Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck accused of stealing lyrics on new album

Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck have been accused of stealing lyrics from an incarcerated man on their new collaborative album, 18.

The lyrics to the duo’s new song “Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade” were reportedly lifted from “Hobo Ben,” an old toast — or form of black folk poetry — delivered by the late Slim Wilson, a gambler, pimp, robber and murderer, Rolling stones reports. While in the Missouri State Penitentiary for armed robbery in 1964, Wilson met folklorist Bruce Jackson, who featured the convict’s work in his 1974 book on toasts titled Get your ass in the water and swim like me and a 1976 album of the same name.

“Hobo Leg” includes rough lines like “Ladies of culture and beauty so refined, Is there one among you who will give me wine? / I’m shabby I know, but I don’t stink / and God bless the lady who wants to buy me a drink“and”Heavy-hipped Hattie turned to Nadine with a grin / and said, ‘What that funky skier really needs, child, is a bath.'”

Several of these lines appear verbatim in “Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade”, such as “I’m rags, I know, but I don’t stink / God bless a lady who’ll buy me a drink“and”What the funky skier really needs, kid, is a bath.” However, the song is credited solely to Depp and Beck, with no mention of Wilson, Jackson or Get your ass in the water and swim like me.

“The only two lines I could find in the whole play [Depp and Beck] contribution is ‘Big time motherfucker’ and ‘But it down to my level,'” Jackson said Rolling stones. “Everything else is from Slim’s appearance in my book. I’ve never come across anything like it. I’ve been publishing stuff for 50 years and this is the first time someone has just ripped something off and put their own name on it.”

Listen to Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp’s ‘Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade’

Jackson’s son, Michael Lee Jackson, a music and intellectual property attorney, told the magazine that “it’s just not plausible, in my opinion, that Johnny Depp or anyone else could have sat down and made these lyrics without almost entirely taking them. from some version of my father’s recording and/or book in which they appeared.” He said he and his father are exploring legal options, but have not filed a lawsuit or sent a letter indicating one.

Although the lyrics to “Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade” appear to be directly lifted from “Hobo Ben,” a lawsuit would be far from a slam dunk due to the dish’s unclear origins and authorship. They are typically passed down orally through generations, and Wilson said he learned “Hobo Ben” from his father. “The lines in it look like other kinds of lines—not the specificity of the words, but the kinds of things that come up [in other toasts]Jackson said Rolling stones. “It’s simply part of that genre, like a bluesman doing a certain kind of riff.”

Kevin J. Greene, an attorney and law professor who has worked extensively on black music and copyright law, told the magazine that the “fixation doctrine” requires works to be written down or recorded in order to be copyrighted. This requirement has led to the exploitation and theft of many black artists’ work over the years.

If anything, Jackson may be able to claim “Hobo Ben” as he owns a copyright to the transcripts of the bowls recorded for Get your ass in the water and swim like me.

“He can do it as a courtesy and say, ‘I know this came from this tradition, so I’m just claiming copyright for my particular work,'” Greene explained. “But he basically has rights over all comers in terms of the record he would get on that job.” Jackson is less concerned about his work being trashed than he is about Wilson being properly credited.

“I don’t know if this record will sell,” he said Rolling stones. (It is not: 18 debuted at No. 183 on the Billboard 200.) “I’ve seen some reviews that I’d be very embarrassed to have gotten if they were my album. But if it sells, Johnny Depp is making a lot of money from it. Should it go to him, or should it go to a place that helps the people who produced this culture?”

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