog I wrote, “Did I get Ed Sheeran Sued?” One of the most credible singer/songwriters around right now is being accused of ripping of Marvin Gaye. “FFS bore off!” No true artist would intentionally steal someone elses’ work. I hadn’t even heard ‘Monkey Man’ when I wrote ‘Ireland’. With just 12 notes in a chromatic scale, of course some songs are gonna resemble others. BUT lyrically, structurally, dynamically, conceptually and melodically, that’s how songs really differ. Or at least my track “Ireland” does! End of rant.

Watch out for the remix of “Ireland” coming soon.

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