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The radio was on and I wasn’t really listening until a cover version of Simon and Garfunkel’s 1960’s classic, The Sound of Silence, came on and, being completely different to the original, carved its way into my consciousness. It was a highly novel take on the track which was why it stood out so much. It turns out it was created by Disturbed, a heavy metal outfit from Chicago who had genuinely created something new and interesting with refreshed interpretation of the lyrics and melody rather than a bland mimic of the original.
So what? Well it got me thinking about covers and the various reasons why people do them. Some add to the overall creative pool and some don’t. There are the individually surprising cover versions that creatively enhance the original material – Disturbed and The Sound of Silence, Lissie and Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way or Linkin Park with Adele’s Rolling In The Deep for example. All add to the general font of creativity and, importantly, all give credit to the inspiration and intellectual property of the original makers recognising the inventive genuis that delivered it to us in the first place.
Then there are tribute acts that try to emulate their musical heroes as closely as possible in a bid to make their audiences feel like they are experiencing the real thing but everyone is in on the joke – the audience know that they are watching a genuine fake and everyone is perfectly happy. Some are truly magnificent and some are truly awful – but they are always a damn good laugh because no one, including themselves, takes them too seriously.
Lastly, of course, there are those who earn their money by simply copying the original intending to pass it off to the casual listener as the original – very often these outfits are incredibly successful and very clever at what they do. K-Tel led the way in this – hugely successful but not original at all. They reproduced the original recordings having negotiated licences to do so from the original artists or labels. And there lies the rub. They negotiated licences to produce copies because the music industry recognises copyright and intellectual property and the need to protect it, value it and pay for it.
Shame the food industry doesn’t. As written before, there is little that can be protected around recipes or products which is why there are so many covers of similar recipes with competitors copying products or recipes on a wholesale basis. Most are like the K-Tels of old – copying, reproducing and trousering profit adding no creativity at all. The critical difference is they don’t in any way pay for or recognise the IP they use. Instead they effectively steal it. To quote the lyrics, there is something of the sound of silence around this which no one seems dare disturb but it’s time it was bloody disturbed. This theft of IP needs to stop lest the level of frustration from genuinely creative and innovative producers who, seeing their work mercilessly ripped off and regurgitated by thieves, give up the ghost and themselves become The Sound of Silence losing all that creativity in the process. Time to get Disturbed.