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Bob Dylan vs. Hootie & The Blowfish: What happened?


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7 replies to this topic

#1 of 8 Greg_Y

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Posted March 20 2002 - 09:21 AM

I'm sure someone out there can explain this to me. In 1994, the Hootie & The Blowfish album Cracked Rear View came out of nowhere with a few hit songs for the band. One of those hits was "Only Wanna Be With You". You may remember the video which was shown on VH1 approximately every 7 minutes.

OK, now to the point. The lyrics to "Only Wanna Be With You" included this:
Quote:
Put on a little dylan
Sittin' on a fence
I said, "that line is great" you asked me what it meant by
Said I shot a man named gray
Took his wife to italy
She inherited a million bucks, and when she died it came to me
I can't help it if I'm lucky

The only problem is, part of that is an exact copy of a few lines from Bob Dylan's "Idiot Wind", from the Blood on the Tracks album:
Quote:
They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy,
She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me.
I can't help it if I'm lucky.

Wasn't there a court case or a settlement of some type after Hootie's song hit it big? I can't remember what happened, having only heard about it casually. And more importantly, how the heck could Hootie & The Blowfish be so dumb as to steal a lyric and think that no one would notice it? I've wondered about this for a while. Anyone have the straight dope?

NP: Rolling Stones - "Itchy Fingers"

#2 of 8 Tom Ryan

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Posted March 20 2002 - 01:23 PM

I never heard about such a case....but are you listening to "Itchy Fingers", or "Sticky Fingers" Greg?

-Tom

#3 of 8 Vince Maskeeper

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Posted March 20 2002 - 01:40 PM

Greg,

I'm not a hootie fan, but that seems like a rather obvious allusion and direct quote of the dylan song rather than "stolen lyrics". I'm 100% positive this isn't a stolen lyric, or "dumb" as you suggest- rather they are obviously talking about the Dylan song and quoting from it in the context of their song.

The song names Dylan by name in the opening line, and then says "I said, "that line is great" you asked me what it meant by:" and proceeds to QUOTE from the line of the song in question. I wouldn't imagine Hootie and his Fish friends were trying to pass the lyric off as their own- and made no hesitation to make direct ref to Dylan in the preceeding lines.

It's like you're telling a story and say "Have you every heard that song that goes 'all in all, were just another brick in the wall'?"-- you didn't claim the line was yours. The song lyrics you quoted from Hootie seem to be recounting a time talking about thosee specific Dylan lines with someone else.

Literature makes direct and indirect allusions to other literature, you see the same in art, even movies and TV. Seems natural that you'd see it in music.

I find it suprising and petty that Dylan would sue over such a small piece of lyrics- especially when it was made in such a way as to pay honor to Dylan. Granted, Hootie sucked balls, so maybe Dylan was offended more at who made the allusion rather than the fact that it was made ("I inpired what? Those guys suck, I should sue.")

I searched the net and could find no real ref to this, other than second hand mentions in other articles. I wonder if it is a quasi-urban legend.

Here's another example from the song "you were right" by built to spill:

Quote:
You were wrong when you said
Everything's gonna be alright
You were right when you said All that glitters isn't gold
You were right when you said All we are is dust in the wind
You were right when you said We are all just bricks in the wall
And when you said manic depression's a frustrating mess
You were right when you said You can't always get what you want
You were right when you said It's a hard rain's gonna fall
You were right when you said We're still running against the wind
And life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone
You were right when you said This is the end.

These are all obvious allusions to other popular cliche rock songs of the 1970's, Including Dylan:

"Everything's gonna be alright" - Bob Marley "No Woman No Cry"
"All that glitters isn't gold" - Led Zeppelin "Stairway to Heaven"
"All we are is dust in the wind" - Kansas "Dust in the Wind"
"We are all just bricks in the wall" - Pink Floyd "The Wall"
"Manic depression's a frustrating mess" - Jimi Hendrix "Manic Depression"
"You can't always get what you want" - Rolling Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
"It's a hard rain's gonna fall" - Bob Dylan "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"
"We're still running against the wind" - Bob Seger "Against the Wind"
"Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone" - John Cougar Mellencamp "Jack and Diane"
"This is the end" - The Doors "The End"


Again- I think to suggest that the Hootie band had any intention of passing the lyric off as their own, especially "foolishly" as you suggest is rediculous. It's an obvious ref directly to the song in question, and even properly attributed in the context of the lyrics (and probably in the album notes as well).

-Vince

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#4 of 8 Greg_Y

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Posted March 20 2002 - 02:13 PM

Quote:
but are you listening to "Itchy Fingers", or "Sticky Fingers" Greg?

"Itchy Fingers." It's a compilation of demos, outtakes, studio jams and instrumentals from the "Let It Bleed" and "Sticky Fingers" sessions.

Quote:
It's an obvious ref directly to the song in question, and even properly attributed in the context of the lyrics (and probably in the album notes as well).

I think that might have been part of the problem. They never attributed it to him or gave him proper credit. I'm just trying to find the full story. I don't know if Dylan sued, per se, or even threatened legal action. In fact, all I can remember is that the two parties reached an agreement, which probably meant nothing more than a credit to Dylan, possibly in subsequent album pressings (?). I'm trying to find out why they wouldn't credit him in the first place. It just seems to, well, silly.

#5 of 8 Andy Anderson

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Posted March 21 2002 - 04:49 AM

Not that I'm a Hootie fan or anything, *shudder* but I've sung that song a couple of times in karaoke. The next line is "..ain't Bobby so cool.." Agreeing with Vince--I don't think it's a rip-off of any kind, I think it's a bit of an homage.

Andy

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#6 of 8 Rich Malloy

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Posted March 21 2002 - 05:54 AM

I've never heard anything about a lawsuit, and I doubt one would be warranted for such a quotation, but I remember well the first time I listened to the lyrics of that song (as opposed to simply enduring it).

Burned my ass, let me tell ya. The idea that some kinda lame-ass poseurs would attempt to adorn their fratrock muzak with lyrics from one of Dylan's greatest songs is simply a travesty. Not an actionable travesty, but a travesty nonetheless.

From the New York Sessions version of "Idiot Wind":

I been double-crossed too much,
At times I think I've almost lost my mind
Lady-killers load ice on me behind my back,

While imitators steal me blind

You close your eyes and part your lips,
And slip your fingers from your glove
You can have the best there is,
But it's gonna cost you all your love...

You won't get it for money.

Idiot wind, blowing like a sock around my skull,
From the Grand Coulee Dam to the capitol.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you hear Hootie,
He's an idiot, babe.
It's a wonder that he still knows how to steal.

"Only one is a wanderer;
Two together are always going somewhere."

#7 of 8 Vince Maskeeper

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Posted March 21 2002 - 06:07 AM

LOL!

Funny. I think the popularity of Hootie proves, without a doubt, the people will buy whatever they're sold. Heck, I even heard one guy argue against being called a racist by claiming he liked Hootie and the Blowfish.

Posted Image

LOL

-Vince

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#8 of 8 Greg_Y

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Posted March 21 2002 - 11:48 AM

Well I haven't found any good information yet. I don't imagine I'm going to find details on an out-of-court settlement on the web. But I did find this at a number of different sites:
Quote:
Nov. 3, 1995: Bob Dylan and Hootie and the Blowfish reach an out of court settlement for the group's unauthorized use of Dylan's lyrics in their song "Only Want To Be With You"

NP: Bob Dylan - Genuine N.E.T. Covers


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