This is a transcript of the video "Everything is a Remix" Part 1.
Remix. To combine or edit existing materials to produce something new
The term remix originally applied to music. It rose to prominence late last century during the heyday of hip-hop, the first musical form to incorporate sampling from existing recordings.
Early example: the Sugarhill Gang samples the bass riff from Chic’s “Good Times” in the 1979 hit “Rapper’s Delight”.
Rapper’s Delight, The Sugarhill Gang
Good Times, Chic
Since then that same bassline has been sampled dozens of times.
The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash Grandmaster Flash
Everything’s Gonna be Alright Father MC
It’s All Good Will Smith
2345Meia78 Gabriel O Pensador
Around the World Daft Punk
Skip ahead to the present and anybody can remix anything — music, video, photos, whatever — and distribute it globally pretty much instantly.
You don’t need expensive tools, you don’t need a distributor, you don’t even need skills. Remixing is a folk art — anybody can do it. Yet these techniques — collecting material, combining it, transforming it — are the same ones used at any level of creation. You could even say that everything is a remix.
To explain, let’s start in England in 1968.
Part One: The Song Remains the Same
Jimmy Page recruits John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and John Bonham to form Zed Zeppelin. They play extremely loud blues music that soon will be known as—
Wait, let’s start in Paris in 1961.
William Burroughs coins the term “heavy metal” in the novel “The Soft Machine,” a book composed using the cut-up technique, taking existing writing and literally chopping it up and rearranging it. So in 1961 William Burroughs not only invents the term “heavy metal,” the brand of music Zeppelin and a few other groups would pioneer, he also produces an early remix.
Back to Zeppelin.
By the mid-1970s Led Zeppelin are the biggest touring rock band in America, yet many critics and peers label them as… rip-offs. The case goes like this.
The opening and closing sections of “Bring it on Home” are lifted from a tune by Willie Dixon entitled — not coincidentally — “Bring it on Home.”
Bring it on Home (Page, Plant)
Bring it on Home (Dixon) Performed by Sonny Boy Williamson
“The Lemon Song” lifts numerous lyrics from Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor.”
The Lemon Song (Page, Plant)
Killing Floor (Burnett)
“Black Mountain Side” lifts its melody from “Blackwaterside,” a traditional arranged by Bert Jansch.
Black Mountain Side (Page)
Blackwaterside (Traditional, Arranged Jansch)
“Dazed and Confused” features different lyrics but is clearly an uncredited cover of the same-titled song by Jake Holmes. Oddly enough, Holmes files suit over forty years later in 2010.
Dazed and Confused (Page)
Dazed and Confused (Holmes)
And the big one, “Stairway to Heaven” pulls its opening from Spirit’s “Taurus.” Zeppelin toured with Spirit in 1968, three years before “Stairway” was released.
Stairway to Heaven (Page, Plant)
Zeppelin clearly copied a lot of amount of other people’s material, but that alone, isn’t unusual. Only two things distinguished Zeppelin from their peers.
Firstly, when Zeppelin used someone else’s material, they didn’t attribute songwriting to the original artist. Most British blues groups were recording lots of covers, but unlike Zeppelin, they didn’t claim to have written them.
Secondly, Led Zeppelin didn’t modify their versions enough to claim they were original. Many bands knock-off acts that came before them, but they tend to emulate the general sound rather than specific lyrics or melodies. Zeppelin copied without making fundamental changes.
So, these two things
Covers: performances of other people’s material
And knock-offs: copies that stay within legal boundaries
These are long-standing examples of legal remixing. This stuff accounts for almost everything the entertainment industry produces, and that’s where we’re headedin part two.
Written and Mixed by Kirby Ferguson
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Full sources, references, and purchase links at EverythingisaRemix.info
Wait, one last thing. In the wake of their enormous success, Led Zeppelin went from the copier to the copied. First in the 70s with groups like Aerosmith, Heart and Boston, then during the eighties heavy metal craze, and on into the era of sampling. Here’s the beats from “When the Levee Breaks” getting sampled and remixed.
When the Levee Breaks Led Zeppelin
Rhymin’ and Stealin’ Beastie Boys
Return to Innocence Enigma
Lyrical Gangbang Dr. Dre
In Zeppelin’s defense, they never sued anybody.
Hi, I’m Kirby, I made the video you just watched, Everything is a Remix. If you enjoyed the video please head over to EverythingisaRemix.info and donate some money. Anything you can muster would be greatly appreciated and will help me dedicate time to completing the remaining three episodes – it’s going to be a four part series. The site has plenty of complimentary information that I think you might find interesting as well. You can also find links to songs and videos and stuff from the video. If you happen to like them you can go there and purchase them. It’s also a good way to keep up with the latest with what’s going on with the series. I think that’s it. Okay, thank you for watching and I’ll see you next time.