When it comes to songwriting, any composer can find themselves borrowing from their favorite influences. No matter how some people may claim to be born with a musical genius, it’s impossible not to listen to some of your favorite artists who have come before you.
Again, whether you hide it well or not, that’s another story.
In addition to some of the most famous songs in rock history, there are a lot of artists who did these renditions much better the first time around. For a rip off though, these artists have at least done a useful job of trying to hide their influences, even going so far as to place the idea of the riff or song in a completely different context from the original.
In fact, some of these songs have hidden a lot of their influences in plain sight, to fly over the heads of your average listeners until someone points out to them.
Sometimes the song isn’t even a scam of a specific tune, but rather is done so tightly in a style that you can’t really dispute its lineage. While some fall into the realm of homage, there are a few songs that lean a bit too close to the line of plagiarism. Inspired or not, we have at least two awesome songs based on the same idea.
Tom Petty’s American Girl has been chosen by rock musicians for years now. While this ode to the heart has its place in rock history, many people like to mention how many people scammed it, right down to the Strokes admitting their influence on their song’s intro Last Nite. Then again, how many people tend to refer to Petty himself as the plagiarist?
As for the construction of the song, there isn’t much to complain about, given that it would become the foundation of Petty’s career with the Heartbreakers. No, the crime here comes from the way the song is played rather than the notes. While Petty has always admitted his influence on bands like the Rolling Stones and The Beatles, this is pure Byrds pastiche, with a guitar line that feels straight out of the Mr. Tambourine Man era. .
It’s not like the Byrds aren’t aware of the similarities either, with Roger McGuinn asking “when did I record this?” when his manager first performed the song for him. This is by no means malicious plagiarism, but rather a friendly tribute to one of the most melodious acts of the 1960s. As far as some bands wear their influences on their sleeve, American Girl has its influences written on his face.