Jeffrey Lewis is not shy when it comes to letting people know his opinions. Whether it's in song, comics or the art of written prose, there are few platforms Mr. Lewis would pass up to give us his thoughts. Which makes his recent criticism / defense of the role cover songs play in folk music all the more interesting considering his latest effort -- 12 Crass Songs -- is, well, twelve Crass songs.
As a supposedly “creative” artist I am often shocked to discover that a song I’ve written has been a blatant unconscious rip-off of somebody else’s song, either in its structure, or lyrics, etc; if I’m lucky the other person’s song is not particularly popular or recognizable!
Sometimes I realize this as soon as I’ve come up with it: “Oh, I can’t use that great chorus I just wrote, I guess it’s the same melody as that Gnarls Barkley song.” Sometimes I don’t realize until years later where the ingredients of a song came from. Discussing this with a few friends of mine, we decided to make “unveiling” mix tapes for each other — tapes that would reveal the original songs we had, knowingly or unknowingly at the time, been “inspired by.” (”Inspired by” is sometimes known as “illegal infringement of copyright,” depending whether or not you’re in a court of law!) I already knew some of the songs I would have to put on my own “unveiling” tape; I was well aware that certain songs I’d written had been “inspired by” (since I’m not in court) bits of other people’s songs.
Read Jeffrey's full tengent here