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Plagiarism or not? Listen to these songs and listen carefully

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Here is a book that will make you listen. Because it is a question in the vast world of music to go hunting, if not for plagiarism, at least for very strong resemblances between two songs. In his “Anthology of blunders and other curiosities of French song”, Alister devotes a chapter to these “more or less voluntary borrowings” between singers. He finds similar melodies, assumed influences, dubious family resemblances. We meet Jean-Jacques Goldman, Michel Delpech, David Bowie, Serge Gainsbourg… and many more.

We asked Alister to dissect five examples from his book for “L’Obs”:

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– “Le Loir-et-Cher” by Michel Delpech (1977) and “Get back” by the Beatles (1969)

– “Aline” by Christophe (1965) and “La Romance” by Jacky Moulière (1963)

– “We” by Hervé Vilard (1978) and “Life on Mars” by David Bowie (1971)

– “The Jerk” by Thierry Hazard (1990) and “When the music is good” by Jean-Jacques Goldman (1982)

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– “Amsterdam” by Jacques Brel (1964) and “Greensleeves” (traditional English music from the 16th century)

“Claude François is the object of a contempt that says a lot about our culture”

In some cases, the resemblance is striking and the case can then end up in court. In others, inspiration is strong but talent makes the difference. Watch, listen, and form your own opinion.

Anthology of blunders and other curiosities of French songby Alister, La Tengo, 200 p., 22 euros.

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