Inspiration to fight the theft of someone else’s creativity.
In the arts, the only way to deal with it is if we’re harsh on those who go out of their way to steal work from peers. Every fiber of my being is drawn to Led Zeppelin whenever they come on. “The sound is good for you,” my senses will say. “Listen to Plant’s soulful voice. And that guitar. Look at Page go.”
Even though you can’t actually “look” at Page “go,” their music can captivate your eyes in a way that makes them wish you could see the sound. Maybe the reason that happens is because they’re desperate to reach that point of visual synesthesia which is otherwise unattainable unless you’re on LSD or are Jimi Hendrix. The music is just that powerful.
While my senses will tell me to listen to Led Zeppelin, the reality is they’re thieves. My body says yes but my heart says no. Not just any “no” either. It’s a resounding one.
Stealing from the Poor
The fact is Zeppelin is a group of white Anglo-Saxon Brits spewing the lyrics of black blues musicians whose creativity was spawned during a pre-Civil Rights America. These guys went through the pain of being black men and women in the south and here comes these guys from Britain taking their work without having any knowledge of how the pain from the music came about.
Now in case you don’t know what I’m talking about here is a video that goes song-by-song the lyrics Led Zeppelin lifted.
These are a Few Names Led Zeppelin Took From:
♦ Jake Holmes (Sued Jimmy Page for copyright infringement in 2010)
♦ Howlin’ Wolf (A lawsuit added Wolf to the credit of the “Lemon Song” after courts found they lifting a song titled “Killing Floor.”)
♦ Spirit (Currently in the middle of a copyright dispute with Jimmy Paige over Stairway to heaven.)
♦ Willy Dixon (At top of article, that’s Willy alongside a photo of the band in front of their private airplane. Dixon was added to the credits of “Whole Lotta Love” after courts found the group lifted the lyrics to the Dixon song You Need Love.)
♦ Muddy Waters (Not only was waters attached to the “Whole Lotta Love” suit, they also blatantly took credit for the Waters’ song “You Shook Me.”)
♦ Robert Johnson (Led Zeppelin’s was said to have “borrowed heavily” from Robert Johnson with the song Traveling Riverside Blues. Once again no attribution was given.)
♦ Moby Grape (“Since I’ve Been Loving” was a song whose lyrical origins came from the artist Moby Grape.)
Knowing all this I can’t in good conscious listen to them. If you’re a person with a regular 9-5, or don’t ever plan on delving into the creative field, I get why you would listen to them. They’re fantastic. Artistic integrity isn’t a necessary commodity in your life. For me, or anybody in the broad spectrum that is the arts, giving credence to thieves is like failing a drug test in the regular world. Instead of being found with illicit substances in your blood stream though, you’re found harboring plagiarists.
How could I ever show my support to those who are threatening to myself and my peers? Even though I don’t come from a place of music – because I’m just not smart enough to figure out notes – having the ability to take something which once existed only in your head space and having the ability to bring it to life is a person I consider peer. Musicians, writers, painters etc. – we’re all in the same boat.
A Bad Defense of Zeppelin
There’s the argument that Zeppelin did the music better than the original artists but that still doesn’t take away from the fact that they stole another human being’s work and sold it off on their own. It’s a shame more of us don’t look at instances such as these the same way we look at a person who steals credit cards.
Lawsuits and courtroom appearances aren’t enough. If there is enough proof, copyright thieves should be labeled felons. In the end, Zeppelin and credit card thieves do the same thing. They walk around pretending to be somebody else and spend-spend-spend in another’s name.
After years of wearing the same Led Zeppelin hoodie as a teenager, knowing they stole breaks my heart. The tragedy is they are a glorified cover band parading around as rock gods. They’re last album, In Through the Out Door, one I relegated as a joke with goofy songs such as “Carouselambra”, is technically their first album. Justin Bieber has more original hits than Led Zeppelin.
If you are a creator, the last thing you should be doing is listening to Zeppelin. If anything, all of us should come together as one to start a #InventTimeMachinesToBringTorrentsIntoThePastAndSeedOnlyZeppelin hashtag. This way the science community can get in on dealing with thieves. In the end, Zeppelin will struggle with album sales – which is a decent trade-off considering none of their work is original.
This time machine idea may ruin their record sales but at least they’ll still be able to tour. Who wouldn’t want to see the greatest cover band ever?
81 Total Counts of Plagiarism in Alex Haley’s Roots
Recently I had to put down Roots for the same reason I stopped listening to Zeppelin. Apparently Alex Haley lifted a lot of the stories of Kunta Kinte from a book called “The African.” Just as Zeppelin was sued countless times for copyright infringement, so too was Haley. The author of the African, Harold Courlander, took Haley to court and was given a generous reward of six figures for helping Roots become the biggest story in African American History. In the end it was found that Haley amassed 81 counts of plagiarism in the case against him.
After years of denying he lifted from Courlander’s book, Haley admitted one of his researchers may have used it as a source once. Not only was it a letdown to hear this, I didn’t find out until I read through the first 188 pages. I was right at Kunta Kinte’s capture – the only reason we read Roots and it was a chore to get there.
There are only so many stories about hunting you can sit through. Get to the part that makes me feel like a guilty white person already!
The saddest part about all of this is that the people who have their work taken from under them will never bear the fruits of their labor. Roots inspired a movie widely regarded as “defining a generation.” In a way, it was America’s first mainstream look at slavery. All the money in the world doesn’t give Courlander the legacy Haley has.
Zeppelin was also a generation defining entity but most of the songs carrying them to that respect were robbed from less fortunate artists. This is why more artists need to join in solidarity to do whatever we can to shame the thieves. We don’t even have to tarnish their entire body of work. If they create something original, we should support them. Everyone needs to know what they took.
If you can’t toss these people in jail – with the main reason being this isn’t the country Rusev and Lana love – spreading the word of their deeds is just. Why do you think Carlos Mencia went from being the next big comedy act on par with Dane Cook ten-years-ago to being a relative unknown today? When the proof of his thievery came out and comics dubbed him “Carlos Menstelia”, he lost credibility. Comedy Central cancelled his TV show and his HBO specials stopped rolling in.
If you’re in the position to have your own show and you took jokes from Mexican open mic’ers in Los Angeles, you can’t even complain about backlash. It’s good that he’s able to get work at clubs and on the road but his meteoric rise needed to fizzle. Especially when the stuff that shot his career through the stars wasn’t original.
This probably sounds harsh but imagine a credit card thief buys himself a TV with your money? Now imagine that this thief gets to keep it and you still have to foot the bill. It’s unfair right?
Well so is giving credibility to the likes of an Alex Haley, Led Zeppelin or Carlos Mencia.
PS: This opinions in this article are the author’s.