Musical coincidences # 359

My blogging friend Zolland (Howdy, Zolland!) told me about this one via Twitter.

This coincidence is a bit contentious. I think it’s not much of a coincidence at all, but Paul McCartney thinks otherwise.

(Just to clear up any possible misinterpretation of that previous sentence: I’ve never met Paul McCartney, let alone had a conversation with him about any songs. I’m fairly certain that Mr. McCartney is completely unaware of my existence.)

Anyway, Zolland tweeted that TLC‘s “Waterfalls” ripped off Paul McCartney‘s “Waterfalls“.

As I do with any coincidence – whether it was spotted by me or someone else (thanks, Zolland!) – I go looking to see if it’s been noted anywhere. So I went to the Wikipedia entry for TLC’s “Waterfalls”, and it mentioned the coincidence, citing this part of an A.V. Club interview with Paul McCartney from 2007:

AVC: Are there any songs of yours that you think deserved to be bigger than they were?

PM: There’s quite a few, actually. I like… There’s one called “Daytime Nighttime Suffering,” which I think’s really cool. One called “Waterfalls,” I think is nice. In fact, somebody had a hit, a few years ago, using the first line, “Don’t go jumping waterfalls / Please stick to the lake…” And then they go off into another song. It’s like, “Excuse me?”

AVC: TLC ripped off Paul McCartney? I had no idea!

PM: I think so.

I wasn’t familiar with TLC’s “Waterfalls”, so I zoomed on over to YouTube to hear it. I heard it. But I didn’t hear much of a coincidence.

Here are the TLC lyrics in the chorus of their “Waterfalls”:

Don’t go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to

And Mr. McCartney’s in his “Waterfalls”:

Don’t go jumping waterfalls
Please keep to the lake

Not once do TLC sing about “jumping waterfalls”, and not once does Mr. McCartney sing “chasing waterfalls”.

Sure, TLC may have pinched the lyrical idea, but I don’t think it’s a big deal at all – certainly not big enough for Mr. McCartney to feel aggrieved over. And the rest of the lyrics in the TLC song have nothing in common with PMcC’s lyrics. TLC do use the word “rainbow”, and Mr. McCartney uses the word “randrop”. Should Paul be bothered that TLC appropriated the “rain” part of “raindrop” for their “rainbow”?

Or how about 10cc‘s 1973 song, “Waterfall”? Did Paul McCartney rip that off?

Here are the songs in question. I’ll let you decide how ripped off Mr. McCartney was:

TLC – “Waterfalls


Paul McCartney – “Waterfalls


And here’s the 10cc song. Did Paul McCartney rip them off?

10cc – “Waterfall (1973)


4 Responses to Musical coincidences # 359

  1. side3 says:

    I love Sir Paul, but 10cc wins the “Waterfall” race in my mind.

  2. Zolland says:

    For me, it was the particular way in which TLC sung the line, “don't go chasing waterfalls.” The tone carried in their voice sounding too similar to Paul's tone for a (practically) identical line. Albeit, they made an entirely new song from it, but it sounded as if they “took” his idea and ran with it.

    I hadn't ever heard 10cc's version. It's a good song, but not similar to either Sir Paul's or TLC's, I think. =)

  3. Peter says:

    They are similar, Zolland, but I think it's a bit rich for P. McC. to cry foul about people ripping off his music when he had no trouble doing the same. For example, this is more blatant than TLC's approximation of the lyrics for “Waterfalls”. Or how about this?

    Admittedly, Paul didn't do it much (nowhere near as much as John), and didn't need to because he had melodies pouring out of him, but he wasn't above pilfering other people's music.

  4. Peter says:

    As for 10cc's “Waterfall”, I loved it when I was a teenager (I thought it sounded “mysterious”), but I don't like it as much nowadays. I still like it, though. I just think it's not a great 10cc song.

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