Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lawyers Should Stay Out of the Entertainment Business

The same but different
“At more than $7.98 million, Bettman’s salary has more than doubled since the 2004-05 lockout which saw the entire hockey season cancelled. In that year, Bettman made $3.7 million.” (source Luke Fox,

And I really couldn't get a handle on whether the Chiffons vs. George Harrison musical case ever got resolved—He’s So Fine vs. My Sweet Lord.
So let’s kick this around a little, although I would much rather just kick the lawyers in this case.

I had a difficult time with the lead picture initially for this story. I was searching Google images “group of lawyers” in the image grouping and could only come up with the one which is an adaptation of one from

It seems that all the pictures (including Bettman’s picture in the Luke Fox story), had them beaming with smiles probably because they just got a lucrative case that will give them a nice steady income for as long as they can drag that out. And that is what lawyers are very good at. It isn’t in their best interest to actually come to a quick and amicable settlement which is how most normal people deal with disagreements. They seek to prolong the case since it is in their best interest to ensure a steady billing stream.

So I use the NHL predicament and the musical case above to discuss this concept. Think past to your youth (especially anybody who grew up with a future lawyer) and try to remember where that kid got picked in whatever game you were enjoying. He was usually in the last grouping and he dragged the game down because he just sucked at the sport or game and so he found that law was a game that he could be good at since he had no creative talent that you need to perform a sport or musically. But he could talk a good story, so the legal profession was calling.

How many lawyers do you know that have played professional sports or have performed live (musically) in front of a large crowd?  Lawyers can perform in front of a large crowd but I am talking specifically music here. Politicians are an example of lawyers who have developed an advanced level of performance skill in front of a large audience. When that gig is up, they go back to a law firm and charge an even higher hourly rate than before, so politics is good for their business in the long run.

So Gary has been “in charge” through two lockouts and the owners haven’t fired him yet for failure but a whole waft of General Managers and coaches have suffered that fate. Something’s wrong there for sure and he gets increases in salary as well. I would like to do the job for say $1 million a year but my friend and I have a better candidate for the job—Ron MacLean of Hockey Night in Canada fame. He knows the inner workings of the sport, is fair in his approach to disagreements and is sincerely concerned for the future of Canada’s most important game and form of entertainment. (Yes Marty, he would make a good commissioner. Marty is my friend who planted this seed).

From what I can figure out about the law suit regarding so called plagiarism in the two songs, is that it really was more about the fact that two groups of representatives from each side (lawyers) were arguing over the songs and that they were the same. The whole thing is compounded by the fact that they are simple and really lousy songs and that George probably thought it was worthy of putting down a track but mind altering stuff will do that to you.

The songs are both repetitive but here’s where they are different. A song isn’t just about the melody or the chord structure. A song is also a poem or short novel that tells a story and, in this case, they aren’t the same. The Chiffons are yada yada-ing about a boy that they all would like to capture and George is into his Krishna thing talking about his new found religion and his new guiding force in life. Sort of different aren’t they?

The problem is they use a similar chord structure and boring repetition (loops) so the story gets boring and you fall asleep. They are no Taxi or Better Place to Be, Yesterday, Bridge Over Troubled Waters or I Will Always Love You.

If the lawyers got hold of all the 12-bar blues songs that were ever written they would be fighting for payment to the families of a couple of guys (or maybe one) that started strumming out the pattern on the front porch of his broken down home because he was having a bad day. Being a slave would mean that you had a lot of those.

You don’t see BB King and Eric Clapton getting their lawyers together (probably because they don’t spend much time with lawyers) and fighting over whether their songs sound the same but they have a similar pattern because melodies in music are limited to just 12 notes and the blues scale has only 5 notes so there aren’t that many permutations. Sure you can play with the chord sequence a bit and create rifts in different octaves. But when you add the words to the song, well it’s the sky’s the limit here.

You didn’t see Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston battling over ownership of I Will Always Love You. Dolly wrote it and Whitney made it a huge success which Dolly acknowledges in her usual deep down honest approach to just about everything. I have both versions in my iTunes collection. To me they are really almost two different songs but Dolly wrote the melody and the words and Whitney took it over the top with her performance. And there’s those mind altering drugs popping up again which completely distort your perspective and can end in tragedy.

So lawyers, go spend some time suing the likes of Monsanto and stay away from areas that give us pleasure such as sports and music which are only a small part of the entertainment field. Nobody had the balls to take on Carlin because they knew they couldn’t win against a guy who was better at their own game.

So the lesson here is to enjoy you, enjoy playing or watching sports, enjoy music for what it is, don’t take mind altering drugs.

And for heaven’s sake stay away from lawyers, unless you are another lawyer. Don't have to drive so far to run them over then.

1 comment:

Rhinowarrior said...

Well said, As the old joke goes "You know how to save 12 lawyers chained to the bottom of the ocean? No? Good!