When George Harrison wrote My Sweet Lord, did he know the melody was a note-for-note replication of The Chiffons’ He’s So Fine? He was, after all, found guilty of “subconscious plagiarism”.
What about Ray Parker, Jr. and his theme to Ghostbusters? Most will remember the song for its repetitious call-and-response hook: “Who Ya Gonna Call!? Ghostbusters!” But that’s not the part of the song Mr. Huey Lewis thought was most interesting. What Huey Lewis found fascinating was the fact the song’s backbeat was exactly like the one he wrote for his song I Want a New Drug. Did Ray Parker, Jr. realize he had used previously written material?
Or is it possible for two completely separate minds, fully unaware of one another, to conceive the same artistic vision?
Up until a few years ago, I’d have told you both George Harrison and Ray Parker, Jr. ought to be ashamed. I would never have believed two unconnected artists could realize the same artistic vision in such an uncanny manner. But then I had an experience that changed my mind on the subject forever.
Back in 2002, my freelance illustration business was doing pretty well and I decided to have some baseball jersey-style t-shirts made up with a new compelling illustration. You know, expand my advertising presence a bit. The concept I came up with – completely on my own without any external input of any kind, mind you – was a pair of red woman’s lips with a human eye looking out from inside the mouth. I dubbed it the “EyeCandy Logo” and it was good. Panda wore her EyeCandy baseball jersey frequently and with sincere pride (until she outgrew it, of course). But the best part is that my tactics were successful. I got work as a direct result of that design. Man, I love it when a plan comes together.
I can’t recall exactly how much later it was, but at some point I happened to be browsing art prints online and I stumbled across a Polish artist I had never heard of before by the name of Wojtek Siudmak. There wasn’t much of his work to look at, but then it really only took the one painting to leave me gaping and dumbfounded. The piece was entitled Le Regard Gourmand* and was an oil rendering of an artistic concept very familiar and dear to me: a human eyeball peering out from behind a pair of red, pouty woman’s lips!
As you can plainly see, this incredibly talented painter, who had no connection to me whatsoever, came up with the same artistic concept I did, before I did, and better than I did.
Mr. Siudmak’s attorneys have not contacted me even once in the four-year interim, which I take as a very good sign. Besides, I spent any royalties that might possibly be deemed his long ago on cat litter, dog food, and light bulbs.
*Le Regard Gourmand translates "The Greedy Glace".