“Moneyball” and the Case of the Copycat Song

I saw “Moneyball” this weekend. It’s an excellent movie, but I still think Michael Lewis’ book is even better. My suggestion: Go read the book. Then go see the movie.

But one thing the movie has, which the book doesn’t, is a subplot involving Beane’s 12-year-old daughter. In the movie the daughter sings and plays guitar, and the song she writes becomes kind of an anthem for her father.

The song, called “The Show,”  was actually written by a singer-songwriter named Lenka and released in 2008. Here’s Kerris Dorsey’s cover (she’s the actress who plays the daughter), in a video that looks like a trailer for the movie:

Lovely song, eh? But since I’m a hobbyist musician, I spend a lot of time listening to music, and I thought it sounded familiar. Like, really familiar. Like, substitute-other-lyrics-on-top-of-existing-song familiar.

Which existing song? “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz (first released in 2005):

I took a look at the chords, and they’re not the same (though I think they’re both using variations on the I-IV-V chord progressions). Then I compared the first two lines:

“The Show”:

I’m just a little bit caught in the middle
Life is a maze and love is a riddle

“I’m Yours””

Well uh you dawned on me and you bet I felt it,
I tried to be chill but you’re so hot that I melted,

Similar number of syllables, similar meter. You could easily sing those four lines as a single verse.

Hmm.

Why You Shouldn’t Fact-Check Songs

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Big ups (as the young folk say) to my friend Hank for introducing me to Pandora.com.  I’ll gush about Pandora in some future post, but suffice it to say it uses the music you like to make an educated guess about other music you’d like.

Case in point is above: Rachael Yam…

Actually that’s Rachael Yamagata,  a young, pretty, talented singer/songwriter. See that thumbs-up rating? That’s an “I like it” indicator, which helps Pandora further calibrate your likes and dislikes.

So I like her song “1963.” Rachael has a nice voice, and even though you could accuse me of  having Yacht Rock taste, I think it’s good.

With one teeny exception: that being part of the chorus:

I find it magical hey
I feel like I’m loving you in 1963 hey
Flowers in my hair hey
Little bitty hearts upon my cheek
Baby, you’ll be on my mind
’till I kiss you next time

I was a mere -3 years old in 1963, but I know enough about pop culture to know that in 1963, NO ONE was putting flowers in their hair or little bitty hearts upon their cheeks.

In 1963, the Beatles looked like this:

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Now consider this photo from 1968:

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I’m thinkin’ Rachael got the date wrong. The flowers & hearts came in 1968, not 1963.  I know you’ve got to grant artistic license, even though every time I hear to or for and then you and I in a song it makes me feel all wavy gravy. (See Babyface, Sting, Keren Ann, Minor Majority, 10CC, etc.) But still. I can’t hear a mistake like that mention of 1963 in that song without thinking about it every single time.

Peace out.