Cryptomnesia

July 23, 2010 at 10:06 am (music, psychology) (, , , )

I posted this on my Facebook yesterday, but upon revisiting it several times, it really deserves to be posted here.  Do you know about the feud between Huey Lewis and Ray Parker Jr.?

In 1984, Huey released “I Want a New Drug”, and it was a big hit.  (Sorry, the vid was unavailable for embedding)

Six months later, Ray Parker Jr. released his “Ghostbusters Theme” (ironically, Huey Lewis had originally been approached to write a theme and turned it down.)  Enjoy this video, it’s still amazing.

Anything sound familiar? Huey thought so, he sued Ray Parker Jr. for plagairism, and they settled out of court in 1985.  This didn’t stop the far superior Ghostbusters song from being nominated for an Oscar and winning a Grammy, but as part of the settlement, neither party could ever talk about the situation in public.  In 2001, after Huey Lewis was the subject of a Vh1 Behind the Music in which he implied that Parker paid him a lot of money back in the 80s to settle the case, Parker did the noble thing and sued Huey Lewis for breaking the terms of the settlement.  It seems that no one gives a shit what happened at the end of that suit.

But this isn’t even the real story!

Both songs, I Want a New Drug and The Ghostbusters Theme, totally lifted that guitar riff from the 1979 song “Pop Muzik” by the band M.

Not only is this one of the most amazing videos I’ve ever seen, but clearly, this is where the riff came from.  But I don’t think anyone stole anything.  I think this is all a bunch of cryptomnesia, which is a memory bias that occurs when someone thinks they came up with an idea on their own, but they’re actually just recalling a memory. It’s unconscious plagiarism. Helen Keller was accused of it after her short story The Frost King was actually a rip off of a story, Frost Fairies, that she’d been read years earlier by an aide.  No one is immune!

It’s Friday, so enjoy these songs, all wonderful in their own regard, and enjoy learning about cryptomnesia.

Thanks to Daily Skew for the post!

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3 Comments

  1. Pop Psychology « Gynomite! said,

    [...] July 27, 2010 at 10:19 am (movies, pop psychology) (cognitive dissonance, m. night shyamalan, pop psychology) Welcome to the newest segment of Gynomite, Pop Psychology, where basic concepts of psychology are explained using terrifyingly real examples from pop culture.  (This whole thing was inspired by last week’s post about cryptomnesia.) [...]

  2. monkeearmada said,

    You know Cryptomnesia is the title of the last song on The Cold War Kids last album?

  3. Things you learn at parties « Gynomite! said,

    [...] only has he had some issues with Ray Parker Jr over song stealing, but did you know that his band used to be called “Huey Lewis and the American [...]

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