An interesting recent Wall Street Journal article, The Song That Conquered Radio, about the Righteous Brothers’ song “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,'” one of the most-played songs of all time. Some of the comments from the creators are illuminating:
… Cynthia Weil: We all planned to write together the next day. But back at the hotel, Barry and I started a draft. We loved the yearning of the Four Tops’ “Baby I Need Your Loving.” Barry came up with our opening line: “You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips.”
Mr. Mann: My heart had been broken a few times, so it wasn’t a stretch. I also might have been influenced by “I love how your eyes close, whenever you kiss me“—the opening line to “I Love How You Love Me,” a song I had co-written in 1961.
… Mr. Mann: For the bridge, Phil experimented on the piano with a “Hang On Sloopy” riff. It was brilliant. I built a melody on the riff while Cynthia shouted out lyrics: “Baby, baby, I get down on my knees for you” and so on. When we met the Righteous Brothers a few days later, we were nervous they might not like it.
Notice how the artists admit that they were influenced by and even borrowed from previous songs, such as one by the Four Tops, and Hang On Sloopy, and even one of their previous songs—but they are not even sure about the latter. Artists are usually not even completely aware of their influences, things that they borrow from and build on and remix. And this is as it should be.
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