January 5, 2007

So with Christmas and Hanukkah came a bounty of gifts for this young blogger. A Woody Allen Box Set. A DVD of The Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup. A 2-Month Gift Subscription to Netflix. But perhaps bestest of all was the long awaited Season 1 DVD of Beverly Hills 90210. Scoff all you want my friends, but nothing says awesome like 23 hours worth of teenage melodrama concerning the turbulent life of Brandon, Kelly, Dylan, Steve, David, Donna, and of course, the object of many a 10-year old Passion of the Weiss fantasy, Brenda “Ride or Die” Walsh.

But perhaps more intriguing than getting the chance to watch episodes I haven’t seen since the 4th Grade is getting to listen to the familiar John E. Davis-penned theme song again, only to become fully convinced of something I’ve long suspected: it’s a complete fucking rip-off of “Layla.” No, not the first part of “Layla” where Clapton and Duane Allman tear off some of the most spine-rattling guitar solos ever unleashed, but the middle portion, around the 3 minute 30 second mark, where the track begins its trademark piano coda and begins to veer dangerously into adult contemporary territory. Here is where the blatant plagiarism begins.

All buttery elliptical guitars buttressed by slippery descending piano keys the two songs bear an unmistakable resemblance. Sure, the 90210 theme throws in a white-hot sax riff and some hard drums to throw off the scent, but there’s no mistaking that the two guitar riffs share the same musical DNA. Clearly, 90210 updated the model by “cheesing” it up suitably for the early-90s, a period where no Casio Keyboard could dare go unused, but as Bill Cosby might say “the Proof is in the pudding.” You can interpret that for what it’s worth, but I won’t go there.

Steve Sanders: The Man, The Myth, The Lecher

Take a listen for yourself, the MP3’s are below. Perhaps the only question left asking is why Clapton never filed a lawsuit against 90210’s producers. Maybe one must dig deeper and ask probing questions, in the process taking into consideration the nature of the show’s protagonists. Indeed, Steve Sanders, son of Rush was known to be very well-connected around town. Is it possible that Rush may have put a kibosh on the lawsuit? As they might not have said at the KEG House, “Es Possible.”

Or perhaps that snooping Andrea Zuckerman discovered this secret and that was the reason why she left the show after Season 5. The official excuse was to “go to Yale” but its high-time that an alternative possibility was explored. I know the secret Zuckerman, I know the dirty unvarnished truth.

So while I highly recommend the first Season of 90210 on DVD and am fully convinced that it’s a better show than the recently canceled-O.C., part of me is a little hurt by the plagiarism. Somewhere, John E. Davis tosses and turns in his silk sheets, in a bed stuffed with money gained from pilfering poor Clapton’s ideas, but in the recesses of his mind, he knows the truth, and so do I. And now so do you. Have a nice weekend. You know John E. Davis will.

MP3: Derek & the Dominos-“Layla”
MP3: John E. Davis-“Beverly Hills 90210 Theme Song”

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