The Beatles vs. Sublime

This one was sent in by Nicolas, Jessie and Michael.

The Beatles released “Lady Madonna” in 1968. I’m gonna guess that Sublime was busy shooting heroine heroin and listening to The Beatles while writing their soon to be hit “What I Got”.

The Beatles - "Lady Madonna" (1968)

Sublime - "What I Got" (1996)

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28 Replies to “The Beatles vs. Sublime”

      1. Nikki

        Honestly, I dont like either band. My best friends dad is the
        2nd largest beatles collector in the world. I know how much they influenced. I may like beatles influenced bands but i still greatly dislike the beatles. Your linear thinking of “you must like one to like the other” is incorrect, hon.

          1. Ryan

            I had this discussion with another another guy one drunken night, the fella was purporting that “the Beatles influenced pretty much everything”. But there reality is it goes much further back than the Beatlemania I’m afraid.

            There had been much larger movement and shift from blues in bluegrass style music along with mixtures of a lot of rockabilly in the states much before this, starting around the time or Robert Johnson and moving along to greats such as B.B King, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry or Elvis Presley.

            Even the Beatles themselves were heavily influenced by Presley so to even give “the king”, the title of progenitor of modern music, or indeed rock and roll would be a massive disservice to the many fantastic artists who came before.

            Not to run the guys down, I’m no hater and do enjoy a lot of Beatles songs and can appreciate their influence on a lot of more modern artists. I just think the narrative that they were “be all and end all” needs explored further. A much more fitting legacy blanket statement would be that “The Beatles” popularized an avenue of rock music that may very well have died off otherwise.

  1. Rob

    First off, Bradley was shooting heroin, a narcotic, not heroine a female hero. Secondly half of Sublime’s songs were ripped off from reggae greats of the 70s. The Beatles were far more original. They also had many more songs. Somehow a cd of Bradley acoustic while nodding off doesn’t quite compare to the white album. Unless you’re a 16 year old at a pot party, then yeah, Sublime is perfect. Put it on right after Bob Marley Legend and right before Jack Johnson.
    If you’re interested in hearing what the awesome music Sublime ripped off was all about I recommend both the soundtrack and movie “The Harder They Come” both starring Jimmy Cliff.

  2. Frank

    There are a finite number of beats and progressions. It’s not possible to write something completely original, there will be parts of every song that sound like others. That’s what “influences” are.

    The important thing is doing the whole sound well, and if originality is your goal, doing the same beats or sounds in a new and interesting way.

    Every great musician will tell you, stealing isn’t stealing, it’s standing on the shoulders of giants.

  3. jack

    you cant copyright a chord progression, you can can only copyright a melody, so its in no way plagiarism, because the melodies are completely different, so much so that ive never thought to compare them because its such a simple two chord progression in otherwise complex songs (or at least complex in the beatles case). i would definitely not say what i got sounds like lady madonna…

    1. joe

      Wow have you even listened to the songs before? The melody in the verse is basically identical to lady madonna. Yes the melody, no one is accusing them of plaigiarism based purely on a chord progression, that would be ridiculous.

  4. Elitist Poser

    Why do people always trip about music? Most the songs people think are original aren’t as original as they think. The Beatles were great but they weren’t that original. They started out as a skiffle band and put out tons of covers throughout their career. There would have been no Beatles let alone a thousand other bands without Muddy Waters and a bunch of other blues cats nobody remembers the names of. Many Beatles “original” songs sound like songs from earlier and other contemporary artists of their time. John Lennon did a few songs trying to sound like Bob Dylan and others. Oh Snap there goes their originality.

    If you think this is ripping off then look up Tenor Saw on Youtube. Listen to a bunch of his songs and you’ll see that Sublime was heavily influenced by him. Many basslines and some lyrics pulled right from his stuff. If that’s as far as you go you’ll think that Sublime just ripped off Tenor Saw. But look to the right and you’ll notice a lot of 60’s rock steady songs that Tenor Saw used for his music. He didn’t hardly change a thing just gave it a more modern feel. Then look to the videos to the right of all those classic rock steady songs and notice a lot of those songs were influenced by and often similar lyrically to American R&B and Rock & Roll hits from the 50’s and early 60’s. You’ll notice tons and tons of covers too. Then keep going and you’ll find that those songs were heavily influenced by jazz and blues songs from the 30’s and 40’s. It goes on forever. So exactly who did Sublime “rip off”?

    People have traced the boogie blues lines to piano players in the 1870’s in Eastern Texas. Does that mean all the blues guys who used them and were recorded 60+ years later are ripoffs? So who exactly did Muddy Waters rip off? Some dude who wanted to make his piano line sound like a chugging train. Sublimes Doin Time is an interpretation of George Gershwins Summertime which has been covered (ripped off?) over 30,000 times. Seriously there are over thirty thousand versions of the song. Most people know Janis Joplins version of it. There are countless songs that were influenced by it along with many other jazz songs. It’s just music get over it.

    1. Keith Post author

      Thanks for all of your thoughts!

      For myself, this site is a place for people to discover these types of similarities – not necessarily to accuse artists of ripping one another off – although in some cases it’s hard to believe otherwise.

      A lot of people find this site because they recognize a melody, riff or beat that they just can’t shake. Then they begin to sift through and discover other artists, other genres and how these artists have influenced one another over time.

      A common comment I see is that “nothing is original”. Well, there is definitely some truth to that. So what we have here is a record of influence and inspiration (and sometimes suspicious lifting of ideas) by these artists. It’s a great place for the young and old music listeners to make discoveries.

      1. Adam

        It’s like this site is a gateway from all the troubles and frivolities out there.

        That’s why I come onto this site periodically.

        I love music but don’t live and breathe it as much as others.

    2. Mark Adams

      A credited cover is not a rip-off. A rip-off is a song that is supposedly original, but to anyone who knows the original, it’s obvious that it is much the same as the one before it. Having said that, Muddy Waters said the Rolling Stones stole his stuff, but gave him his name, when they only covered his songs. Rich considering he stole from Robert Johnson several times with Going Down South sounding like Travelling Riverside Blues, Rollin’ and Tumblin’ sounding like If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day, the latter even having a line that’s something like “I roll and tumble…” and Kind Hearted Woman being almost identical to Kind Hearted Woman Blues. There are probably other examples.

      In Everything is a Remix, the guy said it is human nature to be alright with copying when we’re the ones doing the copying, because then we don’t suffer from loss aversion, but we still have our songs after someone else has copied them, so we haven’t really lost anything unless the copy ruins the original for us. Admittedly, Muddy Waters was grateful to the Rolling Stones for bringing a wider audience to his music, though.

      1. Mark Adams

        Usually though, Blues and Jazz lean towards sharing music, except for Muddy Waters and Freddy Keppard, the guy who would play his trumpet with a handkerchief over the valves so people couldn’t copy his fingerings and he turned down the opportunity to make the first Jazz recording in 1915, because that might also allow people to steal his stuff. I’m surprised he ever played in public. Blues and Jazz probably lean towards sharing music because there is so much freedom within a composition; different ways to interpret the melody and harmony and then there are the solos.

  5. Ariel Gonzalez

    “What do they say? ‘A good artist borrows, a great artist steals’ – or something like that. That makes The Beatles great artists because we stole a lot of stuff.”

    Revolution intro vs. Pee Wee Crayton- Do Unto Others


    Do Unto Others:

    Surely, its a tribute, i just enjoy the similarity.

      1. Ariel Gonzalez

        Thanks, I have plenty more if you’re interested. Its not that I go around looking for songs to point out like “oh they copied so and so”, I’m just good at recognizing certain sounds and melodies. I think its pointless to get bent out of shape about those kinds of things.

  6. Mark Adams

    When I Come Around by Green Day (1994) sounds kind of like Lady Madonna (1968) etc, but it also sounds like Green Day’s own 80 (1992). While I’m on the subject, the chorus of 21 Guns (2009) also sounds like Swing Low by Phil Collins (2002).


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