Reinventing the Wheel by Cathy Baldwin, DaCat Music
Do you ever watch Shark Tank? I really enjoy this show because it is so relevant to everyday life. People come on every week not with new ideas but old ideas that they have reinvented. (Ok a couple of new ideas but mostly reinvented ones). As I look around I see that people reinvent constantly, especially in the arts. Sometimes it is so blatant that it is hard to believe someone isn’t screaming “Copyright Infringement!”
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. There were some men on shark tank a while back with new clothing for hunters. It really wasn’t a new idea, after all camouflage has been around a long time. What these guys did was to just reinvent it a little. They went out and took pictures of nature and different kinds of weather and got those pictures printed on to clothing, so that a hunter would completely blend in to the wilderness regardless of the season. This was a marked improvement over the traditional camouflage that had been available. I see the same thing happen in songwriting.
Let’s take the song Kentucky Rain by Elvis Presley – great song! And a big hit for Elvis. The basic story of the song is boy loses girl and goes out in the Kentucky Rain to find her. Now move forward about 20 years to Smokey Mountain Rain by Ronnie Milsap – another great song that was a big hit for Ronnie. Basic story – boy loses girl and goes out looking for her in the Smokey Mountain Rain. Now if you put the lyrics of these two songs side by side, you’ll see that Smokey Mountain Rain is not a word for word copy of Kentucky Rain, therefore no Copyright infringement, however the story’s are close enough that you would probably agree that Smokey Mountain Rain is kind of a rewrite of Kentucky Rain. And that my friend is how hits are born! Take a good listen to some of the songs that are big hits today and if you look around you’ll probably find that someone had the same idea some years ago and today’s hit is just kind of a rewrite. After all, in country music we are looking for people to “say the same old thing in a different way”. So next time you run into writers block, pull out one of your favorite songs and try re-writing it in a different way!