Procol Harum was not exactly a one hit wonder, but they only had one megahit, 1967's A Whiter Shade of Pale. Two verses a chorus of hard to decipher lyrics became a huge hit and a still respected classic, due in no small part to the keyboard melody. In 2005, the organist Matthew Fisher sued for a claim of a portion of the royalties and won. This week the ruling was reversed, by a judge with the great name of Lord Justice Mummery, who said that by waiting 38 years Fisher was “guilty of excessive and inexcusable delay in asserting his claim”.
So as it stands, Fisher has 40% songwriting credits and they aren't worth a dime, and who will pay the hundreds of thousands of pounds in court costs is currently up in the air.
I hate to see ex-bandmates act like this. I am very lucky to be pals still with Padre Mickey, but then again, none of our songs became megahits worth jillions of dollars, with one of us having songwriting credits and the other left with nothing but memories of gigs and recording sessions.
PLEASE TO BE UPSTANDING! THE COURT OF MUSICAL JUSTICE IS NOW IN SESSION! THE HONORABLE MY SWEET LORD JUSTICE MATTY BOY IS PRESIDING!
Thank you, bailiff. I have heard the arguments on both sides and heard the song more times than I can count. If it were in my power, I would include a ruling that the writers of this song be liable for the hearing loss incurred by uncounted thousands of listeners who shoved their heads as close to the speakers as possible to make out the lyrics. That said, what makes the song special is the melody played on the organ, which contrary to popular belief, was not so much stolen from Johann Sebastian Bach as it was inspired by Air on a G String and Sleepers, Awake. Without that, you have a song about getting drunk while playing solitaire and staring awkwardly at a hippie chick with a hangover, not exactly the sort of thing that would have inspired a kajillion prom night assignations. Even Sir Paul McCartney now admits that Whiter Shade of Pale was the song that brought he and Linda together. You can't buy memories like that.
This court now decrees that the sole remaining living owner of the copyright has to do is get over himself, pay the court costs and throw the organ player a few quid. You are both indescribably old and this sort of behavior is ruining a good tune for the rest of us. That you forgot to give him a cut in 1967 is pretty bad behavior, but I think it's a safe bet to say you were both stoned at the time. Now that you both need drugs just to keep your kidneys functioning, stop acting like kids and help an old mate out. It's the least you can do.
PLEASE TO BE UPSTANDING! NOW THAT HE IS DONE TAKIN' CARE OF BUSINESS, THE HONORABLE MY SWEET LORD JUSTICE MATTY BOY HAS LEFT THE BUILDING! TAPES AND CDS AND MP3 DOWNLOADS ARE AVAILABLE IN THE LOBBY, AS WELL AS OTHER COOL MERCHANDISE, NOT ALL OF WHICH IS OFFICIAL!
And since it's Friday, let's have a Random 10 with as little legal haggling as possible.
Cancer Joe Jackson
Standing ‘Round Crying Eric Clapton
Cold Water Tom Waits
Green Shirt Elvis Costello & the Attractions
Cry A While Bob Dylan
She Said She Said The Beatles
I’d Rather Go Blind Etta James
State Trooper Bruce Springsteen
Waiting In Vain Bob Marley & The Wailers
Lazy River Hoagy Carmichael
Not a bad collection, though for songs written by successful young people, there's a whole lot of lyrical content about death, disease and disability in these tunes. Luckily, it ends with Bob Marley singing about a more typical pop song topic, unrequited love, and Hoagy Carmichael, writing from a few generations before the rock era, singing a song of bucolic innocence.
Yay, Flags of Many Lands™!