“What rhymes with hug me?”
Those are lyrics by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, but the singers’ lawyer said they will fight the March 10 court ruling over copyright infringement for their song “Blurred Lines.” The musicians were ordered to pay $7.4 million to Marvin Gaye’s family for plagiarizing his 1977 hit, “Got To Give It Up.”
Listen to the rip-off here:
The Associated Press reported that “Gaye’s daughter, Nona Gaye, wept as the verdict was read and later told reporters, ‘Right now, I feel free. Free from … Pharrell Williams’ and Robin Thicke’s chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told.’”
I was thrilled to hear the news, mainly because I’m sick and tired — of being sick and tired — over misogyny and pro-rape songs that earn millions for the pigs who wrote them.
I’ll save you the trouble of Googling — here’s a taste of the disgusting “Blurred Lines” lyrics:
“And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl/ I know you want it …”
“I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two …”
“[I’m] nothing like your last guy, he too square for you. He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that …”
“Don’t get confused, you git’n it? …”
“Do it like it hurt …”
“I’m just watchin’ and waitin’ for you to salute the truly pimpin …’”
YouTube banned the original video but, as you know, once something is on the web, it’s impossible to scrub it off.
I grew up in a house full of soul, R&B and Motown. Dad was in charge of two New York City radio stations, WWRL and WRVR. Every night, he brought home promotional copies of records by Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, James Brown — and nobody sang about bitches and hoes.
The music transported me out of my suburban malaise, and I’d lift the needle off the records to replay and memorize each lyric. Using my hairbrush as a mic, I sang “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “What’s Going On” into the mirror and imagined a glamorous life like a star I’d elevated to godlike proportions.
When I heard the misogynists were being made to pay millions for ripping off Marvin Gaye, it felt like justice. And I still think it is, but when I found myself jumping from website to website to read about Marvin Gaye’s “glamorous” life, it was crushing to be reminded of his volatile temper, multiple suicide attempts, infidelities and failed marriages, drug and alcohol addictions, IRS debt and a childhood full of brutal beatings by his father.
Gaye’s runaway train life crashed on April 1, 1984, when his dad shot and killed him.
For me, the ’80s were filled with clubbing, cocaine, rum and Diet Cokes, space-age clothes and getting down to songs like “Got To Give It Up.” Promiscuity was still socially acceptable because it was just the beginning of AIDS; people thought that only happened to gay men. Richard Pryor set himself on fire, Karen Carpenter died of anorexia, and John Lennon was shot and killed by a whacko named Mark David Chapman. It was a horrible time of grief. But when Marvin Gaye was murdered, it hit me hardest of all; I cried for days over the man I’d been listening to and idolizing since second grade.
So, yes, I’m “Happy” that Thicke and Pharrell were ordered to pay for their plagiarism. “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.”
This ain’t the first time a song was stolen, though. George Harrison had to pay $500,000 to the writers of The Chiffons’ 1962 hit “She’s So Fine” for his copyright-infringement song, “My Sweet Lord.” And Michael Bolton had to pay The Isley Brothers $5 million for his “Love Is a Wonderful Thing” which sounded like their 1964 song — of the same title!
There are so many examples of musical ripoffs that there is even a website called Sounds Just Like about the common phenomenon.
Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.