Plagiarism or not?
I think the answer is no, but here’s why I ask.
I finally got around to listening to A Friend of a Friend, the recent album by the Dave Rawlings Machine. Track four is a double cover of Bright Eyes’ “Method Acting” and Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer.”
Listening to Rawlings perform “Method Acting,” I was struck by how much it resembled a different, and somewhat obscure, Neil Young song, “Distant Camera.” I’d heard “Method Acting” before, but did not notice the similarity in Bright Eyes’ raucous original version.
So I’m 95% sure that Conor Oberst is innocent, and even if he’s guilty, it’s entirely excusable plagiarism. The arrangement makes “Method Acting” and “Distant Camera” very different songs.
So the next question is, coincidence or not?
No idea on this one. Rawlings is a pretty clever guy. Was Rawlings saying, “You think this is Bright Eyes and Neil Young, but it’s actually Neil Young and Neil Young”?
Am I the first to get the joke?
Listen for yourself.
Bright Eyes – “Method Acting”
Neil Young – “Distant Camera”
Dave Rawlings Machine – “Method Acting/Cortez the Killer”
Neil Young – “Cortez the Killer”