I hesitated to write this column because I could already hear the loudmouths in the comments, dying to profess that they know who sang every song in the history of everything, and that only tone deaf simpletons could make these mistakes. I can hear these comments because they're precisely the kind of things I would say. Nevertheless, even though your musical knowledge may be impeccable (and mine most certainly is), I thought I'd list a bunch of well-known songs that are often wrongly attributed to other artists.
Before I begin, can I just tell you how much fun I've had brainstorming this article? Just the perfect topic to be pondered on a bar stool, and clearly the best time I've had with "research" since I wrote that article entitled "What Are All the Different Things Dan O'Brien Doesn't Like Stuck in His Ear?"
How did DOB feel about this? The answer may surprise you.
#6. "Mr. Blue Sky" Is Not by the Beatles
This is the third time I've written about "Mr. Blue Sky," which is one of my favorite songs by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). Considering that ELO was a hugely successful band of the '70s and the song was a massive hit, I was really surprised to learn how many people thought this tune was by the Beatles. But it's true, and they're in the comments from the last two times I wrote about it. But rather than embarrassing any of those Cracked readers with screencaps of their comments, I thought I'd just show you that this confusion is indeed out there.
The answer, of course, is "No," and also "Why not just Wiki it?"
If you don't know the song, then you're either Amish or allergic to movies, because aside from being a classic rock radio staple, it's also used in movie trailers incessantly. Take a listen, but only if you're not afraid to feel insanely happy:
How did this happen? Well, as much as I'm shocked to learn that people have mistaken this quintessential ELO song for the Beatles, I can get it. The song is a pop rock gem, it couples traditional rock with an excellent string arrangement and it uses some of the same background voices and sound effects as the Beatles did in their later recordings. Indeed, John Lennon once said that if the Beatles had remained a band they would have probably sounded a lot like ELO, so you're forgiven. I guess.
#5. "Walking in Memphis" Is Not a Lost Michael Bolton Classic (There's No Such Thing)
In 1991, a nice bearded young man named Marc Cohn burst onto the music scene, releasing a monster hit called "Walking in Memphis." The song went to No. 13 on the Billboard charts, and Marc Cohn won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1992! And then because it wasn't the '70s and there was no such thing as singer-songwriters with sustainable careers, he went away.
But he left us with this classic, never knowing that future generations might attribute his work to a mullet-sporting ass clown.
It's hard to prove some of these things, but Cracked's own Adam Tod Brown assures me he's heard people mistaking this song for a Michael Bolton tune numerous times in his life, and, apparently, all those morons that Adam knows also like to sell illegal downloads.
I have it on good authority, these links were both generated by ATB's BFFs.
How did this happen? A few years before Cohn was entering and leaving the national consciousness, another performer with no writing ability and far less talent was breaking onto the music scene. A man known as Michael Bolton. And not the one from Office Space.
This Michael Bolton had a husky but sweet and soulful voice, like Cohn's, but unlike Cohn's output, Bolton decided to infuse a healthy dose of schmaltz and crap into everything he did. Indeed, Bolton's musical output is so riddled with cheese and feces that it's often mistaken for a Taco Bell chalupa. If you took "Walking in Memphis" and removed everything that made it good, you might get this following song, so I guess I see why some people are confused:
#4. "Long Cool Woman" Is Not by Creedence Clearwater Revival
The first time I ever heard "Long Cool Woman" was when my older brother played it for me and said something like, "Yeah, this song is called 'Long Cool Woman' and it's by the Hollies," so I never really had a chance to be confused. But the other day while I was having lunch at a neighboring watering hole, I heard this song on the bartender's iPod mix. The thing is, he'd included the song in a mix comprised mostly of Creedence Clearwater Revival songs. And ya know what? It fit right in. My friend even said, "Hey, Creedence," and it took me like a full 20 seconds before I mocked his stupidity. But I'm sure it's a common mistake. Take a listen:
Now take a listen to some Creedence:
How Did This Happen? No angry comments, please. I'm not saying one song stole from the other. I'm saying all those people out there who don't know who the Hollies are assume "Long Cool Woman" is CCR because of the similar style of this specific song to Creedence's trademark sound. Furthermore, this song doesn't sound anything like a typical Hollies tune. Other Hollies hits include songs like "Carrie Anne" and "The Air That I Breathe" (which, regardless of what the English court system and even this publication may tell you, was not ripped off by Radiohead. If one chord change and two notes of verse melody always served as a proper basis for plagiarism, no one could ever copyright music ever).
Lastly, some people mistake that opening riff for T. Rex, which is understandable, too, considering that "Bang a Gong" tone he's getting. Basically, the song sounds like it's by just about anyone but the Hollies.