One of my favorite (and affordable) ways of discovering music is trawling for vinyl at local secondhand shops. Of course, you have to wade through a lot of Andre Kostelanetz and Percy Faith to find something worthwhile, but that’s part of the fun – and adventure. It’s not uncommon to find boxed sets in excellent condition, such as this 6-LP offering by Columbia that I picked up for 5 bucks:
At this point I need to stop and ask: do you remember where you were when you first learned that George Harrison lost a major court battle, having been found to have “unconsciously” plagiarized the melody of the Chiffons’ 1963 hit “He’s So Fine” for his 1970-71 worldwide smash, “My Sweet Lord“? When I first learned of the charges, I was pretty outraged on George’s behalf and took George at his word when he professed his innocence. I thought the accusation was a bit of a stretch, to put it mildly, and a naked attempt to shake down an ex-Beatle for a big payday. I realize now I had been blinded by Beatle love.
Apparently, others noticed the melodic similarity between the two tunes, such as the dobro player who backed Jody Miller on her 1971 country pop cover version of “He’s So Fine” – one of the songs on the 6-LP box set that caught my ear. Nice intro, great arrangement, crisp guitar lines – and humorous incorporation of George’s distinctive slide guitar part from “My Sweet Lord”:
“He’s So Fine” Jody Miller 1971
Most fascinatingly – as Chip Madinger & Mark Easter point out in Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium – Phil Spector, the master of the early 60s “girl group” sound and the producer who spun the dials for “My Sweet Lord,” failed to notice the similiarity. Which I think qualifies as ironic.
As Rolling Stone points out, the resulting lawsuit – filed in 1971 and litigated until 1998 – makes it “one of the longest legal skirmishes in American history.”