Vid's Space

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Familiar Music

So, back around 2004-ish, I was already familiar with the songs “Steppin' Out” by Joe Jackson and “Day After Day” by Badfinger, from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and real classic rock radio stations, respectively. Then I heard this song that sounded really similar to the former, but the verses began with a few notes almost exactly like the latter. Well, it turns out the song was “Breaking Us In Two” by Joe Jackson. So of course it sounds like that other Joe Jackson song, but I think Badfinger might still have a case with the similar melody.

I've been a fan of “Weird Al” Yankovic for a long time. Somehow, it took me until a few years ago to discover the song “Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota”. Not actually a parody of an existing song, it's a rambling yet charming tune that reminds me a bit of my family vacations in the 90's, even though I think Al was trying to go for more of a 60's experience. The song also reminds me of “30,000 Pounds of Bananas” by Harry Chapin, but I can't put my finger on exactly why. Incidentally, my dad had a Harry Chapin tape we'd listen to on road trips, including that song, which became something of a family favorite. Anyway, then I found a “Weird Al” fan website which had a section about Al's original songs. Specifically, it pointed out that many of them sounded quite similar to existing songs, even though they weren't explicit parodies. There were opinions from many people on this subject. Several apparently agreed with me that “Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” sounds like Harry Chapin's style generally, and a few agreed that it sounds like his song “30,000 Pounds of Bananas” specifically.

I recommend both songs, if you haven't heard them. But regarding “30,000 Pounds of Bananas”, I suggest getting to know the studio version (5 minutes, hard to find) before listening to the live version (10 minutes, more commonly found).

I don't generally listen to new music, but it was hard to avoid Gotye's “Somebody I Used To Know” last year. Elements of it sounded familiar, however. Then a friend of mine showed me a parody, “A Song I Used To Know”, which compared the song to both “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”; mystery solved! It's quite an amusing parody, but be warned: there's just a bit of profanity.

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