Pop star Ed Sheeran recently found himself at the center of a copyright case where his song “Thinking Out Loud” was being accused of lifting from Marvin Gaye’s 1973 classic, “Let’s Get It On,” And during a recent chat with Orlando’s 94.3 The Shark (as seen below), Corey Taylor broke down one key thing that came out of the recent ruling in Sheeran’s favor that should keep some of these suits from coming up.
“The thing that I love that [Ed] proved is that chord progressions are going to be similar going all the way back, going all the way forward,” said Taylor, noting, “It’s what you do over the top of them [that separates it].”
“A lot of people won’t know this – music cannot be copywritten [sic],” added the singer. “Now lyrics and melodies can, because that is the stuff that truly changes and shapes, which one of the reasons why, if you can show that the melody and the phrasing is the same, then you have copyright infringement. But if the music feels similar, there’s nothing you can really do about it because those chord progressions have been the same for years, going all the way back.”
In the trial, Sheeran and his legal team argued that the chord progression used were commonplace musical building blocks that have turned up in dozens of other songs, while noting that there were even songs prior to Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” that had used those progressions.
“I am obviously very happy with the outcome of the case,” Sheeran said in a statement outside the courthouse. “At the same time, I am unbelievably frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all.”
“We have spent the last eight years talking about two songs with dramatically different lyrics, melodies and four chords which are also different and used by songwriters every day, all over the world,” he continued. “These chords are common building blocks which were used to create music long before ‘Let’s Get It On’ was written and will be used to make music long after we are all gone. I am just a guy with a guitar who loves writing music for people to enjoy. I am not and will never allow myself to be a piggy bank for anyone to shake.”
As for Taylor, he continued to speak about how he combats the possibility that he could be left open to the same sort of legal action. “I have a very long memory when it comes to that stuff,” he explained. “Obviously, I try to avoid anything that sounds similar anyway. ‘Cause that stuff doesn’t interest me. So I really go above and beyond to really try and make sure that everything I do sounds different, feels different. And if it does start to sound a little too similar, I rein it in and I break it down and restructure it from scratch.”
He adds, “I’ve started whole other songs before and just gone right back to the drawing board. ‘Cause I’m, like, I don’t want anyone to come in and say that I stole this [and] I stole that. ‘Cause I’ve gotten in arguments with people before who have tried to tell me that I’ve done it. And I’m, like, ‘You’re an idiot. I’m gonna put these two songs right together. You show me on the doll where these songs are the same. And if not, you kiss my ass, man.’ And it’s very satisfying.”
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These days Taylor is working toward releasing his next batch of original music, as his sophomore solo set CMF2 is on track for a Sept. 15 release. Earlier this month, he released the lead single “Beyond,” while announcing a headline tour to support the album. Pre-orders for CMF2 are available here, while you can get tickets to see Corey on tour at this location.