Don Henley Lashes Out Against Uncleared Remakes Of His Songs
Calling it akin to going “into a museum and paint[ing] a moustache on somebody else’s painting,” Don Henley has accused those who have been sampling his songs without clearance of stealing.
“Anyone who knows anything should know you cannot take a master track of a recording and write another song over the top of it,” he told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. “You just can’t do that. You can call it a tribute or whatever you want to call it, but it’s against the law. That’s a problem with some of the younger generation, they don’t understand the concept of intellectual property and copyright.”
Henley is referring to a couple of high-profile incidents where the original recordings of his songs were used without consent. Two years ago, R&B singer Frank Ocean included a reworked version of the Eagles‘ ‘Hotel California,’ called ‘American Wedding,’ on a mixtape. This past February, indie band Okkervill River covered Henley’s ‘The End of the Innocence’ on a mixtape of their own. Although both artists professed their love of Henley and distributed their work for free, Henley’s lawyers forced them to take the new versions down.
“You can’t re-write the lyrics to somebody else’s songs and record it and put it on the internet,” he continued. “I’m sorry, but it wasn’t an improvement. We were not impressed. So we simply had our legal team tell them to take it down and they got all huffy about it.”
For Henley, it’s less about the money or the idea that it’s an artist paying tribute than it is about the process of writing and recording a song, only to have someone else, as he puts it, “diddle around” with it without asking permission first.
“We work really really hard on our material. We spend months writing it and years recording it. You don’t go into a museum and paint a moustache on somebody else’s painting. Nobody would think of doing that.”