Underground Garage

Did anybody see the news article about Matthew Fisher winning a composition credit on Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale"?

Did anybody see the news article about Matthew Fisher winning a composition credit on Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale"?

It struck me that the ramifications of this could be seismic.

If I understand it correctly, Fisher, organist and one of the founding members of the band, claimed a composer credit because he wrote the organ melody over the opening chords and the U.K. judge agreed that "the organ solo is a distinctive and significant contribution to the overall composition and, quite obviously, the product of skill and labor on the part of the person who created it."

So the judge gave Fisher 40% of the copyright, which singer Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid had been splitting. If there's a publisher involved, the judge either ignored him or considered the publisher's share off the table, awarding Fisher 40% of what was left over.

Anyway, it all adds up but that's not the interesting part.

The question is, who else is entitled to composer credits and, more important, who isn't going to come out of the woodwork and say they're entitled?

I mean, I'm not saying Fisher doesn't deserve it—it is a fabulous and particularly distinctive melody—but the mind boggles at what this could mean.

If I'm reading this right, anybody—any sideman, any session guy who's ever made up a melody over an intro or during a solo—could claim composer credits.

The sound you hear isn't a thunderstorm. It's lawyers salivating worldwide.

See you on the radio.

COOLEST GARAGE SONGS
1. "Within You Without You," the Beatles
2. "Ain't No King of Rock and Roll," the Nomads
3. "Long Live the Weekend," the Living End
4. "Drive My Car/The Word/What You're Doing," the Beatles
5. "POD," Tenacious D
6. "Favorite Son," Green Day
7. "So Romantic," the Charms
8. "Dance Like a Monkey," New York Dolls
9. "Ridin' the Hook," Spongebob & the Hi-Seas
10. "Wreck This Heart," Bob Seger

COOLEST GARAGE ALBUMS
1. "Broken Boy Soldiers," the Raconteurs
2. "Last Man Standing," Jerry Lee Lewis
3. "Shine On," Jet
4. "State of Emergency," the Living End
5. "Sinner," Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
6. "Rockford," Cheap Trick
7. "One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This," New York Dolls
8. "Riot City Blues," Primal Scream
9. "Astoria," the Shys
10. "The Pick of Destiny," Tenacious D