Who writes what?

One of the pleasures of having your own blog (aside from the numerous endorsement deals and come-ons from famous movie starlets) is that you can stay on a subject as long as you like. Though I just posted on the topic, I want to link to this informative and rather touching tribute Devo’s Gerry Casale offers to his recently deceased brother Bob. It’s worth reading if you want a nice look at Devo history.

These ‘graphs caught me eye.

Mark Mothersbaugh had a five-chord progression on a clavinet that became “Gut Feeling,” but Bob Casale came up with the arpeggiated, revolving, tingling guitar line that sounds like a twisted, devolved Byrds riff.

Of course, Mark and I wrote all the songs, but without Bob Mothersbaugh and Bob Casale those songs would have never been fleshed out into full Devo expressions.

I presume Gerry means that he and Mark wrote the songs in the legal sense (e.g. the chords, lyrics and melodies) but it sounds like that in a practical sense Bob Casale actually did contribute to the writing; as Gerry says, he wrote a specific guitar line. Why doesn’t that count? Music lawyers could probably spout off some answers but this practice seems unfair. Sometimes the reason a song becomes popular is the great guitar solo or interesting chord pattern that isn’t considered a part of the song (as a legal concept.)

That “Gut Feeling” riff is great by the way. Check it out.

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